As a baby singer (teenager) my voice was very light and very high. It still has A LOT of height and is certainly not heavy but it is heavier than it was and I have low notes now that I've never really developed.
I was also trained to sing with out a microphone.
With my work with GGRO singing on a mic (It's necessary for GGRO. Because of the acoustical set up we work with I would blow out my voice at every rehearsal with out one. I've sung over a full orchestra un-mic'd and been heard at the back of a 300+ seat hall) I've had the opportunity to work on the lower end of my range more regularly. Additionally I have the good fortune that in most all of our arrangements the vocal line is written an octave higher than it's sung which has the effect of disorienting me enough that I can't rely on the sight to muscle memory and I often don't know how low I'm singing and have discovered later that I'm comfortably working in notes lower than I would normally choose or feel strong in. I've used something similar to this technique at the opposite end of the spectrum for students who think they can't hit high notes.
I've discovered that my insecurity about the strength of my lower notes leads me to over compensate and push too hard in the lower third of my range.
When I first heard Jessie Mueller in the NY Philharmonic presentation of Rogers and Hammerstein's Carousel I immediately recognized hers was a voice I could match well with. So I began looking to see what else she had done. Turns out she had sung the role of Carol King in Beautiful and Jenna Hunterson in Waitress- totally the other end of the spectrum from a legit soprano role like Carrie Pipperidge. I thought to myself..."Well if she can sing that, and we have similar ranges and vocal quality, then I should be able to as well. Especially if I sing it on a mic."
I've made other attempts, most recently Astonishing from Little Women, to dig into the bottom of my range with little success, I think because I've pushed too hard and fast and worried too much about volume (I know Lenore, "don't worry about volume") Again an old anxiety.
So I've come at this using the, new to me, SOVT exercises, practicing a little on a mic, and trying to slow down with this one and get a good foundation built with the transitions note to note. Because with higher material I'm so comfortable and practiced I can move more quickly from the raw material of the song, the notes and rhythms and words, to the more polished points of emotion and phrasing and color and expression and dynamics. Indeed I was so moved by this song I did start there and suffered a bit for it in a sore voice for a couple days till I could still the tears it would raise and focus in on the technique and memorization.
There was a recording before this, and even if I could find it I wouldn't share it, that illustrated the pushing I was doing in the lower parts which was messing with the pitch and introducing tension into the upper parts of the song which should have been easy and light.
I didn't record it but I went through the song once on a silicone straw and cover over a couple of inches of water in a 8oz mason jar. This is the second take after that. The first take I closed my eyes a lot probably because I was thinking very carefully about everything I was doing. In this take I'm letting a little more emotion come through which is translating into an instinct for more volume and some slight pushing but it doesn't go over the edge. I need to fix the breath and note memorization on the climax ("Bring back the fire in her eyes that's been gone but used to be mine") I also want to dirty it up a little more- more growly in places. The diction could be more regional to the south, there are hints of it but it isn't strong enough yet. I'm thinking generic country music twang since the play doesn't seem to specify where in the American South they are. I also really want to get in with a live accompanist so that I can get some space in the tempos and I'm not tied to what is essentially a metronome on my musicnotes.com app.
Even with everything I still want to do with it I'm super pleased with it. It's a really good tool to be able to record myself and hear that even with as loud as the speaker sounds to me in comparison to my voice it isn't actually overpowering me. It helps allay the fear of not being heard or being too weak or soft.
Something to note about key signatures. The "original key" I purchased this music in is -2 half steps from where Jessie Mueller sings the song on this recording
And -1 half step from where she sings it on the original cast recording. Because musicnotes.com labels it as in the style of Sara Bareilles and she did play, for some period of time, the role on broadway and released an album of the music with Jason Mraz I'm guessing that the key it's published in is hers. I'm singing it +2 half steps from Sara Bareilles key and in the same key as the rehearsal video from Broadway.com
It still doesn't solve the problem of auditions which aren't mic'd. But that's a problem for another day and for a live pianist and third ear in the room to give me feedback on how well it carries.