Original Uhura Didn’t Need Digital Enhancement To Sing, Hear Nichelle’s Amazing Voice On The Star Trek Set
While Star Trek: Strange New Worlds used digital tools to enhance its stars’ singing voices for its musical episode, Nichelle Nichols on the Original Series didn’t need such assistance. Nichols was an accomplished singer and stage performer before her role as Uhura and her skills can be seen on display in the series. But check out this on-set, between takes recording of her beautiful voice as she casually sings while awaiting her cue.
Certainly there has been music and even on-screen singing in Star Trek before, but the Original Series notably tended to feature Nichols, who was more than once given excuses to sing bits and pieces and even entire songs that were written for the series. The above clip shows just part of the reason why: Nichols’ gentle ease and magnetic smile made her a stunning musical presence whenever she sang. Producers knew this about her and worked to include her talents in the show whenever they could.
Nichols was an accomplished singer and stage performer before her role as Uhura and her skills can be seen on display in the series.
The musical episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is not entirely a new thing in that sense, given that the franchise has long featured musical numbers, often performed by members of the crew. Brent Spiner, Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Data, has been so well known for his singing that he featured fellow TNG cast members on an album called Ol’ Yellow Eyes is Back and famously sang “Blue Skies” in Star Trek: Nemesis.
Many musical Star Trek moments—especially those featuring instruments played on screen—have been mimed, with some more successful than others. But characters from Worf to O’Brien to the legendary Vic Fontaine have sung onscreen. Thanks to Strange New Worlds, we can now add Spock, Pike, and many more to that list, as you can hear in this opening number from the episode.
By comparing these clips, we’re not saying the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds cast can’t sing. They seem to be genuinely good, but they have had vocal enhancements added. Surely, this isn’t totally new as on-screen singers have long performed to pre-recorded (and effects-sweetened) versions of their own voices.
The musical episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is not entirely a new thing in that sense, given that the franchise has long featured musical numbers, often performed by members of the crew.
But there is something to be said—much, actually—for the un-fooled-around-with natural beauty of Nichelle Nichols’ singing voice. Outtakes from the 1960s series are not as abundant, though Gene Rodenberry was known to collect and show short reels of them at conventions in the 1970s and ’80s. So it’s lovely to see an unrehearsed, unedited moment of Nichols being herself and singing, as she often did, between takes on set.
Nichelle Nichols’ Passing
Having lost the original Uhura just last year, Star Trek fans are always happy to see footage of the queen herself, and this clip is a beautiful one. It shows the heart, the glow, and the confidence Nichols brought, not to mention how good her voice sounded, even when she was stuffed under a comms panel. Digitally enhanced or not, the fact that the new Uhura (played by Celia Rose Gooding) also sings—even outside the musical episode—is a lovely callback to the original character and the wonderful lady who brought her to life.