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Singer-Songwriters Who Sell Their Songs

There’s never any musical “auto-pilot” for successful singers –says Rachel Lebon

I have had the good fortune of working with singer-songwriters who have successfully pitched their original songs to various international artists.

How do they do it?

If I were to reflect on what these successful musicians have in common, I would have to say that it has something to do with the magic of their vocal presentation.

All of them have ability to usher you into their world immediately, setting a mood from their first vocal utterance.

I think this is achievable by all vocalists.

Just consider these points – and your songs are sure to become more compelling:

• Just as great dancers present choreography as if they are inventing the steps spontaneously, these singers communicate song lyrics as if the words are occurring to them right then and there, even though they may have rehearsed and performed a song countless times.

• They may sound “natural” and conversational, but they weigh each word and phrase carefully, being very deliberate in their pronunciation and phrasing –
never on autopilot.

• They keep you hanging on their every word, literally, paying attention to the ends of words and phrases rather than dropping off or not finishing their words.

• They linger on voiced consonants (like the “l” and “v” and “me” in love me for warmth, while bringing unvoiced consonants (“f” “t,” “k” in foolish talk) forward for intensity and projection. They sound believable because when we are in emotionally intimate moments, our jaws hang, our lips become soft and loose, and our tongue becomes flexible. Singing is a sensual experience, so they give in to those sensations, which are particularly effective on microphone.

• They “microphrase, ” that is, they attend to the two or three -word phrase segments within the larger phrase, so that the lyrics communicate with more power.

Ultimately, it’s not just the voice or just the song that enables a singer or singer/songwriter to stand out and sell as song –it’s both.

A spontaneous sound with a performance which makes an emotional connection to the music reaches listeners.

My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Review Vid

Georgia Ku Overton – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Cover)

Georgia, you have a good voice, with an attractive and graceful appearance in performance. Your appropriately understated delivery of the verses uses a sensual approach to articulation that keeps us tuned in. Cope with its repetitive nature of the chorus by highlighting the contrasting lyrics (Mountain – high; valley – low…) within the phrases. Also, increase the intensity of each statement of the final phrase of the song (“To keep me … babe”) to build towards a strong conclusion. And, talking about the end, why don’t you sustain the mood you’ve created for your listeners by maintaining concentration for at least five seconds past your final utterance rather than relaxing your body and breaking the spell.

-Rachel Lebon

If you’re signed up to VoiceCouncil’s Peer-Review, you’ll be receiving unique coaching feedback from Rachel for the next 8 weeks. You can sign up now.

Rachel L. Lebon, Ph.D. has been a professional vocalist and studio singer in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Nashville and Miami. She was on the faculty at Belmont College and is currently at the University of Miami, has toured toured world-wide with “Tops in Blue” and on a State Department tour of the Soviet Union and Portugal. Rachel is the author of two published books and conducts lectures, symposia and adjudication worldwide on vocal pedagogy and voice disorders.