Updated: Feb 20, 2022
That's one of the sexiest lines in a sex scene, isn't it? When they're in the thick of it, and the guy tells his woman, 'let me hear you ...' But that isn't what this is about. That was just clickbait. Sorry.
What I actually wanted to talk about are audiobooks. And since you're here, you may as well stick it out with me.
Over the last three or so years, there's been an explosion of audiobooks not only in the traditional publishing world, but among indies as well. I freely admit I am waaaay behind that curve. Some of it is laziness about any voices other than the ones in my head, and also an early less-than-positive experience. But having listened to a few really good indie audiobooks lately, I'm starting to think I should pay attention to that medium more. Not only because of the benefits for me and my work, but because of the whole community of Black voice actors for whom audiobooks are, or can be a viable and sustainable means of support.
One of the things I found difficult when I was first mulling over audiobooks was the process of finding voice actors who sound Black. Don't raise your eyebrows, you know what I mean. There is just something about the tenor and cadence of Black voices in speech and narration that makes them identifiably Black. And I don't mean accents, or "Blaccents", I mean voices. And yes, Black voice actors also have an unmistakable code-switching quotient that they've had to cultivate just from being Black that is invaluable when you're writing Black characters who likewise, may code-switch. There is no question that tone and delivery of dialogue subtly changes when a character is talking to a lover versus a friend; or a white colleague versus a Black co-worker with whom they are close.
So, how cool is it then that indie authors Joan Vassar and Alexandria House are partnering to create a platform called Audio in Black to showcase the work of Black indie authors and the Black voice acting talent that we draw on. I'm excited to see how that rolls out, and what new talent it brings to the forefront. Gives a whole new meaning to the #ownvoices movement, doesn't it?
Joan and Alexandria have already played a huge role in promoting Black talent, having made somewhat of a heartthrob out of one voice actor in particular, Jakobi Diem, who has become in many ways the prototype for Black male voice actors in the indie world, in addition to his impressive 'mainstream' cred. Something tells me that with him, we're just beginning to scratch the surface of the talent that's out there.
But before I go, I want to share with you a short listen from Sistah Girls Book Club's summer audio shorts series, Campfire Tales. It's an amazing actor (voice and screen) named Gilbert Glenn Brown who has an impressive list of acting credits (most recently playing MLK in the Aretha biopic starring Jennifer Hudson, 'Respect'), but who also voiced Jayson Holmes for me in a piece called 'Journey'. Have a listen, and if you have a need, hit him up. You know ... #fortheculture.