I love doing voice-overs. And fortunately I’ve gotten to do a lot of them. I did my first recordings back in the 80s as a member of the comedy trio Isaac Air Freight: 5 studio albums and 7 limited edition releases from our radio series The Isaac Air Show. (Here’s a link to the first voice-over I ever did: Prodigal Joe.) I went on to write and perform on a series of children’s recordings for the same studio.
Later, I performed with the comedy duo Mitch & Allen. By the mid-2000’s I’d done radio, audio books (“Get paid to read?!”), and the now-classic Zondervan Dramatized Audio Bible, for which I narrated most of the Psalms as King David.
I’ve always had huge respect for great voice-over artists. They’re the people who invade our lives without us ever knowing their names. Except for one:
Don LaFontaine. Don’t know the name? You know his voice. And you know his signature line, “In a world where…” Often called “the golden voice,” he was the most successful voice-over artist of all time.
Shortly after we moved to Burbank, California, my daughter Beth enrolled in gymnastics. One day, she and her new back-flipping, cartwheeling buddy Skye insisted she sleep over at Skye’s house–that night!
Two hours later we motored up a hill. And up. And up. Until we reached a multi-million dollar mansion with a 180° panoramic view of Hollywood. Skye’s dad Don, a down-to-earth bald dude in loafers welcomed us, introducing us to Skye’s mom, a wonderful pop/R&B singer named Nita, and their other “golden children” (bi-racial). I still love that term–and the attitude that goes with it.
Skye’s dad and I talked while she and Beth ran off to play. And then something clicked: This was that Don LaFontaine–the freakin’ Pope of voice-over!
Every time Beth and Skye hung out, Don and I hung out. We sat in his recording studio basement–directly wired to the studios and television networks–and talked showbiz. The only nuisance: about every 20 minutes we’d be interrupted by a buzzer. Don would say, “Excuse me,” slip into his booth, and record a line for, say, CBS (“Tonight on Touched by an Angel you’ll be touched!”). Once I asked, “How much did you just make?” He shrugged and said, “I don’t know. $15 or 20 thousand–my agent handles that stuff.”
He passed away just a few years later. I’m so grateful to have lived in a world where Don LaFontaine lived–both the artist and the person. Yes, I do voice-overs, but…
There will never be another “golden voice.”