She’s performed with the Air Force, on cruise ships, on television, in opera and musical theatre.
Her books have been launch pads for serious singers across the world.
Rachel L. Lebon is Professor of Jazz Voice at the University of Miami—and VoiceCouncil’s Vocal Coach in Residence for the next 4 weeks.
We’ve given Rachel only one sentence to respond to each of the following questions.
Quickest way to hurt your voice.
In a crowd at a party or concert, really push your voice to be heard over the loud ambient noise… if you REALY want to trash your voice, include liquor or drugs in the mix!
Best way to a healthy voice.
Incorporate a morning regimen such as steam inhalations over a mug while humming, which helps lubricate the folds and prepare your voice for the day.
That’s great – but what about at night?
Use steam inhalations and yawn-sighs for overall relaxation before retiring at night.
Best coaching experience in the past year
Helping a doctoral student, who had experienced nodules, to regain her voice, enabling her to present courses and lectures at two prestigious conferences and continue teaching in middle schools.
An unforgettable vocal performance you witnessed.
Interestingly, a brief speaking engagement by Beverly Sills was memorable…
What made it so?
She was so non diva- like and direct, rather than lofty…which seems to actually be a quality possessed by many truly great artists.
Best advice you’ve heard on dealing with nerves
Do a number of full performance run-throughs, with no stoppage, so that when you are actually in performance, you have already paced yourself, feel secure and can enjoy the moment.
Best advice about tech you ever received?
One earphone behind the ears in the studio.
What should a vocalist know about tech beyond their mic?
The Vocal Chain Combination in Recording: Microphone- Pre-Amp- Compressor and Equalizer (optional) and how it impacts their sound.
Did you have a career setback that turned out not to be a setback?
When I lost one talent contest, which made me reassess my approach to performing under those conditions. Decided to return to competition, which led to my world tours.
So, what was the main thing you changed the next time you competed?
The next time I allowed myself to relax into the accompaniment’s sensual introduction; for me this emphasizes that the introduction is important and integral to the song and performance, not only when the singer starts singing.
Quote about singing that inspires you
“To expect somebody to accept my style, we have to be willing to respect their style”
Algerian Singer “Khaled, King of Rai”
Bad thing to say to your backing band
I don’t know what key I sing this song in.
Good thing to say to your backing band
Let’s have fun making music together.
Most important thing to know about singing in the studio
People like to work with those talented musicians who keep the working environment comfortable and fun, and the end result usually reflects that.
One way a singer can find their unique voice?
Sing songs that you love in a variety of styles, focusing on the lyrics; you should be able to sell songs a cappella with authenticity, conviction and confidence.
Is “X-factor” a bad word?
Individuals with the so-called “X-factor” are people who tend to be modest (it’s not all about them), and they seem to possess a wonder about what they are doing, which is transmitted to their listeners.
If an alien landed in front of you and asked you to define singing – what would you say?
I’d probably just start singing and then invite them join in, and I bet they would. If not, at least I’d die singing. If they did, we might ultimately wind up singing in our different styles together, or trade fours.
If you’re signed up to VoiceCouncil’s Peer-Review, you’ll be receiving unique coaching feedback from Rachel for the next 4 weeks. You can sign up here and now.
Rachel L. Lebon, Ph.D. has been a professional vocalist and studio singer and is currently a professor at the University of Miami. She toured worldwide with Tops in Blue and has toured the Soviet Union and Portugal. Rachel is an author and lectures worldwide on vocal pedagogy and voice disorders. www.miami.edu.
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