Vocal Impressions: Hearing Voices, Round Nine In the latest installment of "Vocal Impressions," listeners share their descriptions of the voices of Janis Joplin, Katharine Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Joe Cocker. And we issue a new challenge: Lucille Ball, Ray Charles, Cher and Harvey Fierstein.

Vocal Impressions: Hearing Voices, Round Nine

Vocal Impressions: Hearing Voices, Round Nine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/16735834/16747694" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Sounds Like ...?

How would you describe these four voices?

Lucille Ball

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/16735834/16537402" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Ray Charles

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/16735834/16537403" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">


  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/16735834/16537407" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Harvey Fierstein

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/16735834/16537404" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Every few weeks we present another installment of our listener challenge, "Vocal Impressions." It's where we ask you to conjure up just the right phrase to describe a handful of famous and distinctive voices.

Our last challenge was to take on the voices of Janis Joplin, Katharine Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Joe Cocker. Except for Fred, everyone got at least one chainsaw reference. The other answers are below.

And we issue a new challenge to listeners: Describe the voices of comedienne Lucille Ball, singers Ray Charles and Cher, and actor Harvey Fierstein.

Janis Joplin

Listeners say the singer sounds like:

A chainsaw with a broken heart — Ann Mintz

Touching an electric fence; not enough voltage to kill you but enough not to let you go — Andrea Downing

Wearing gasoline cologne to a candlelight vigil — Mike Free

The growl of a stray dog that just got her first taste of the T-bone steak — Chris Calvo

A discussion between a mother and a daughter about the other's contemptible boyfriend — Fred Quivey

The voice of my bladder as I search the interstate for a rest stop – Jill Sterling

The dare you really wanted to accept even though you were totally scared — Daniel Lupfer

The girl you have a crush on saying your name — Jake Naylor

The sound of iron rusting — Sarah Hamilton

The last scream that a trapped person yells before they realize no one will come — The Warrensburg High School Writing Club

The voice of the girlfriend you left for the "safe" girlfriend you wound up marrying - John Jagger

A tie-dyed T-shirt all wound in knots having the last bit of dark ink wrung from it before its beauty is unfurled — Jeremy Bowman

The morning after a hard night of partying [when] my Mom would say, "Mmmm ... sounds like you had a good time last night" — Erin Brewster

Peanut hulls that crunch under your boots at your favorite bar — Kathy Lewis

The lit fuse to a stick of dynamite — Teresita Maxey

The unbridled claim to freedom in a wildcat's cry — Melanie Trost

A freight train running on loose rails — Susan Wade

Katharine Hepburn

Listeners say the actress sounds like:

A schoolmarm teaching you the difference between "who" and "whom" — David Cheramil

Hinges opening on a shed door that's been nailed shut for 20 years — David Zwicky

Ice tinkling in a crystal glass — Susan O'Halloran

"The Ride of the Valkyries" played on a saw — Pier Gustafson

The blue jay at the feeder scolding the sparrows for hogging all the birdseed — Janet Hanawalt

A tightly wound spring — Ron Dylewski

A flautist playing while traveling down a cobblestone road — Lorraine Armstrong

Your grandfather doing an imitation of your grandmother the morning after a big New Year's party — Jim Corbran

The voice of a female mentor all of us girls in the '70s wish we had — Marla Tord

Peanut brittle before it hardens — Andrea Sledge

A peacock's wink — Dave Airozo

Having the caffeine jitters — Rebecca Latson

A quivering machine gun — Ken Sherman

An arrow shot quivering through the air as it finds its bull's-eye — Elizabeth Wolf

Fred Astaire

Listeners write in that the dancing actor sounds like:

Crisp silk — Jeffrey Urbik

Dancing in your head — Chris Mary

The man in the moon — Samantha Carpenter

The boyfriend you longed for before you found out about sex — Laura Lyster-Mensh

A marshmallow melting in a steaming cup of cocoa — Jeff Hawkes

A kitten rubbing against the leg of your tan corduroy pant — John Metcalf

A church bell that's been warmed by a layer of freshly fallen snow — Edward Roberts

How the holding of hands felt before you knew about heartbreak — Peter Newell

A silk-gloved hand stroking a satin-covered shoulder — Albert Alvarez

A scoop of vanilla ice cream melting and sliding around in a bowl — Jill Sterling

A woman removing a pair of silk stockings — Shella Welebit

Understated majesty, as when the moon appears in daylight — Edward Mackin

Hush Puppies walking in a lush forest — Herb Ziev

Ice-skating violins — Julia Meisel

Dusting cigarette ashes from a mahogany table — Ali Sanders

Joe Cocker

Listeners say the singer's voice sounds like:

The last hours of a very good party — Karen Tomaszewski

He just rolled out of a dumpster on a Sunday morning, picks the wilted lettuce from his head, shakes himself off and gets on with his day — Kathleen Freudenrich

A favorite wool sweater that makes you look and feel a lot cooler than you are — Ed Schart

The taste of the bong water you drank by mistake — Mark Lupinetti

Wet gravel being poured into a whiskey bottle — Michael Joseph.

The loving burn of a scruffy kiss — Melanie Trost

Someone trying to sing while being Tasered — Mike Kraft

The feeling at the end of a great first date — Carrie Cobern

A three-day hangover — Shella Welebit

Stale croutons going down a sore throat — Mike Free

Warm, dark Tupelo honey oozing down the center of your soul — Karen Rutland

A scratched record being played with a heroin needle — Arleen Falcon

Staying over at your best friend's house and singing until you both pass out — Kristine Borg

A drunk auditioning for a cathedral choir — Albert Aluarez

A bicycle sliding through loose stones and gavel — Mark and Jan Urban-Lurain