Michael Jackson had a voice which was sublime, other worldly for it's softness and notable for it's soft childlike qualities even when he was in his 40's.  Castrati were castrated  men who by nature or human action had similar voices and were common in the 17 and 1800's. 

His voice  did not change much from "ABC-123", to Thriller.  He got bigger, his voice got bigger, but it never really broke.  His songs were timeless and there was much more to him than just a singing voice.  His creative genius, hard work and love for his art make him an unparalleled talent.  His music will be listened to and enjoyed for the next 500 years.  We were all privileged to have lived in the same era as he.

 There is only one kind of singer I have ever heard of, or heard an old scratchy recording of, with a voice remotely like his.  A male singer castrated before puberty to preserve his voice, a castrato.  This is not to say, insinuate or imply that I think ol Joe Jackson orchestrated an unfortunate accident to preserve Michael's voiceEndocrinological conditions can create castrati as well.  There are some compelling reasons that this explanation for so much about him should not be dismissed.  While I am no medical doctor, I know by virtue of my own experience and seeing the lives of others with my condition the power of the endocrine system.

(If you want to skip the little history lesson.  Or you think I am nuts and Michael was just using falsetto..all the time... then skip down to the section "If you thought that this is just about Michael Jackson's voice and
his voice is just falsetto and he's putting up a front, read here first.
")

I can already hear some people saying that's ridiculous how could I even think such a horrible thing.   Hear me out and don't let the knee jerk way of thinking that any implication of abnormality in that region of the body is a bad thing.  Read on and you will see that this is a supreme compliment to him. That said I notice many similarities between the publicly known details of Michael's life, which are strongly suggestive of this.  Not the least of which was his sublime singing voice.

Who/What were the Castrati?  Carlo Maria Broschi...Farinelli....

Castrati were men with  singing voices in the mezzo-soprano, or Soprano range.  This would result from the castration of , or an endocrinological condition in a talented young male singer.  Thus natural puberty and changing of the voice would be prevented.   Due to this the young male singer's voice would retain it's prepubescent pitch tone, and quality taking on qualities unlike a male or female voice.  Specifically the pitch range beyond the capabilities of a male, and power and projection, in an era without microphones, beyond the capability of a woman. 1

To bring this to life let me compare Michale Jackson to a singer from the past Carlo Maria Broschi a.k.a Farinelli.Farinelli ca 1753 Courtesy of Wikipedia 2   Carlo Broschi was born to a family of musicians in about 1705 in Italy.   When he was young his family was well to do, unlike most Castrati.  He was related to minor Italian nobility on both sides of the family, his father the mayor of a small town.  Then in 1717 his father died, Carlo was 12 and it must have been obvious that he was a talented singer because the decision was taken by an older brother of his to have him castrated to preserve his angelic singing voice.  The operation was not legal for this purpose so a fall from a horse was staged which would with the medicine of the day make castration necessary. 2

He went on to a level of singing fame which for it's day bears a real comparison to Michael Jackson's level of stardom.  He was known thought Italy by 1722 as "the boy".2  Famous for his voice.  So high and so soft was his voice that he would sometimes take on the female roles in some opera's appearing en-travesti, dressed as a female.  This was a common thing for many of the castrati though it should be emphasized all indications are that their gender identities were male.  As a music critic of his day Johann Joachim Quantz :
"Farinelli had a penetrating, full, rich, bright and well-modulated
soprano voice, with a range at that time from the A below middle C to
the D two octaves above middle C. ... His intonation was pure, his
trill beautiful, his breath control extraordinary and his throat very
agile, so that he performed the widest intervals quickly and with the
greatest ease and certainty. Passagework and all kinds of melismas were of no difficulty to him. In the invention of free ornamentation in adagio he was very fertile.
This kind of performance, his less than ideally masculine appearance,  and the flamboyance of A caricature of Farinelli in a female role, by Pier Leone Ghezzi 1724.his behavior, as can be seen even in the painting above, and likely jealousy resulted in criticism.  Best illustrated by this caricature of Carlo.    It is noteworthy that these men were not allowed to marry because as castrati they were unable to reproduce naturally, and in their more pious time the point of sex or marriage was children, at least officially.   Often the lives of these people consisted of music music music, and in so many ways they were shut out and distant from most people due to their differences and the phobia's of the masses.

