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Woman who was original voice of Siri didn't even know her voice was being used

Woman who was original voice of Siri didn't even know her voice was being used

Apple's Siri was released years after Susan Bennett recorded the original sounds, so she had no idea until someone told her

The woman who lent her voice to the original Siri says she had no idea what she was actually recording at the time, but has since become one of the people with the most listened-to voices of all time.

OK, we’ve not actually got the raw statistics for that, but given the number of iPhones that are out there in the world and the amount of people who have used – or heard someone use – Siri, it’s a fairly safe bet.

Anyway, Susan Bennett wasn’t even working as a voiceover actor back in 2005, but got her biggest role – as so many people do – completely by accident.

Susan Bennett recorded the original sounds in 2005.
Pixsell/Alamy Stock Photo

She was working at a music studio in Atlanta when an actor didn’t turn up, which meant that she ended up with the gig recording for a software company.

Speaking to Insider, she said: “I got into voiceover acting by accident.

“I used to sing jingles for commercials, and I worked out of a few studios in Atlanta.

“One day, while I was there recording, a voice actor for another commercial didn't show up.

“When we were finished with the song, the owner of the studio said, ‘Susan, you don't have an accent. Come over here and record this copy.’

“It went well, I got a voice coach, and that was the beginning of it all.”

This all started in 2005, six years before Apple came out with Siri, so when she did those first recordings she couldn’t have known that it would become one of the most recognisable sounds on the planet.

However, there were some odd parts to it.

Siri is on every iPhone in the world.
B Christopher/Alamy Stock Photo

Susan continued: “I made the recordings that would eventually be used for the famous personal assistant.

“But I had no idea at the time.

“I got a gig to record for the IVR (interactive voice response) company ScanSoft, now called Nuance.

“I thought the script would consist of regular IVR sayings, like ‘thanks for calling,’ or ‘please dial one.’

“Instead, I had to read nonsensical sentences like ‘cow hoist in the tug hut today’ or ‘say shift fresh issue today’ — they were trying to get all of the sound combinations in the English language.

“They also had me read the names of addresses and streets.

“I recorded from home four hours a day, five days a week for the entire month of July. “Maybe the first hundred or so were fun and interesting, and after that it got pretty tiring.”

The realisation of what she’d done came afterwards.

She added: “Six years later, a fellow voice actor emailed me and said, ‘hey, we're playing around with this new iPhone — isn't this you?’

“I had no idea what they were talking about.

“I went straight to Apple's website to listen and knew immediately that it was my voice.”

Bennett didn't know she was the voice of Siri, but she's happy with how things worked out.
Pixsell/Alamy Stock Photo

Because of her work taking place before Apple’s personal assistant was created, she didn’t ever get paid by them, but also didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement, meaning that Bennett – and the Siris from other countries – could eventually use their strange fame for personal gain. Bennett said: “The fact that Apple didn't pay us meant that we didn't have a nondisclosure agreement, either.

“We all decided, ‘well, we might as well see if we can make it work for us.’

“We began to promote ourselves.

“I've been featured on TV shows, given a TEDx Talk, and spoken on the radio.

“It's not something I ever would've seen myself doing 15 years ago, but it's been really fun.”

She’s also had other gigs over the years too, and if you’re ever at Atlanta airport’s Delta gate, you’ll hear her.

Then, there’s TV commercials – though she had to have her agent get in contact to get paid for that one.

Nowadays, Siri has been updated so it’s no longer her voice, which means that she can finally use the service.

She admitted: “I never talked to Siri when she had my voice — it was just too weird.”

Featured Image Credit: Pixsell / Wachiwit / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Apple, Technology, Weird, iPhone