Below is a performance of "All I Could Do Was Cry" by the great Etta James. Her performance of this song is just harrowingly intimate and raw.
I wish the ballad-belters of today (Whitney, Mariah...) would use melisma and other vocal techniques with the restraint Etta used in this performance. Etta's performance was not about, "Watch me use my voice to demonstrate what a spectacular singer I am." No, it was all about singing her pain in a way that makes you feel it with her. Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and the rest of the pop "divas" are about narcissism and empty virtuosity. Good singing is an act of communication. Great singing makes you one with the song, NOT the singer. It is an act of service.
Etta said she wept as soon as the recording ended. *That's* how it's done.