December 8, 2023
In a heartwarming twist just in time for Christmas, the late legendary actor Jimmy Stewart’s soothing voice is making a comeback, thanks to generative AI technology. Despite having passed away in 1997, Stewart is the enchanting narrator of a fresh audio story released on Tuesday through the sleep and meditation app Calm.
The new story, titled “It’s a Wonderful Sleep Story,” ingeniously leverages generative AI to replicate Stewart’s distinctive tone. With the blessing of the actor’s family and estate, managed by CMG Worldwide, this artificial recreation aims to provide users with a nostalgic and calming experience. The story, part of Calm’s Sleep Stories collection, unfolds on Christmas Eve, offering listeners a festive journey to lull them into a peaceful night’s sleep.
Exclusive to Calm’s premium subscribers, an AI-generated version of the holiday bedtime story narrated in the style of “Jimmy Stewart’s voice” is now available. This project, endorsed and backed by Stewart’s family, underscores the technology’s transformative role in safeguarding a cherished legacy.
“Kelly Stewart Harcourt,” one of Stewart’s daughters, conveyed enthusiasm about her father becoming the voice of Calm’s newest Sleep Story. “It’s amazing what technology can do and wonderful to see dad’s legacy live on this holiday season in new ways, like helping people find restful sleep and sweet dreams.”
The voice for Calm was carefully developed in partnership with Respeecher, an “AI voice-cloning startup,” to uphold authenticity and honor Stewart’s legacy. This involved a meticulous process where a voice actor delivered lines in a manner resembling Stewart’s speech style, and the resulting recording was transformed to closely resemble Stewart’s actual voice.
The story begins with Stewart’s familiar cadence, “Well, hello. I’m James Stewart. But, well, you can call me Jimmy. Tonight, I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a heartwarming story of love, of loss, of hope, and of joy. But most of all, it’s a wonderful sleep story.”
Respeecher co-founder and CEO Alex Serdiuk emphasized the importance of adhering to high ethical standards in this AI recreation. “James Stewart was one of the most remarkable actors in U.S. history. Recreating his voice with AI was both a huge responsibility and an honor for Respeecher,” said Serduik. The company skillfully combined recordings featuring a voice actor with archival snippets of Stewart, capturing the essence of his Western Pennsylvania speech patterns.
“It’s a Wonderful Sleep Story” is now part of the varied assortment of narratives available on the “Calm app,” which has previously partnered with notable personalities like CillianMurphey, Matthew McConaughey, LeBron James, Michael Bublé, and Jennifer Garner. Stewart’s captivating sleep story is now accessible to “Calm premium subscribers,” adding a delightful touch to the app’s rich and immersive content.