James Earl Jones: A Voice in the Crowd

Essay by SleeperUniversity, Master'sA+, March 1996

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James Earl Jones:

A Voice in the Crowd

March 19, 1996

People all around the world know the voice of James Earl Jones. From Star Wars fans listening to the voice of Darth Vader to news junkies who hear a voice that dramatically intones "This is CNN" just before all the cable network's station breaks to children who hear the stately voice of the majestic Mufasa, the king of the jungle in Walt Disney Pictures" animated The Lion King - people know this deep harmonious voice belongs to this consummate actor of stage and screen.

James Earl Jones was born January 17th, 1931, in Arkabutala Township, Mississippi. His natural parents, Ruth and Robert Earl, moved away to the Mississippi Delta when he was an infant. Raised for the rest of his young life by his maternal grandparents, James Earl developed a close relationship with the Connollys. "Maggie and John Henry were always there, day by day, and they became for me, once and for all, my mama and my papa" (18) .

Less than three years later, the Connollys moved to Dublin Michigan where James Earl and his >brother' Randy grew up in a remodelled chicken barn. His early school life had a great impact on his style of speech and diction. "On my first day at school, I could not believe my ears," recalls Jones, "They called me James Earrrrl instead of James Uhl, as it had sounded in the South"(40).

After the initial shock of hearing Northern dialect, Jones "quickly absorbed this different rhythm and style" and embarked on the first half of a long vocal journey leading to his distinctive speaking style. Until he was 14 years old, James Earl Jones rarely spoke mostly due to shyness, preferring silence to the sound of his own...