Singing That Changes The World
Can you really change the world with singing that has been so electronically manipulated it could have been generated by a computer and no one would know the difference? Is the magic of one human voice, unaltered, not enough any more?
The pop music world is dominated by beautiful young people many of whom don’t have much by way of voice, but can dance and look good on a magazine cover, or do well creating fragrances or clothing lines. Althea Franklin, with her incredible talent, would have a hard time breaking into the business today. She was a somewhat awkward, not very attractive or slender youngster when she made “Respect”. She didn’t have a perfume or a line of exercise equipment to sell. She just sang and, absolutely, that was enough. She didn’t dance, but she could certainly move, and she wasn’t and isn’t an actress, but she can certainly tell a story through a song.
Electronic gimmicks are OK. They can be cute, interesting and sometimes are creative in their own right, but as someone who sings and teaches singing, I am not interested in what the electronic engineer can do to a voice, I am drawn to the uniqueness of the voice and the artist on their own. Elvis had a great instrument sitting above those gyrating hips. Yes, he was very handsome, but it was his voice that we got first. Surely, Elvis changed the world.
Of course, there are people who are famous for sounding awful, in fact, quite a few of them who manage to make that their signature. That can work, as quirkiness can be interesting, particularly if it is honestly out in the open and not the result of someone’s electronic embroidery.
Who are you vocally? Do you know?
If you sing, you need to know what your own voice is. You need to understand how it works as an instrument and how to get the most out of it using just your lungs and your brain. You need to understand how your larynx makes sound and what you have to do to keep your vocal folds healthy. Before you go into a recording studio know what you sound like minus any outside help. If you rely on electronics to make you sound good, even if you succeed, you will be forever dependent upon the sound guy and the producer to present yourself. Those of us who are “of a certain age” are unafraid to stand up and sing alone, with no music, without apology and without a microphone of any kind.
Singing That Changes The World
It all begins with you. If you want to make someone who is sad suddenly feel better, if you want to calm down someone who is angry and frustrated, if you want to communicate a powerful message to the world in such as way as to catch everyone’s ear, you have to have your own voice under your control. You have to know what you want to say in your singing and you have to be able to say it without outside help. Our job as musicians (same root word as magicians) is to TRANSFORM the world through our art. You can’t do that if all you have to give is a canned performance that was created in a studio. Ask yourself, who will heal the world if the healers are all afraid to sing from their hearts because they don’t trust their own voices and bodies? Who?