Another "voice" instead of "vocals"

Jeff Prucher jprucher at YAHOO.COM
Mon Dec 10 18:21:51 UTC 2012

> From: Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>Sent: Sunday, December 9, 2012 10:31 PM
>Subject: Re: Another "voice" instead of "vocals"
>On Sun, Dec 9, 2012 at 1:40 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
>> I would be more concerned if I saw "on vocals".
>I wouldn't. Strings like "The Stan Kenton Orchestra, featuring June
>Christie on vocals" sounds completely ordinary to me. But it is
>surprisingly - to me, anyway - rare and recent in print with the
>relevant meaning.
>Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Super Seventies RockSite
>Jan 15, 1971 - Though Emerson is "featured" on piano and organ, he has
>some extremely strong support from Greg Lake (formerly with King
>Crimson) _on vocals_.

>And it's downright unnerving that the writer thought that this use of
>_feature_  was so unnatural, so extraordinary, that it required
>quotes, though he was willing to accept "on vocals." Can "feature" and
>"on vocals" / "on the vocal" really be peculiar to jazz, pop, and R&B
>DJ's of the 1940's to the 1970's?
I can't guess about the scare quotes around "featured" here, unless the liner notes actually say something like "featuring Keith Emerson on piano and organ". But "on vocals", at least, seems unremarkable to me, and I have no first-hand experience of DJs from that period. If someone is standing on stage, introducing the band, and they say "this is X on drums, Y on bass, and Z on vocals", there's a very nice, easy parallel structure. What else are they going to say for the singer? (Besides "on voice", of course.)

Jeff Prucher

>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
>to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>-Mark Twain
>The American Dialect Society -

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