Video: Singing a different tune

msnbc.com
updated 6/22/2005 5:23:41 PM ET 2005-06-22T21:23:41

Seventeen-year-old Mikhael Rawls' request to join the Texas All-State Choir has been denied based on pitch. According to the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), the positions of alto and soprano are reserved for women. The group cites possible damage to a male performer's vocal cords resulting from singing out of one's range as the reason for its decision. 

MSNBC's Randy Meier spoke with Rawls on Wednesday and teenager expressed his disappointment with the TMEA's decision, one he feels was unfounded.

The controversy stems from Rawls' countertenor singing style. "Basically what I do is I sing in my falsetto, above my baritone/tenor break in a countertenor male soprano, male alto range," he said. "I feel that's a more fluid and natural part of my voice."  

Although the rule prohibiting boys from performing in alto and soprano roles -- one which was passed two years ago -- is in place to protect the singers, Rawls believes it is unnecessary, based on the traditions of his craft.

"Historically men have sung soprano and alto for ages and it's a part of our musical history that shouldn't be neglected," he said, noting that his voice typically "hurts when I sing lower in my speaking range."

Rawls said he doesn't want to cause trouble; he just hopes that the TMEA will consider his plea, though optimistic that a change will be made. "It's not just for me, it's for the music's sake and for other people in my position."

To watch the entire interview between Randy Meier and Mikhael Rawls, and to hear Rawls sing, click on the video clip above. MSNBC Live with Amy Robach and Randy Meier can be seen weekdays from 9 a.m.-Noon.

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