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‘Weird Al’ on Vocal Influences

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic reveals his #1 early vocal influence. But what are the pros and cons of being deeply impacted by great singers? – Lisa Popeil asks.

We all have singers that influence us deeply. You’ll learn whose ‘Weird Al’s’ is in the clip below.

Mine include Judy Collins, Barbra Streisand, and Aretha Franklin. Today I want to reveal how to overcome the challenge of having a vocal influence.

From each great singer, I learned something unique and useful. From Judy, I learned how to create a soothing, dreamy sound; Barbra taught me how to grab the listener with my phrasing choices and how nasality, used carefully, can be a powerful color.

Listening to Aretha gave me my start in gospel-style ornamentation and how to create excitement with upward slides in chest voice.

The Other Side to Having an Influence

But we have to keep in mind that, though imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, in commercial music, you must sound unique and hide your vocal influences so they’re not obvious.

(That means trying to hide your inner Ann Wilson or Robert Plant!)

That’s why when I am training singers who want to be artists I attempt to discern what’s special about their voice, look, attitude, gifts and hone those specific elements.

One thing you can do to help you discover or reinforce your own unique vocal sense is to acknowledge that there may be one quality or vocal ability which sets you apart and makes you a memorable singer.

Then, totally “own” that sound or skill and take it to the bank!

-Lisa Popeil

The next clip from Lisa’s interview of ‘Weird Al’ will be released in two weeks exclusively on VoiceCouncil Magazine!

Lisa Popeil has given VoiceCouncil exclusive rights to release these excerpts from her full-length interview with “Weird Al” Yankovic as previews of her video interview series “Singers on Singing: A Legacy Project”.

Lisa Popeil, MFA in Voice, is a top LA voice coach, voice scientist and researcher, contributor to the ‘Oxford Handbook of Singing’, is a voting member of NARAS (Grammys®), creator of the Voiceworks® Method, the ‘Total Singer’ DVD and and has taught voice professionally for over 35 years. www.popeil.com