Make online music communities advocates for your music –says Kenny Wesley
Kenny Wesley is rising singer with an amazing 4-octave range.
He represented the USA at the 2013 Shure Montreux Jazz Vocal Competition curated by Quincy Jones, has performed in a private concert at the White House and was the opening act for soul music legend Stephanie Mills.
Now he shares tips and strategies with our VoiceCouncil audience…
One influential singer, and what it is that makes them stand out to you?
Dionne Warwick: she was the first singer I ever heard that used her voice truly as an instrument employing the various textures of the head voice and chest voice, and combining them in really interesting ways.
Biggest challenge to breaking out and sharing your music with new people?
The all-time high quantity of artists releasing music coupled with the all-time low record sales make it challenging for emerging artists to stand out and garner the interest of labels, management firms and booking agencies.
Something’s that’s worked for you in reaching a larger audience?
The internet has been my best friend and biggest advocate: my radio support (I’ve connected to so many DJs from all over the world), my PR (I met my publicist, Sherri Thompson, and so many promoters through online music communities), and my primary distribution channel (social media, CDBaby, YouTube and iTunes have been amazingly helpful)!
A performance FAIL?
I was once performing at an open mic in New York City, in front of several legendary artists and I noticed the audience was laughing… my fly was unzipped.
A performance SUCCESS – and why…?
The Montreux Jazz Festival: I always dreamed of performing there and not only did I perform there, but I received standing ovations after every song and won a lot of cool stuff!
A musical lesson you’ve learned the hard way?
Always make sure the first impression you give is your absolute best: when preparing your first live shows, be sure to build the set list with material that highlights your unique strengths as a musician and performer.
A vocal-singing lesson you’ve learned the hard way?
Invest in in-ear monitors: when I would perform with large bands (especially ones with horn sections) the on-stage noise level was always very high and I could never really hear the nuances of the vocals in the monitor wedges properly, and as a result I never felt like I could give my absolute best performance and have a solid grip on my intonation.
Most important lesson you have learned about social media?
Use it because it can really help increase the distribution of your art while simultaneously connecting you to more like-minded music lovers, creatives and industry professionals!
Most important lesson you have learned about vocal health?
That the body is my instrument, so I must really be in tune with it, treasure it being careful of everything I put in it.
A question you wished we asked you – and your answer?
“Did you take vocal lessons and why?”
Yes, because in listening to vocalists like Dionne over the years and hearing the amazing things they did with their voices, I was curious to know if there was a certain technique or method behind what they were doing (and there is!).
Kenny Wesley is a songwriter, pianist, and vocalist with a range spanning four octaves. His songs, fusing funk, jazz and electronic music, are featured prominently in TV and film.