When I was about eight, my parents started sending me to weekly voice lessons with a local opera singer. She taught me classic vocal technique: breathing, resonance, where to create space, how to avoid straining for high notes.
There’s a lot to learn as a vocalist; singers have to learn and practice their instruments just like any other musician. There’s some natural giftedness involved in being a good singer, but not as much as you might think.
One of the things about being a classically trained singer – or so I was told – is that once you can sing opera, you can sing anything. That’s true in a sense. To this day, I will often pull out tricks I learned performing arias when I’m singing a pop ballad in a club on a Saturday night; opera training is particularly useful for those big runs that a lot of pop singers use (and often overuse) today.
That said, there’s also a lot that opera singers learn that doesn’t come in handy when you’re working on, say, a belty Broadway showstopper or an uptempo Whitney Houston classic. For example, flipping over into full head voice (read: opera) to hit that F below high C (read: really high) isn’t just frowned upon in pop music, it’s a deadly no-no.
So before recording Rise, I spent a lot of time working blending my voice so that those high belty notes would come through crisply and clearly. I think I did pretty well, but the listener is the ultimate judge.
And now, even as I’m performing my straight ahead, unapologetic pop in nightclubs and restaurants, I still hanker to sing more classical music. So, I’m going to be doing some of that too. And why not? I already sing jazz with the No Jive Five and pop / rock with the Rhythm Underground. Opera is another way I can exercise my vocal muscles and spend more time on the stage.
I’ll let you guys know more as I start fleshing out this part of my performing life. I hope to see you at one of my shows!