Far more than a mere country singer, Mavericks frontman Raul Malo possesses the kind of range that can have him going from a Sinatra-flavored croon to an Orbison-flavored warble while easily moving from pop and soul to salsa. Knowing this, who wouldn’t want to know what vocalists do it for a guy as talented as Malo is?
“The first one I’d have to say is Elvis [Presley] because when I heard ‘It’s Now or Never,’ that changed my life. We can go on and on about why and there are so many reasons and you could really get into the fine detail of that because it’s complex. Elvis was a very diverse and versatile artist and his voice lent itself to that. I know people always rave about the ‘50s stuff and how impactful and incredible it was, but when he recorded ‘It’s Now or Never,’ to me, that was a level of genius that I had never heard before or since. And the fact that it was an Italian aria made it even more complex because it came at a time when I was discovering a lot of music. My mom at the time was very much into opera so I got into it as well. And just the fact that the King of Rock and Roll was singing opera to me just blended these worlds so beautifully. That song made an impact.”
“People first of all think his songs are easy to sing because he’s all gravelly voiced and it sounds like he’s at the bottom of his range. But people who think that should try singing it in his key and you realize that it’s not that low and how he did what he did was just amazing. But more than that, he was an amazing communicator, and that was the biggest thing.”
“With Frank Sinatra, you see the lyrics in one of his songs and think it should go one way but then you hear him sing it and he’ll break syllables up in an unorthodox way that still works.”
“Willie Nelson is a communicator. [What he does is] transcendent and it’s great. You don’t know why and you don’t care.”
“You talk about one of the most influential artists of all times. I know everybody always says Roy [Orbison] and he’s definitely Top 10 but as far as really influencing singing and not that I wanted to emulate her, but I learned so much about back phrasing and just listening to how she emoted her songs and that was Billie Holiday. Again, very different from everybody else, but I listened to those records and her live recordings a lot when I was a kid and was really listening to music.”