Jones wins the first Voice Icon Award

JoongAng Daily - - Front Page - AP

NEW YORK — Darth Vader, Mu­fasa, and even the tagline for a cer­tain 24-hour news net­work helped make James Earl Jones one of the most rec­og­niz­able voices on the planet, and soon the re­cip­i­ent of the first Voice Icon Award.

But ac­cord­ing to the ac­tor, there was a pe­riod when he didn’t do much speak­ing.

As a child he suf­fered from a se­vere stut­ter, and went through a pe­riod where he re­fused to speak at all.

“I once did not speak. I was mute. When I fi­nally did speak, though, I spoke as an adult,’’ Jones said of the trans­for­ma­tion.

Once speak­ing, Jones at­tributes his teacher for pro­vid­ing valu­able ad­vice that would carry him through­out his long ca­reer.

“I was 16 or 17, and my teacher said, `You re­mem­ber your­self speak­ing as a child, you’re now hear­ing your­self as an adult, don’t get im­pressed with it. Don’t lis­ten to it, be­cause you can fall in love with the melo­di­ous­ness of it. If you lis­ten to it, then no­body else will,’’’ he said.

That ad­vice paid off as the Tony-win­ning and Os­car-nom­i­nated ac­tor be­came the ini­tial re­cip­i­ent of the Voice Icon Award from the firstever Voice Arts Awards yes­ter­day.

Spon­sored by the So­ci­ety of Voice Arts and Sciences, this new an­nual event hon­ors the best voices of the year from tele­vi­sion, film, video games, com­mer­cials, and au­dio­books.

“There is magic in the hu­man voice,’’ an elated Jones told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “And I’m hon­ored.’’

While Jones treats all of his voice char­ac­ter­i­za­tions with equal love, there are a few that stand out.

One of them is Mu­fasa from Dis­ney’s ``The Lion King.’’

“I found my­self as an adult watch­ing it with great in­ter­est and great in­volve­ment. When Mu­fasa died, I un­der­stood Simba break­ing down and cry­ing be­cause Daddy is gone. ... That had an ef­fect on me, that film.’’

Then there’s the iconic CNN tagline. He likes that one after learn­ing of its im­pact over­seas.

“The time I was most proud of that was dur­ing the first Iraq war. Fliers would come back to base; they would men­tion that once they got inside and they heard, `This is CNN,’ they knew they were home, or a piece of home. I’m very proud to rep­re­sent that.’’

But when asked about Darth Vader, and if there was truth to the ru­mor that Jones would reprise the role in a flash­back ca­pac­ity in the up­com­ing “Star Wars’’ film, Jones mis­chie­vously laughed it off, say­ing, “Oh, Darth is dead. Darth is dead.’’

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