He had settled into a “sleepy and breathy” sound but Mike wanted to liven up his act…
The Singer: Mike, 32 years of age, singer songwriter, guitarist, hosting his own live blues nights
For you: Singers who want to find that bluesy edge
Case Summary: Mike had been singing blues songs for years but had settled into a habit of delivering what he described as a ‘sleepy and breathy sound’ and he wanted to liven up his act
A Copycat Voice
I noted that Mike had adopted a sound that didn’t seem to be totally natural – he was ‘crooning’ every word and lightly touching on the phrases in a falsetto voice; aside from the fact that this was an odd approach to a genre as visceral as the blues, it was quite unconvincing.
We talked about his love of blues and he also mentioned other country and jazz singers whom he admired; this was where I realised he was mimicking a very particular timbre as I was familiar with some of the names.
Mike was up for any approach going so we played some animal games; we howled like wolves, we snarled like dogs, hooted like owls, growled like cats and a whole plethora of sounds emerged; I added crying like a toddler and calling from across the mountain tops and Mike had a great time, especially when we then got down to brass tacks and added some of these sounds to his phrases in the blues style.
Once Mike really grasped that the same vocal cords as made the crooning sounds made the lions roar, he really addressed the issue.
It took Mike a little while to let go of his sleepy crooner’s voice but he eventually worked some far more “gutsy” sounds into his repertoire – and he’s now getting great feedback on his vocal sound.