Bill Withers is best known for his songs Ain’t No Sunshine and Lean on Me. Ain’t No Sunshine, the lead single from Withers’ debut album (Just As I Am, 1971), was Bill Withers’ breakthrough hit (peaking at #3 on the Billboard hot hundred). The album was produced by Booker T Jones and Ain’t No Sunshine features Stephen Stills on guitar.
Uploaded in April 2022, Geoff Castellucci’s distinctive cover of Ain’t No Sunshine is essentially an acapella version, although the effect is achieved by Castellucci multi-tracking his own voice. What distinguishes Castellucci’s version is his low range, but he is no one-trick pony. As the video shows, his bass singing is just one of his registers.
Geoff Castellucci’s range is almost 4 octaves (C♯1 – A5), excluding his falsetto. In his cover of Ain’t No Sunshine, he puts his vocal dexterity to good use, nonetheless, it is his deep bass voice that dominates, particularly since it features so strongly in the first 1:20 of the cover. In the YouTube comments, therealbahamut wittily captures the impact of Castellucci’s low bass singing: “You do not listen to Geoff with your ears. You listen with your BONES”.
The Charismatic Voice podcast suggests that Castellucci can reach bass notes lower than some keyboards. Nonetheless, as Rowdy ReidGirl observes: “He’s a one-man bass/baritone/tenor quartet. I’m a pianist and 10 years trained mezzo-soprano…. I’m speechless.” Under his Ain’t No Sunshine video, Castellucci notes that Bill Withers sings “I know” 26 times in his version. “I say it a few times more than that for good measure and because it’s just good clean fun”. Here is Castellucci singing low.
So, while Castellucci has a naturally deep, low speaking voice – which is an advantage – the video shows that his ability to sing low bass is the result of technique, extensive practice, and, in the case of “the growl”, working through a lot of pain. It also helps to have a good singing voice, a wide vocal range, and an excellent sense of pitch.
Castellucci’s most popular solo video is his deep voice cover of Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold from the Hobbit soundtrack (14.47M YouTube views).
As Geoff Castellucci mentions at the beginning of his video introduction to low singing, he is the bass singer in the acapella group VoicePlay. Based in Orlando, Florida, VoicePlay started off as a street corner barbershop act and then progressed to working at theme parks in the Orlando region. In 2012, VoicePlay started a YouTube channel to showcase their abilities so as to attract audiences for their shows. Over the years, the YouTube channel, which now has 1.26 subscribers, became an important part of the group’s activity.
In 2013, VoicePlay appeared on the Sing Off TV show. While the group didn’t make the final, the show increased their profile, which was further boosted when the group was invited on two consecutive Sing Off tours.
All of the members of VoicePlay work in music and sing outside of the group, but they see VoicePlay as the hub of their activities. The members tend to meet once a month to touch base and decide on songs for videos. Once one of the members has arranged a song, the others comment and adjustments are made. Mostly, each member records his part at home. When the group is satisfied, they send the song to their mix engineer for a final gloss. The group then collaborates on the making of their elaborate, theatrical videos. This working process, they say, enables them to work on more than one project at a time. Here is VoicePlay’s January 2023 cover of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters: