EXCLUSIVE: MAMA JAN - JUDY RODMAN - MADALYN SKLAR - RICKEY D - HEIDI LUERRA -
MARCIE ALLEN - DARCY GREGOIRE - AFIYA FRANCISCO - MARISSA CLEMENCE
BASIC FOR ASPIRING SINGERS VOCAL TECHNIQUE TIPS HOW THE VOICE WORKS BEYONCE’ SECRET DIET
+ GINO VANNELLI
THE LOOK BOOK NZINGHA WINTER 2014 ISSUE
CELEBRITY MAKEUP ARTIST
SISQO JONNY LANG DIVINE BROWN MIA MARTINA ELISE TESTONE
FINDING THE RIGHT MICROPHONE
EDITOR L 18 WIRE
The Vocalist - Microphones Finding The Right Microphone
18 INSIDER RICKEY D - The Promoter
58 VOCALIST SPOTLIGHT Shirlee TEMPER Darren OCKERT
60 VOCAL CARE
CARISMA 5 BASIC COMPONENTS IN SINGING VOCAL TECHNIQUE
66 COACH CORNER
26 RISING STAR SHIRLEY LEVI 36 HEADLINER RIHANNA
MAMA JAN Vocals on Your Next Record JUDY RODMAN
VOCALIST IN RANGE
BJORK ARIANA GRANDE EMELI SANDE DEMI LOVATO
84 VOCAL HEALTH
Exercices for improving posture How the Voice work Diva Diet Beyonce’s Secret Diet
LETTER 94 VOCALIST BUSINESS
MADALYN SKLAR GoGirlsMusic.com - Founder HEIDI LUERRA: Founder of RAW MARCIE ALLEN: Being An Artist Is Not The Only Way Your Star Can Shine DARCY GREGOIRE” The Agency Group’s Booking Agent
116 VOCALIST INSTYLE
AFIYA FRANCISCO: The House That Style Built
126 THE LOOK BOOK
MARISSA CLEMENCE: Style File NZINGHA - INTERVIEW WITH CELEBRITY Make-up Artist
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS GINO VANNELLI SISQO DIVINE BROWN MIA MARTINA ELISE TESTONE JONNY LANG
156 THE WINTER VOCALIST
210 VOCALIST HOT SPOT
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CONTRIBUTORS: Jennifer Meade, Anna Kroupina, Nana Yeboah, Malik Shaheed, Diva Devodee, Albert Chambers, Marta Woodhull, Clint Peterson, Lindsay Feldmeth, Juliette Kellow BSc RD INTERNATIONAL COVER: Credit Photo Rihanna/DefJam, Universal. US COVER: Credit Photo Shirley Levi; Johnny Otto; Rafael Bekor CREDIT IMAGES: Rickey D (Rickey D0; Anna Kroupina (Anna Kroupina); Sisqo (Sisqo), Gino Vannelli (Gino Vannelli), Divine Brown (Divine Brown), Mia Martina (Mia Martina/CP Records), Beyonce (Beyonce), Mama Jan (Mama Jan), July Rodman (July Rodman), Heidi Luerra (Heidi Luerra), Madalyn Sklar (Madalyn Sklar), Marcie Allen (Marcie Allen), Jonny Lang (Jonny Lang), Darcy Gregoire (Darcy Gregoire), Elise Testone (Elise Testone), Marissa Clemence (Marissa Clemence), Afiya Francisco (Afiya Francisco), Nzingha (Nzingha), Shirlee Temper (Shirlee Temper), Doren Ockert (Doren Ockert)
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2014 is about Believing in yourself, embracing your life, and having the courage to learn to be still. We are kicking off the New year with two covers. The international cover feature Rihanna a young Lady from Barbados, one of the worlds top recording artist, and fashion Icon in 2013, selling over 30 million albums, 120 million singles worldwide, and winning over 20 music awards. SHE IS OUR HEADLINER.
my award winner AT THE YOUNG AGE 16, shares with us how he balances his career and family life. In this issue we feature Vocal coach Mama Jan, who has worked with Usher, Justin Beiber, Drake, and Kelly Hillson. She gave us some tips that all aspiring vocalists can learn from. Judy Rodman, who have developed a method of teaching called “power, path, and performance”, is a vocal coach who practices what she preaches. Madalyn Sklar founder of GoGirlsMusic. com, the largest online community of independent female musicians that seeks to “support, promote and empower” female musicians. Marcie Allen Caldwell the CEO of MAC Presents, know how a Brand can work with a vocalist. Darcy Gregoire talks about his career and how a vocalist can attract a booking agent. Heidi Luerra is the founder of RAW, an independent arts organization, for artists and by artist.
Our U.S Cover feature an incredible vocalist from L.A. Shirley Levi. “She writes, sings, and performs her own music in addition to owning her own record label, Re-Bel Visionary Music because, unlike so many artists waiting for their big break, Levi does not sit idly by waiting for opportunity.” - DIXIT Nana Yeboah. A young lady who came from Iran with a mission to follow her calling in music. As you will find out in reading her interview she is an inspiration. SHE IS OUR RISING STAR. In this issue we interview phenomenal and legendary vocalists. Starting with Gino Vannelli, a barrier breaker. He talks about his career, his thoughts on the changing music industry, and his first record deal with A&M records. Sisqo “aka The dragon”, the frontman of Dru Hill, has achieved longevity in his career that can only be credited to stamina, dedication and the usage of his voice. Divine Brown, a Canadian Soul Singer, shares with us what it takes to be on the top of your game as a female and soloist. Mia Martina a young vocalist with a lot of ambition understanding what it takes to be successful in this business. Elise Testone knows the importance of warming up the voice before a performance. Jonny Lang a Gram-
Celebrity stylist Afiya Francisco, Celebrity Make-up artist Nzingha and Make-up artist Marissa Clemence gives us a touch of style from a vocalist Look Book. As I reflect on the past year of all that we’ve accomplished. I am excited for what’s to come ahead, as we begin the new year our goal is to give opportunities to vocalists to express about their profession and what it takes for them to maintain and be at the top of their craft. 2014 is about Believing in yourself, embracing your life, and having the courage to learn to be still.”
Jennifer Meade 12
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INDIE IS THE NEW MAJOR
By ANNA KROUPINA As lead singer of the band The Crash Native Austin Taylor says of the music industry, “This industry - it’s a beauty, but it’s also a beast.” This statement rings just as true as it did a decade or two ago, but the digital age has changed the way the game is played and introduced a new player into the field: the unsigned artist. Not so long ago, if you were an unsigned artist trying to get your foot in the door of the music industry, you’d be declared naive, second-rate underdog. Today, new, easily accessible technology has made it possible for unsigned musicians to record, produce, market and distribute their music at a relatively low cost. Beyond question, you need infinitesimal grit, drive, and passion to find major success being unsigned, but artists have the tools and resources literally at their fingertips. Like anything worth your while, being prosperous will take hard work and a lot of persistence, but what artists will be left with is truly original product that is 100% them and 100% their own. I’m not at all implying that it is completely useless or detrimental to one’s career to sign with a traditional record label; on the contrary, there are significant perks to firm a deal with the Sonys and the Universals of today, but that’s all they are... perks. It’s undeniable that major record labels have deep pockets. They can offer their artists colossal marketing campaigns, massive advertising opportunities and widespread publicity and distribution. However, this comes at the cost of signing over all rights of your music. You are branded in a way that perhaps you’re not comfortable with. You might be pressured to lose your creative freedom. You might be forced to alter your look and sound to make it appeal and sell to a bigger audience. I always see traditional record labels as gatekeepers in a way. They filter the music industry, choosing to sign artists on a basis of profitability. They’re about money and numbers. Plain and simple. That’s not to say that musicians aren’t out to make money – they have bills to pay just like anyone else – but I like to think that their goals also expand to making music that means something to
them, leaving a sincere part of their soul both in the recording and the performance. The bottom line is that indie artists keep musical content new, fresh, and original. In order for an industry to keep growing, churning out cutting edge and fresh product, there needs to be competition, and nothing is more stifling to creativity than megacorporations that are focused on business, sales and profit. I prefer a music industry with many, small players as opposed to one comprised of just a handful of big fish pulling the strings. “Sometimes, it feels like the industry wants to push away new talent. That sounds a little bit negative to say, but I think it needs highlighting that the industry makes it so hard for new talent to push through now, and you kind of wonder why,” says Laura Jeanne, a singer/songwriter who knows all too well the “gatekeeping” approach of labels. The music industry should be about the public – you - deciding what music is worth hearing, not the corporate monopoly that dictate what music is “good” and what we should like. It begs to be noted, however, that business is a big part of the music industry. Publicists, music marketers and social strategists are all important players in the game, and easy access to these figures is a definite asset of being signed with a major record label. But then again, most major labels won’t give you the time of day until you’ve already amassed thousands of followers on social media websites, sold thousands of singles or albums and already have a strong brand presence online. At that point, why would you fork over a portion of your profits and control over your career to a record label? You already have enough exposure and power to assemble an amazing team of business experts that will answer to you. As stated at the beginning of this piece, in a time when money runs the word, there are advantages to signing with a major record label, but musicians shouldn’t forget that Labels. Are. Businesses. They don’t believe in your music; they believe in your profitability, and there are drawbacks to a music industry run by record labels.
Finding The Right Microphone
A Pocket Guide to Vocal Microphones By Marta Woodhull*
Classic Low to Mid-Budget Workhorse Microphones Beyerdynamic M88
I love this little sweetie. It is the first mic I purchased for myself and it outshines the Shure SM58 by a lightyear. Clean, bright, and crisp, with a beautiful high end and warm bottom, the M88 was made for the stage but is surprisingly refreshing for recording and very affordable for a home project demo studio. I have held it up against mics 5 times its price and recorded lovely keeper vocals. Research the Beyerdynamic line. They have a lot of great mics to choose from.
A popular professional solid state condenser mic, giving a bright sound, the “414” is often used for jingles and is good for male or female voices that need added sparkle. Although it is often a single mic owner’s first purchase- you’ll run into it in mid priced studio situations- I don’t recommend it for high, loud or bright voices, male or female. On treble voices it can sound very brittle, and it lacks warmth on top and in the low end. Personally I avoid singing on it altogether, and bring my own mics to studios that only offer this.
AKG 1000 This is a newer, mid priced mic, gaining in popularity for home studio use, and pushed by AKG as “the Swiss Army Knife for Musicians.” It is claimed to be excellent recording at a distance such as for vocal choirs and group instruments.
Sennheiser 421 Originally used for broadcast radio announcing, the 421 is a dynamic mic more often used on drums and bass in top studios. If it’s all you’ve got for a vocal, the 421 sounds best on male rock or blues vocalists with a full voice. For example, Billy Idol liked it. But it is not effective on female, lighter or younger voices.
* Marta Woodhull, is a top Hollywood Vocal Resource. She is a Grammy Nominated Vocal Arranger , (We Are the World, Best Recordings For Children, 1986) and the Author of “Singing For A Living” by Writer’s Digest Books. She trained at The Juilliard School Of Music, The Aspen Music Festival and The Royal Academy Of Dramatic Arts. Woodhull has a Bachelor of Music from Cornish College and a B.A. in History from The Evergreen State College.
The following list of Mics have been industry standards for decades, with some new favorites mixed in. Top Of The Line Mics
A great all around FET condenser, with good depth and color, great highs, mid range and tonal balance. I have one, and I love it for all applications; rock, pop, classical, R&B, male & female. With a custom tube conversion by Jeff McLane, I’ve got two mics in one.
A gorgeous tube condenser mic, in production for over 40 years. A clear, transparent high end, full, soft and round in the bass. I’ve loved it on classical vocals. Very expensive, very fragile, and very wonderful.
Neumann U47 The Grandfather of all recording mics used on such classic artists as Elvis, Roy Orbison, and the Beatles. A vintage condenser tube mic, with a warm, full bodied sound that is phenomenal on the top and bottom end. Very few studios outside of the top dollar joints are lucky enough to own one, but you can rent them! There are also later model, but still old, FET versions of the U47.
Oktava MK 219 Every now and again, we stumble upon solid technology from surprising places. Made in Russia, the OKTAVA is so industrial looking, it looks like it belongs on a submarine. Priced around $500 it sounds like it’s worth three times that, with a warm mid range and a fat sound for easy going voices. The Oktava Factory is state run and is the world’s third largest manufacturer of telephone handset mics. It has made up to 30,000 mic a month, due to a decree that required for every tape recorder sold in Russia, an OKTAVA microphone had to be sold with it. Somebody is looking out for up and coming singers! By the way, if you buy one, sing on a few in the store first. Each one sounds slightly different.
Rickey D is the Promoter who provides Montrealers with the best value for their entertainment dollars By Anna Kroupina
FROM THE BOTTOM
I’ve been doing this for about 25 years. I originally started off just doing parties and one of my best friends Fabian, who happened to live in my apartment building was a DJ. He was a kind of struggling DJ. He asked me to help him out hand out flyers for parties he was DJing at.
the first five to seven shows. The first one was legendary and we did it in Metropolis. These guys played for three hours straight. It was unbelievable. It was the first time I ever saw a hip hop group that was a band. It was nuts.
A ONE MAN SHOW
I became very successful at parties and eventually I started to build up my funds to the point that I was able to start to produce shows. I would either get in touch with management or the record label of the artist I was interested in. And then I would enquire about them coming to Canada and I would work out their rate.
I’ve had a few of memorable events, but one of them was doing this show at the Molson Centre that I produced with my partners exclusively in 1996. At that time, I produced the biggest Hip Hop show ever at the Molson, which was 12,000 people and the artists that I had were A Tribe Called Quest, Cypress Hill, and The Fugees. These were the three bands that I brought together with my partners back then.
THE BEST SHOW
One of my best live shows was The Roots, or whom I produced
fan of. I didn’t just produce them because of money. I produced them because I enjoyed their music and I believed in them, which at my stage of promotion means a lot.
It’s a very tough business. You have to be prepared to take risks and you have to be prepared to deliver on a product when the show is not selling well. You have to do all of that and if you’re not ready to do all of that, then I mean, this isn’t the business for you because you have to be very knowledgeable, experienced and you have to work hard. If you don’t work hard, it’s not going to work for you. The perks are that you get to meet all the artists and all the celebrities. You get to make money. Get smoked meat to the management. Get smoked meat to New York City via courier to give him a little taste of Montreal and enticed him to come down.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
I produced Eminem in 2000. I also produced Massive Attack, Morcheeba, Jamiroquai. I was doing a little of acid jazz, guys like MC Solaar. I’ve touched on everybody, including LL Cool J. I’ve produced close to maybe about 100 shows in my career. All the groups that I produced, I was a
I’ve had fun. It’s been very exciting and very thrilling, scary at times because sometimes you have a lot of money out there and you don’t want to fail. The guarantees and the prices of these artists have gone up substantially because of the poor response to CD sales, which have forced artists now to raise up their artist fee to perform. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same business.
HOW VOCALISTS CAN ATTRACT A PROMOTER
Make sure that they have a certain level of viability, that they’re a soulful act, and that they have a fan base of some sort. That can encourage the promoter. Promoters don’t mind giving opportunities to up and coming artists to get showcased on their shows as an opening act, but there has to be something behind it. If it’s not money, they have to be able to show numbers, that there is this amount of fans or that they sold so many records, or that they’re being played on the radio stations.
SOCIAL MEDIAS EFFECT
Before, back in the days, record labels controlled the information getting out there. Basically, it went like this: you had the record label who gave the record to the DJs or they gave it to the radio station. DJs played it, built an awareness through mixed tapes and nightclubs and parties. Then you had the radio stations who played it on the radio continuously to make people familiar and comfortable with the song. Now, because of the Internet, the record labels no longer have that power. Anybody who puts their music on the Internet has the possibility of being heard. The game has opened up now where artists like Mac Miller, sell that many records without a major label.
You’re starting to see it happen more and more. The labels are now realizing this and are actively going on the Internet and searching out these artists who are getting a lot of views and spins and everything else, and seeing what the buzz is on them and picking them up through there.
THE FUTURE OF RICKEY D EVENTS
Just to keep providing quality entertainment throughout Canada, making sure that we bring top notch acts that the people want to see, staying relevant and think on the cutting edge of R&B and Hip Hop music. **
Rickey D Events is a Montreal based production house, specializing in event planning, marketing and promotion. For more:
www.rickeydevents.com/ www.facebook.com/rickeydevents www.twitter.com/rickeydevents
Lewit microphone LCT 640 review By Albert Chambers* LEWITT’s LCT 640 excels in a variety of demanding studio applications and stands for unrivalled performance in micing lead and background vocals, drums, percussion etc. It offers a wide-cardioid and supercardioid characteristic. • It has a dynamic range of 135 dB and an extremely low self-noise of 10 dB. • In combination with a 4-level high-pass ﬁlter and 4-level switchable pre-attenuation. • It provides maximum versatility in all recording situations. • Automatic attenuation, key-lock, clipping history, push buttons and a light-up user
I recently had the pleasure of getting my hands on the LCT 640 large diaphragm microphone. To all my producer engineer friends! This mike will blow you away! It’s the L CT 640 by Lewitt audio. Haven’t heard of them? I felt there was something different about this mic. My vocal tracks never sounded this good! The bottom is like a pillow and the top is almost like a ribbon mic. I recorded a very dynamic singer the other day and it was unbelievable! The proximity affect was forgiving in keeping all the bottom end of her vocal intact, when she would back off the mic for the loud sections of the song. In addition to this, the L CT 640 could handle loud pressure up close sounds without peeking out the diaphragm. I could go on about all the L CT 640 special technical features that it possesses, but at the end of the day it’s all about the quality. It’s a must in any Producer Engineer arsenal of gear. *Albert Chambers is a Montreal based Producer-mixer/songwriter and has worked with the likes of David Usher, Melissa Auf De Maur, Simple Plan, and Corey Hart. - For More: http://basebinstudios.com
HIRLEY LEVI A
lso known as Miss Muzik, Shirley Levi, whose name in Hebrew translates into “Sing for me from the Heart”, is a proactive indie sensation who’s on the cusp of taking the world by storm with her effervescent, infectious music with soul. Her lyricism is incomparable with conscious tunes that will follow you long after you’ve finished listening. Shirley writes, sings, and performs her own music in addition to owning her own record label, Re-Bel Visionary Music because, unlike so many artists waiting for their big break, Levi does not sit idly by waiting for opportunity, she remains constant, focused, and active at her craft and is ready when her blessings come. As if being an artist was not enough, Miss Muzik is also a staunch activist for autism and raising awareness for this serious neurological disorder; she even wrote a song entitled Anne Marie from her last album Break Free, about a person she met with the disorder who ended up teaching Shirley more about herself. Levi’s breaking into the music industry on her own terms and armed with words of encouragement from award-winning artist/producer/writer Akon, she shows no signs of stopping. Shirley wants the industry to get back to basics when uncompromising talent was enough and she is not afraid to lead the way. By Nana O. Yeboah Credit Photos: Shirley Levi; Johnny Otto; Rafael Bekor 27
TVM: Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Shirley Levi. Shirley, how are you? Shirley Levi: I’m doing fantastic! Very excited and very honoured to be doing this interview, thank you for the opportunity. TVM: Before we get into your voice and your music, you’re so much more than a talented artist, you’re also an activist. You helped raise awareness for autism. Could you talk about your activism? Shirley Levi: Sure, my activism goes hand in hand with my music. All of my music, all of my songs, are songs of hope. Naturally, when I met the fist autistic person in my life, I just had this feeling that it was destined. While working with my friend, Anne Marie, who happened to be autistic, I started realizing that I needed to do something. I figured that I could do a lot of good because of the wonderful time that I spent with Anne Marie and all the valuable things she taught me; she changed my life. I just started devoting a lot of my time to autism awareness about a year ago. I was on social media, did interviews and I wrote this song, years ago, Anne Marie which is really in the spirit of autism. I’m not trying to reach out to others through pity; I really want people to begin to understand others with autism. Autism is definitely becoming well known because so many people are finally talking about it but I still think that the media has to devote more time to this cause. TVM: That’s amazing. How did it all begin with you? Was there a catalyst that sent you in the musical direction? Shirley Levi: For me it was like one of those things, I always wanted to do. It is something that has always been known because it is the strongest force inside of me. I meet a lot of people in their late 20s and they are all ‘yea, I just picked it (music) up’ and I have felt since all my life that music was my calling. At times I’ve felt that this is a nightmare because I’m dealing with an industry
