I found that often a quiet note was much more effective than a loud, powerful note -says renowned Irish singer Mary Black
For over a quarter-century, singer Mary Black has been a dominant presence in Irish music, both at home and abroad.
She has 11 platinum albums, has sung at the Royal Albert Hall and recorded a live track ‘Ring Them Bells’ with Joan Baez in the Bottom Line in New York.
Mary is gearing up for her ‘Last Call Tour’ and we asked her to reflect on singing for our VoiceCouncil audience.
What are a few ingredients that go into a memorable vocal performance?
Passion, energy, drama, joy
What is the most important lesson you have learned about vocal health?
I think the most important lesson is to be physically healthy and, as I got older, vocal exercises.
What is a vocal health lesson you learned the hard way?
I learned the hard way when I got a bad cold and my voice disappeared – I learned that doing vocal exercises helped strengthen it again.
What tips or tricks do you have to keep your voice in shape given busy recording schedules and performances?
Exercises, drinking throat coat tea and also using a steamer.
As you look back on your vocal work what would you say was an important landmark(s) in singing more effectively?
When I was younger my voice was purer but with time and experience I learned to communicate better with my audience. I think my technique improved as time went by from constant performances and I found that often a quiet note was much more effective than a loud powerful note.
Have you ever worked with a professional to help maintain your singing voice?
No, I have been doing it all myself!
What would you recommend for singers to try to improve different aspects of their singing?
More than anything exercise the vocal chords and listen to other singers.
Some singers have good vocal health and technique but really struggle to find their unique voice. What advice would you offer them?
Sing from the heart and your own voice will come out – don’t try sound like anyone else.
Name one influential singer, and what it was that makes them stand out to you.
Sandy Denny from Fairport Convention – her ability to sing softly while still having power to push when the emotion required it.
See Mary Black in Concert
Mary Black has been a dominant presence in Irish music, both at home and abroad. Mary has released 11 studio albums all of which achieved platinum sales status and spawned countless hits. She has shared stages, TV shows and recording studios with some of the most revered performers of her time. She has also played a front-line role in bringing Irish music, past and present, to an increasingly appreciative and ever-growing global audience. She has announced that the ‘The Last Call Tour’ will be her last ever UK tour. Mary is a contributor to The Ultimate Guide to Singing