Longest-held vocal note in a song (studio recording)
Tee Green
39 second(s)
United Kingdom (Hornchurch)

A studio recording of singer/songwriter/”vocal coach to the stars” Tee Green (UK) performing the Benard Ighner standard “Everything Must Change” contains a same-pitch vocal note that stretches to 39 seconds. The lung-busting note, recorded at a private studio in Hornchurch, Essex, UK, on 27 March 2011, lasts three seconds longer than American singer Melba Moore’s 36-second effort at the end of “The Other Side of the Rainbow”, the title track of her 1982 studio album.

Green’s record-worthy note starts 5 minutes 31 seconds into the track and finishes at 6 minutes 10 seconds. The note is held on the word “fly”, in the concluding lyric “Rain comes from the clouds / Sun lights up the sky / Hummingbirds do fly.” “Everything Must Change” was recorded at the house of (and was produced by) Pete Adams, musical director for Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam) since 2005.

Moore’s epic note, on the word “end” in the line “At your journey’s end”, starts at 5 minutes 12 seconds and finishes at 5 minutes 48 seconds. It’s the longest studio-recorded note by a female singer and the longest-held single note ever heard on an album track. American singer/songwriter Shawn Phillips made a continuous sound for 40 seconds on the track “Planned “O””, from his 1973 studio album Bright White, but the note has an ascending pitch and has been discounted (see below).

Other prominent long-held notes can be found on A-ha’s Norwegian No.1 single from 2000, “Summer Moved On” (20 seconds, performed by frontman Morten Harket), Jeff Buckley’s 1994 recording of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (20 seconds), Barbra Streisand’s Yentl soundtrack (1983) cut “A Piece of Sky” (19 seconds), and, perhaps most famously, Bill Withers’ 1977-78 transatlantic hit “Lovely Day” (18 seconds).

Vocal notes extended by digital enhancement and notes that change pitch – most notably Shawn Phillips’ ascending 40-second lung-buster on “Planned “O””, as well as memorable examples on Nitro’s “Machine Gunn Eddie” (26 seconds) and Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” (18 seconds) – are disqualified from this category.

“I’ve been singing long notes for years as a party trick and have used this skill many times at charity events to help raise money,” said Green, who confirmed that 48 seconds was one of his best times for holding a single note. “When I sing I always give it everything I have at that time, but I recover quite quickly as I’m a vocal coach so I’m normally fit enough for a few more goes if needed. However, I usually feel the effects the next day so I remain silent for as long as possible.”

“Everything Must Change” was written and performed by Ighner (USA, 1945-2017) on Quincy Jones’ 1974 album Body Heat. It’s also been recorded by the likes of George Benson, Judy Collins, Randy Crawford, Nina Simone and Barbra Streisand. “It’s a very meaningful song if you believe in destiny and the higher power,” Jones said of “Everything”, which has been described as a “haunting masterwork”.

Green’s CV includes a co-writing credit on *NSYNC’s “Together Again”, from the boy band’s self-titled debut album (1997), backing vocals on the majority of tracks on East 17’s first three albums (including 1994’s Christmas No.1 single “Stay Another Day”), and vocal contributions for the Lighthouse Family (on the Top 3 albums Ocean Drive and Postcards from Heaven), Lulu (Independence), Kylie Minogue (“Celebration”), Steps (“If You Believe”) and Will Young (“You and I”), among many other collaborations as a writer, arranger, producer and vocalist. He has contributed to 130 albums with combined sales of 170 million.

His personal highlights include writing Top 10 hits for the boy band Worlds Apart, singing and arranging background vocals with Daryl Hall for his 1993 album Soul Alone, “rescuing and retrieving” Alexander O’Neal’s voice “with minutes to spare” before one of his live shows, and working with Lulu (his “most enjoyable” experience), Hall (“most exciting”) and Lionel Richie (“coolest and easiest”).

Green also released a handful of his own singles in the early-mid 1990s – from “Someday We’ll All Be Free” in 1992 to “Don’t Hold Back” in 1994. He’s blessed with a four-and-a-half octave vocal range.

On 7 April 2020, Green uploaded a video to YouTube of him performing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, in tribute to the NHS amid the coronavirus pandemic.