Music today is not simple anymore. It’s overdone, hyped, electrically altered, arranged, and hardly ever just plain left alone. I wonder if any of the pop divas, on their own without any equipment, could hold an audience in someone’s living room. I wonder if they have ever sung at a wedding, in a small church, or anywhere on their own with no help and been really wonderful or maybe even memorable.
I wonder, too, what happens with opera singers? Can they sing simply? I’ve known quite a few who could not sing “Happy Birthday” without going into full opera sound, which is simply ridiculous. Every Christmas when the NY Singing Teachers’ Association held its annual holiday party the teachers would sing Christmas carols, and when they got to O Holy Night, I literally hid under the grand piano. It was just scary. Silent Night always sounded like the Anvil Chorus. Stupid.
You can listen to a dozen versions of Amazing Grace on YouTube and never hear the actual melody straight through. So many melismas!
Yes, of course, there are artists out there who do sing honestly, from the heart, and have something to say that is real. There are people who still care about the songs they do and how they do them. The music that gets attention, however, is not so much about that. The stuff you hear on the competition shows and the awards shows is about being impressive, powerful, and loud. Occasionally, it’s moving, but mostly it’s just loud for loud’s sake and who cares about that? Oh, I guess, most of the audience!
So many people who “know” about singing don’t. They don’t know that there is a way to sing that is balanced and free, based on health and function and grounded in expressiveness. Some of the people who know least about it are composers, judges of competitions (on and off TV), producers and directors. When the people who are in charge of vocalists know next to nothing about singing everyone suffers, particularly the artists.
Helping a young vocalist find her true, honest, real, grounded voice and the connection of her sound to her heart is the DUTY of a good teacher. If you study singing and your teacher isn’t helping you be more of who you are, run away!