June 17, 2012

Lovin' You

July 12, 2012 marks the 33rd anniversary of the death of Maya Rudolph's mother, Minnie Riperton. Minnie Riperton is perhaps best known for her breakout hit "Lovin' You" which peaked at #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 Charts on April 5, 1975, but also hit #6 on the Adult Contemporary Charts at the same time.

You can catch this classic video below, or at http://youtu.be/kE0pwJ5PMDg:

She was known for her unusual vocal range of five-and-a-half octaves which she was able to sing with incredible precision. The song is particularly noteworthy because of the unusually high pitches that she reaches during the song. Also, it's noteworthy for the sound of the chirping songbirds that are heard throughout the song, which are actually Riperton's voice which she phonated by the use of what's known as the "whistle register". To save you from having to ask "what's that?", it's the highest register of the human voice, above even the modal register or falsetto register. It's called that because the notes that are produced from this register sound quite similar to that of a whistle. I always presumed it was birds. Little did I know!

As I noted, Riperton's daughter is actress Maya Rudolph (catch an NPR interview with Maya Rudolph at http://n.pr/LRhMh7), who was a child when "Lovin' You" was recorded. Minnie Riperton died of metastic breast cancer in 1979, when Maya was just a child, but the song has hints of Maya recorded into it! According to the liner notes from Riperton's "Petals" compilation CD, the melody to "Lovin' You" was created as a distraction for Maya when she was a baby, so Riperton and Richard Rudolph could spend time together. Towards the end of the unedited "Lovin' You" release, you may note that Riperton sings "Maya, Maya, Maya"; in concert, near her death, she reportedly changed this to "Maya, Maya, Ringo, Maya." (Ringo was her nickname for her son, Marc).

Anyway, to honor Minnie Riperton, I'm sharing this '70s classic. Note the Afro hairstyle, which was very much the fashion in those days. The Baby's Breath in her hair ... maybe not. Still, for a song that has resurfaced in places like "South Park" to various movies, this one seems appropriate to acknowledge as a 1970's gem!

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