Monday, May 16, 2016

The Voice

It was the mid-seventies. My college’s (National Institute of Engineering, Mysore “NIE”) annual intercollegiate competitions were in full swing. One of the competitions was the impromptu speech competition. There were many good speakers. The panel of judges was full of well-known and great speakers themselves.

When the mark sheets from the judges were taken away for tallying, one of the judges remained on the dais and the organisers requested him to speak to the audience. Though he declined at first, he relented and came to the podium.

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. I am a teacher” he started in the familiar deep bass. He regaled the audience with an arresting talk for a few minutes filled with gentle humour. As soon as he started the lady sitting next to me in the audience went, “Ooooooh! What a voice!” She continued to listen with rapt attention, starry eyed! everyone felt that he could have gone on when he stopped, to let the prizes be announced.

That is the famous voice of Dr. N. Ratna, the Founder Director of All India Speech and Hearing, AIISH, of Mysore. That shows that he was not a teacher because he could not “do” but because he was a great teacher.

He had a naturally deep voice but he trained his voice to be really deep. The only other voice I have heard that was as deep, if not deeper, was that of Willis Conover, the man who presented The Voice of America Jazz Hour.

I was reminded of this incident because of a Facebook post his daughter shared today.

To listen to Willis Conover and get an idea of what I am talking about, listen to this: