The Voice of a Princess

One trait that is synonymous among nearly every animated princess is her beautiful voice. I have wanted to do a tribute to some of my favorite princess actresses every since I started this blog. Princesses have inspired me to sing loud and proud throughout the course my life and have also gotten me through some difficult times. Their sweet and powerful voices were full of emotion and helped me relate to them and feel more deeply than I would have ever thought possible. These are some of my favorite rock star voice artists who have each voiced multiple princesses and have had the biggest impact on what a modern princess should sound like.


Leading the pack is the legendary Tara Strong who has voiced an insanely large library of iconic characters, including not one, not two, not three, but four princesses. Currently, she is most famous for her work as Twilight Sparkle, who became a princess in the third season of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I'm looking forward to hearing her in the upcoming movie next month, which I will be reviewing here. What makes Tara awesome is her versatility. She has played child characters, like Bubbles from The PowerPuff Girls and Timmy Turner from The Fairly OddParents, as well as more mature characters, like Raven from Teen Titans and Princess Ilana from Genndy Tartakovsky's short-lived Symbionic Titan in 2010. Tara used a similar voice to Ilana in her role as Ashi in Genndy's revival of Samurai Jack earlier this year, who you may remember I chose as my ideal animated prince. Now that I have a prince of my own, I was forced to give up my beloved Jack to Ashi shortly after my own wedding. Tara also nailed a generic-sounding Disney Princess voice as Clara from Drawn Together in 2004, who I wrote more about in my "Princess Parodies" post.

Before she played Princess Clara, Tara was a real Disney Princess in 2000 as Ariel's daughter, Melody, in The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea. When I met her at San Diego Comic-Con in 2011, we bonded over our love of Ariel. She said that working with Jodi Benson was one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to her. They even got to harmonize together in the song "For a Moment." Tara's singing voice is as lovely as her talking voice. Meeting Tara was a very exciting experience for me because she loves all of her fans and is very kind to them. I became Facebook friends with her shortly after talking to her at Comic-Con, and she gives me "likes" on my posts from time to time. Her love for her fans is just as wide as the breadth of her talent.

One of Tara's idols as well as my own is Jodi Benson, one of Tara's idols as well as my own. In my "Mermaid Princesses" post, I explained a little about why Ariel's means so much to me. In 1989, Jodi breathed life into my favorite princess in The Little Mermaid, and her voice has not been lost since then. Her emotional performance in "Part of Your World" has touched many hearts by making people feel that it was okay to be themselves and share their passions, even if others don't understand them. Jodi went on to play Ariel in the TV series, sequel, video games, dolls, Sofia the First special, and anything else that required Ariel's famous voice. Her voice paved the way for what the modern Disney Princess should sound like. I met Jodi at a special event promoting the 2006 Platinum Edition DVD release of The Little Mermaid. Jodi is a religious Christian and signs "God bless" on all of her autographs, which is rather appropriate, considering the story's roots. She played another Hans Christian Andersen character in 1994 as Don Bluth's Thumbelina. Thanks to her, I found myself singing "Soon" over and over in the shower as a little girl. Jodi performs live concerts every so often. I saw her last year for The Little Mermaid Live at the Hollywood Bowl event, where she reprised her role as Ariel and followed it up with the song "Disneyland" from a Broadway show called Smile.


Speaking of Princesses on Broadway, another princess who is no stranger to live performances is Lea Salonga. Lea is a lovely Filipina actress who got her start playing Kim in Miss Saigon in 1989. She then portrayed Eponine in Les Miserables before Disney hired her in 1992 to sing "A Whole New World" as Jasmine in the iconic magic carpet scene from Aladdin. She set the bar even higher in 1998  in Disney's Mulan with "Reflections" and "Honor To Us All." I love Lea for her crystal clear voice and the emotional power that she packs into every note. Though Disney has sadly not hired her for any speaking roles, she went on a live Broadway tour as the title character in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella in 2008, which you can read more about in my "Cinderella" post. Lea also made a cameo in the season one finale of Rachel Bloom's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in 2016, in which she sang a Disney Princess inspired song.


Lea's vocal twin would have to be Liz Callaway, who substituted for her as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in both of Aladdin's sequels from 1994 and 1996. Vocally, Liz is nearly identical to Lea with her crystal clear pronunciation and perfect pitch. The only difference is that Lea puts a tad more emotion into her voice when she sings. Liz's singing voice was used in two famous non-Disney princess movies, The Swan Princess in 1994 and Anastasia in 1997. I'd like to pay a small tribute here to Michelle Nicastro, the talking voice of Odette from The Swan Princess, who died too young when she lost her battle with cancer in 2010. Her voice made Odette a warm and assertive princess who was full of life. Michelle's talking voice was also a decent match for Liz's singing, which is far more than I can say for Meg Ryan in Anastasia. Though Anastasia it is still one of my favorite movies of all time, I have to admit that it was quite jarring how different the singing voices were from the talking ones. It just goes to show that it's always better to hire an actress who can sing and talk.

Princesses are famous for their beautiful singing voices. Though this is not a complete list of princess voices by far, it is my opinion that these are the women who shaped everything that we believe a princess should sound like today. They have captured our hearts with the power of their voices and made us want to sing all day and all night. These love actresses are the ones who breathed life into a series of drawings and made us long for each princess to achieve her happy ending. They are the voices of kindness, assertiveness, humility, and grace.

Comments

And lest we not forget Kerry Butler, voice of Princess Gwenevere, which you did mention in the Princess Broadway post.

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