I heard a radio interview yesterday with Marni Nixon, a singer who made her entire career from doing the singing for the lead actresses in many of the iconic films of the twentieth century.
When Ms. Nixon got started doing her work there were so many wonderful composers and lyricists to collaborate with, it must have seemed like a dream.
Singing the melodies of Richard Rogers and Leonard Bernstein!
Hmmm, delicious work and, sadly, a lost art form.
Keep Up Your Quest
We singers are selling our voices short if we don’t go searching for those great show tunes, learn the melodies, the lyrics (some lyricists like Cole Porter wrote volumes of extra lyrics!), and build our vocal strength by actually singing.
Not to mention building our repertoire and personal range, learning which keys we sing in best and learning how to transpose these beautiful old gems into our own keys.
What a world a singer can open up for herself if she can step away from the Karaoke version and arrange her own version of a great venerable piece of musical history!
Then add a lick or a run, but know what you’re licking from and where you’re running to!
The staccato arrangement of today’s vocals is meant to accommodate the choreography that’s dominating the popular art form.
Though I simply adore Beyonce for her versatility, style, and work ethic, it does seem that she breathes in the middle of syllables and embellishments.
Now, the way she’s kickin’ it, Beyonce has a reason for needing that extra breath –what’s your excuse?
That was the first question asked when I sat down to talk to A&R people at Warner Bros. for my first record (Bigger World-’89).
I was, admittedly, clueless, and though tremendously talented, a much harder “sell” than the artist they next interviewed.
She came in with a mailing list, a website, upcoming scheduled performances, a soft drink idea, a doll design with a complete wardrobe, and an organization she was affiliated with just waiting for her first release!
I had no chance. The company’s attention was on how to plug this artist’s existing package into their larger corporate machine; I had no organized career to speak of.
Just an example of the music industry not being only about a great song and a wonderful performance, but more and more about the multi-marketing potential of a talent and the profit that is generated from it.
Don’t feel dumb if you don’t know that term; I didn’t either ’til I had to.
The demographic is your fan base, the people whom you’ve reached and the ones you aspire to…the people moved by your music.
A successful artist will likely have done a ton of research on a particular targeted demographic.
The wonderful thing is I can tip you off to the industry expectation of its importance and influence in building your career.
Think through these factors when it comes to people connecting with your singing: age group, educational level, religious affiliation? American Cancer Association? CARE? ASPCA?
Now is the time for all good singers to decide their demographic and claim it!
Yesterday my Berklee Global Jazz Institute vocal group sang in the opening concert of the Newport Jazz Festival! We did one song, “Autumn Leaves,” my arrangement! The two young ladies are the children of the director of the Global Jazz Initiative at Berklee, Marco Pignataro, who was also a disciple of Dizzy Gillespie! Singing in the Newport Jazz Festival was truly an amazing experience!
The Berklee Global Jazz Institute is designed to help instrumentalists and vocalists with unique talent and wide-ranging musical interests achieve their artistic goals through an experiential and interdisciplinary approach. As part of the BGJI this summer I have been coaching this vocal ensemble.
Singing in the Newport Jazz Festival was truly an amazing experience for my students, and me!
Global Jazz Initiative Vocal Buzz!!!!! Jack O’connor, Daniel Barbrack,John (Jack)VanGorden, Daniela, and Carolina! Thanks, Young Musicians, for a remarkable week!!! WE ALL GREW SO MUCH! <3 Forever!
w Marco Pignataro, Director of the Berklee Global Jazz Initiative.
Dottie West was a super hero type woman! She overcame so many dastardly odds to become the singing sensation she was. She had so much personality and was so smooth in her delivery of a line or a song! I found her enchanting to be around and was devastated when she passed!
When asked to fly to LA and sing with her and Kenny on the tour of their duet album, I was ecstatic! And while in LA, I was especially honored and thrilled to call my friend Denise Stewart (Denise S Bates), who was a fellow Fiskite, to sing the third part on the songs we were to perform!! That was something! we had a ball!!!!
I was recovering from a horrible auto wreck, in barefoot, following through with a show I’d been rehearsing for weeks before the wreck. I went on the stage at Exit Inn( Ithink, somebody help me! It may have been the War Memorial or some place like that!) When I had finished a horribly frantic over-done, busy set of maybe 4-5 songs, the emcee came out and said, “We’ve got a young lady who just came to town this week… she wants to have a career in the record industry. Why don‘t we help her get started with a nice welcoming hand?”
Out walked Kathy Mattea, guitar strung across her shoulder and under her arm. I’m still speechless in remembering that indescribable rich true gorgeous siren of a voice!!! Next thing I knew I was singing on her record(s)!! This is one of the opps Vicki Hampton and I got to be as creative as the artist, and it’s because Kathy had the chops to let us do our thing and still show totally OUT!!!!!!!