Hello, June, with your promise of warm weather and lazy days by the pool. Summertime is the perfect time to squeeze in hours of audiobook listening. A good story makes a walk, run, or bike ride speed by and takes the sting out of yardwork and gardening. Of course, others of us are happier listening to an audiobook while relaxing on the deck or taking in the sun on the beach.
No matter your listening style, June is a great month for audiobook fans: not only is it the official Audiobook Month but it’s the time of year we announce a new slate of Golden Voice narrators. AudioFile gives this award as way to honor a narrator’s full body of work in the medium and to recognize their contribution to audiobooks in general.
Among this year’s inductees are two of my favorite women narrators, Cassandra Campbell and Soneela Nankani, whom I spotlight today. Stay tuned—later in the month I interview the third 2021 Golden Voice: Michael Crouch. We’re thrilled to welcome this new class of Golden Voice performers.
Cassandra Campbell, who has won Audie Awards and Earphones Awards and is listed on several of AudioFile’s best-of-the-year lists, is well known for her atmospheric performances that capture the author’s intended mood and emotions. Her sense of timing and soft voice build strong bridges between story and listener. Experience Cassandra’s impressive skills with accents and portraying characters’ personalities by queuing up HALF LIFE by Jillian Cantor, which imagines what Marie Curie’s life would have been like if she hadn’t pursued her studies. Cassandra seems to effortlessly meet the challenges of nonfiction, as you can hear in Sarah Stewart Johnson’s THE SIRENS OF MARS. Here, Cassandra takes a conversational approach, making it easy for us to follow the research about extraplanetary life while at the same time getting a sense of the author’s lifelong passion for science and discovery. You can learn more about Cassandra's narrating in my 5 Questions article with her from a few years ago.
Soneela Nankani also has an impressive list of Earphones Award–winning performances and has garnered spots on best-of-the-year lists in a variety of genres. Though many listeners will recognize her voice from audiobooks that feature South Asian characters, she has, in fact, narrated a range of fiction and nonfiction, showcasing her ability to deliver humor and drama and especially to convey how characters change and grow over the course of a novel. The latter skill is exemplified in the way Soneela portrays the main character of Madi Sinha’s THE WHITE COAT DIARIES, a young physician learning what it takes both professionally and personally to transform herself from inexperienced intern to confident resident at a Philadelphia hospital. Soneela’s lively delivery of MAYA AND THE RISING DARK by Rena Barron brings all the action and emotions to the surface in this middle-grade fantasy adventure story of how a young girl tries to save her father from dark forces. The whole family will root for Maya’s success and will love the way Soneela gives a distinct voice to each character. Learn more about Soneela's narration skills in my 5 Questions article with her from last fall.
Both Cassandra and Soneela have won praise for their contributions in multicast productions across the genres. For example, Cassandra’s performance of a confident, independent woman in Beatriz Williams’s OUR WOMAN IN MOSCOW is the perfect foil for narrator Nicola Barber’s characterization of that woman’s more conservative twin, in this Cold War novel. Soneela has contributed to a several well-received story collections, but her most well known collaborative performances are the rom-com audiobooks she shares with narrator Vikas Adam. The two create a believable chemistry between their characters, along with authentic accents and excellent comedic delivery, which can be heard, for example, in their joint work on THE MARRIAGE CODE by Brooke Burroughs.
Congratulations again to Cassandra Campbell and Soneela Nankani for being honored as Golden Voices. They are in good company, joining other voice actors like January LaVoy, Emily Woo Zeller, and Davina Porter. You can meet all of AudioFile’s Golden Voice narrators by browsing the Golden Voice web page.