Farinelli would go on to a long career in the service of various Opera
companies from France to England to Germany to Spain, and the courts of kings and queens.  In Spain he was named  to the order of Calatrava.  He was well appreciated for his works, and would die a wealthy man.  Though all of that came at a heavy price.  The childhood of these people was not like that of a normal child.

The training of these men as boys was rigorous for this I quote a paraphrase of 3 as found in Wikipedia.

 The regime of one singing school in Rome (c. 1700) consisted of one hour of singing difficult and awkward pieces, one hour practicing trills, one hour practicing ornamented passaggi, one hour of singing exercises in their teacher's presence and in front of a mirror so as to avoid unnecessary  movement of the body or facial grimaces, and one hour of literary study; all this, moreover, before lunch. After, half-an-hour would be devoted to musical theory, another to writing counterpoint, an hour copying down the same from dictation, and another hour of literary study. During the remainder of the day, the young castrati had to find time to practice their harpsichord playing, and to compose vocal music, either sacred or secular depending on their inclination.3
What does any of this have to do with Michael?

It is from the musical training meted out by Joe Jackson to all his children that we see the first similarity between the life of Jackson and the lives of the castrati.   Like most of the castrati Michale Jackson was not born into a wealthy family at all.  His father was a worker in a steel mill in Gary Indiana.  He would also play in an R&B band.  The Jackson children all describe the harsh discipline, sometimes described, by them as abuse at the hands of Joe Jackson. They sang in their modest home as a family band consisting of Jackie, Jermaine, Tito, and Marlon.  Michael joined when it was noticed that he had a distinct singing voice, and could dance like James Brown.  Michael once said of the rehearsal sessions that his father would sit in a chair watching and listening and holding a belt
"if you didn't do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you". 4
Michael and many of the other Jackson children credit Joe and his insistence on incessant rehearsals with their adulthood success.  6 

This is all strikingly similar to the kind of training the castrati were subjected to.

Michael's singing voice earned him high praise, he was called a prodigy.  By age 14 he had five hit singles to his credit (ABC-123, I'll be there, I want you back, and the love you save as the Jackson 5's lead singer, and Ben solo).  He was a virtuoso and more successful than most artist before he even hit puberty.

Like the castrati Michael had a characteristically flashy and flamboyant life style.  Like them he suffered criticism for his not typically masculine ways.  I will assume that the personal details of his very artistic life are familiar so I will not repeat them here.  However it is known that he would dress in a characteristic style all his own.  Often imitated never duplicated.  He had a innocent and some might say feminine way.

.
Michael Jackson - From A Black Man To A White Woman. - More free videos are here
 Many black comics would joke that he had become a white woman.  In particular Red Buttons would joke in reference to Michael that :
Only in America can a poor black boy grow up to be a rich white woman. 8
  The pointedly gender behavior centered criticism of Michael Jackson is again reminiscent of how the Castrati were treated.  Loved for their sublime voices yet kept at distance because of the very differences that made those voices possible.   Red Buttons words were an indictment of Michael's somewhat gender non conforming behavior and appearance, and a statement of the broad disbelief that he has not done
something to lighten his skin.

What his vitiligo and what his publicly seen about his physique, and private behavior tell us.
He was diagnosed with a condition known as vitiligo.  One treatment for which is plastic surgery and makeup to create an even skin tone.  Vitiligo is associated with autoimmune disorders in particular disorders of the thyroid either being underactive or overactive. 9  Then consider what else the thyroid controls.... the thyroid is one gland which along with the pituitary conducts all the other endocrine glands in the human body including the reproductive organs. Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism both include a suppressed libido and can contribute to hypogonadism.  An autoimmune disorder could also attack his pituitary gland which could also lead hypogonadism. Of course the autoimmune disorder which could cause Michale Jackson to need so many drugs and to be in so much pain could have directly attacked his gonads from a young age.  A persistent and progressive condition such as Michael's vitiligo was implies that this was not caused by some infection, he had a chronic condition of some kind.  The pathways I have outlined above are many ways that one could end up with suppressed puberty, lack of sexual development and hence in the case of one with his intrinsic musical talents, a otherworldly singing voice.

If you thought that this is just about Michael Jackson's voice and his voice is just falsetto and he's putting up a front, read here first.  If you read all of this up to here good for you!  The rebuttal for that assertion would be obvious who paid the least bit of attention in music class in elementary school.  Falsetto is a sort of high pitched whine which is used by men who's singing voice is in the alto range to access at least one note in the soprano range. It is easily distinguished from a true soprano or mezzo soprano voice once the difference is pointed out.  A classic example of such a voice would be Prince

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or Tiny Tim



Compare those voices to  Michale Jackson in "childhood".



Now compare that to a known Mezzo Soprano  Marilyn Horne..


Last but not least there is one existing recording very old recording of a classically trained Messo Soprano, Alessandro Moreschi.  He was quite old and not in his prime when this recording was made.  

 Do you notice the difference between Michael Jackson's voice and the first two, the similarity to the last one?  Michael Jackson sings with lilt and changes in tone and pitch two  or three octaves above middle C.  He changes pitch and tone and his voice does not break in the least.  In technical terms he sings at that range in his modal voice.  Compare that to prince, who I would call an accomplished countertenor or contralto, he sings in his falsetto. Tiny Tim definitely falsetto.

As for Marilyn Horne's voice Michael Jackson could have hit every single one of those notes without the least bit of strain and sang in that register with no difficulty and not once a falsetto note.  Listening and comparing his voice to that of Michael Jacksons, and Prince and Tiny tim.  Notice that Moreschi, like Jackson and Horne can sing with litl and changes of pitch with no strain  or difficulty.  Prince and Tiny Tim on the other hand have a high monotone expressed through their nasal cavity as all falsetto ranges are. Michael Jacksons voice in terms of pitch range, flexibility in that high range, tone, and resonance is more like that of Alessandro Moreschi's or Marilyn Hornes than Prince's or Tiny Tim's.  In short Michale Jackson's voice was that of a Mezzo-Soprano or Soprano.

In My Humble but Informed Opinion.

His voice and it's Soprano or even mezzo-Soprano register is the strongest evidence that Michale was a modern Castrati.  While I AM NOT SAYING that he was forcibly physically castrated or any such thing, he could only have had the singing and speaking voice he did by way of some kind of endocrine problem. No ammount of training alone can effect a male voice to sound like his singing voice.  A problem born of the root autoimune condition that took his skin color and possibly contributed to his death  could have caused hypogonadism and delyaed or much reduced puberty and masculinizeation.  Thus resulting, with hard work, and love of music in a singing voice the likes of which we may not see for hundreds of years to come. 

References:





  1. "Castrato" Wikipedia Accessed June 28 2009.






  2. "Farinelli" Wikipedia Accessed June 28 2009.






  3. Bontempi, G: Historia Musica (Perugia, 1695), p. 170






  4. Taraborrelli, p. 602 via Wikipedia. 






  5. "Michael Jackson". Rollingstone.com. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5940053/35_michael_jackson


















  6. "Blacks Sound Rally Cry For Jackson" CBS News






  7. Jin Y, Mailloux CM, Gowan K, Riccardi SL, LaBerge G, Bennett DC, Fain PR,
    Spritz RA (2007). "NALP1 in vitiligo-associated multiple autoimmune
    disease". N. Engl. J. Med. 356 (12): 1216–25. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa061592. PMID 17377159.