There are countless singers all over the world at all sorts of levels – from amateur to professional – whose concept of great singing is defined by a desire to reach the highest technical expertise possible. Their ambition is to become a singer who can perfectly hit every note in the vocal range, from the high notes to the low notes.
It is easy to think that a great singer is just someone who blends his/her voice in all the ‘mix’ zones in a perfectly smooth way, someone who, when performing is able to incorporate dozens of different types of vocal effects, distortion techniques, stylistic devices and so on.
Of course, everyone agrees that all of these are very cool, and reaching a high level in all of these elements is often the ambition of every contemporary singer. However, performers sometimes obsess over the technical and mechanical aspects of their art, and may end up forgetting what singing is all about, and even why they started singing in the first place.
Believe it or not, I had the same mindset in my early twenties.
Since I started teaching and mentoring many years ago, I have noticed this pattern occuring again and again for so many performers. Artists who are highly accomplished technically, can sometimes be incomplete musically. In my case I felt – quite early on – that this approach of focusing solely on my vocal technique was erroneous and I realised that beyond the ‘technical’ vocal study, some fundamental ‘theoretical’ elements matter the most. From that moment in my career, I began developing a simple and clear classification for these elements. In fact, this classification is one of the first things I mention to every single student at the very beginning of our singing lessons.
Let’s start with the first element:
1) Character – Personality
The first thing and certainly the most fundamental for every singer and performer is to understand what makes a voice truly unique and remarkable. For example, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash are far from being considered great “singers” – regarding their singing technique, some critics might say they are not even of an average quality.
However, they are renowned as two of the most legendary singers-songwriters in history, and each of them have sold close to 100 million records.
This is absolutely justified, and nothing to do with luck. What makes them legends is their unique characters and unprecedented personalities and you can hear this in every single second of their songs. This one simple thing was enough to make them dominate forces during their music careers.
This element of “personality” is most significant, and it’s the one that makes the difference between a average artist and a unique one. Consider this when you are working on your voice and ask: “Does my singing allow me to discover myself?”
Next week I’ll analyse the second core element.
Till then feel free to leave your comments and tell me what you think about the above. Does character/personality is the first and most vital principle for every singer and performer?