that is just beyond unfair, I want to get out and I want to fight it but I feel as if I was born to do this. My mom is Israeli my father is Iranian, in Hebrew Shi- means sing and Lev means sing for me. My last name Levi, Lev- means heart, so my name literally means sing for me from the heart. TVM: Actually, concerning your diverse background, you speak several languages and infuse them into your music; do you find that your voice differs depending on the language you’re singing in? Shirley Levi: That’s a really interesting question. I have the Middle East in me, raised in the United States but you can’t get rid of your heritage. When I’m singing, you hear all of them in one and when I sing in Hebrew, I actually feel that it’s the strongest because I’m singing to the Lord; a lot of the time when I’m singing I open up my sets with a shema (a jewish prayer). When I sing in English, my primary language, you can feel all the different influences meshed into one. There’s a chameleon-likeness in my singing which has been a real struggle for me in some ways because the industry wants you to be one way all the time. TVM: How would you describe your voice? Shirley Levi: I have two aspects of my voice, when it comes to my singing voice I think that it’s really raw and filled with emotion and heartfelt dynamics. I’m really allowing my soul to emanate by refusing to couch my voice, especially what’s going on right now with auto tune or allowing the industry to stereotype my voice and making me follow in someone else’s footsteps. I could care less about what’s popular, I follow my spirit. You can hear various influences in my music... you can hear the Middle East, the Country, the Blues, the Rockabilly, the Punk, and the Mediterranean sounds. Actually, I’m calling my new sound Shirley Rawk because it’s real, raw, untamed, it allows for the vulnerabilities to come out of
the different cultures that I put together. TVM: That’s great....You have a really interesting background, I mean, not only do you write, produce, and perform your own music, you’re also the head of your own label, Re-Bel Visionary Music. Could you tell our readers a little bit more about that? Shirley Levi: Sure, well I developed Re-Bel Visionary as a vehicle to expose myself and other independent artists because it’s really a struggle nowadays when you have a dream and no one really gets it; it’s like an urgent feeling, it’s your calling. When everyone else is saying you have to change, it’s like, ‘no you don’t...you can sound like yourself’ I feel like that’s what’s missing in our music today. I was watching this incredible Joan Baez documentary about music of that time period (late 60s) and there were all these incredible female artists and everyone of them sounded different, everyone was allowed to be different. I feel as if producers, record labels make you feel as if you’re not good if you don’t sound exactly like someone else and they’ll turn you away. I just had enough, you know? I’m not going to sit around and wait for someone to understand me and give me a chance; I’m going to make my own opportunities and I’m going to be true to myself. In the beginning it was difficult; I’m not trained to know all of these different software and productions. It took me 2 years but I made myself learn how to mix an entire album, how to produce in a big studio, how to remix a record. I realized that I’m a label (laughs)...I hope that in the light of independence, I will be able to set my voice and my work free and be able to get myself into the commercial world so that I’m able to shed light on other indie artists and their music. I want to empower other artists and let them know that you don’t have to sellout and be true to themselves.
When it comes to my singing voice I think that it’s really raw and filled with emotion and heartfelt dynamics.
TVM: What moves you to write songs ...and is there a particular song that you feel most proud of? Shirley Levi: That’s a really good question. I have not written one song that I felt was not urgent; my music and my art work has been my channel away from struggle and torment. I’m very sensitive so when I’m feeling pain it’s urgent for me because I refuse to be destructive so the only thing that heals me and relieves my heart is if I take that darkness and put it into my music. So I’m having a really hard time thinking of any song that wasn’t written because of that....I think ultimately though, the song that radiates most in my heart is Anne Marie...I see myself in her. When I sing Anne Marie, I feel chills. TVM: Your voice has this haunting quality to it and earlier you had stated that you listen to a lot of male vocalists, who specifically influences you? Shirley Levi: Well I’d like to mention Lou Reed, who just passed away. I’m in love with him because he was poetic with vulnerable vocals and I think sometimes we forget how to do that in today’s music. I love Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Chrissie Hynde, Ray Charles; you can really feel their voices. There are so many wonderful artists. I’m attracted to dynamic qualities in vocals and these artists have them. TVM: Do you have a regular vocal routine and if so, could you take our readers through what you do to maintain your voice? Shirley Levi: I don’t like so much education when it comes to setting your soul free so the only thing that I do that I kind of see as a ritual and every time I go to sing, I pray. I also have a cup of tea with fresh ginger, cayenne, and a lot of honey and I mix it all together and it opens up my vocals and then I begin my set with a shema in a chanting manner so that my vocal chords really begin to open up. TVM: Is there a super food for you? And if so, what are the affects? Shirley Levi: I have to go with ginger and honey. A friend of mine told me a few years ago, ‘you know, Phil Collins always chews on piec-
es of ginger.’ I started researching ginger ; it’s really good for you and it opens you up like crazy. When I get nervous, a lot of times my vocal chords close up and I’m not really singing from the right place and there’s something about ginger, especially with honey because it coats your throat, that just opens you up and you are able to breathe and sing and it helps you to relax because you’re breathing better. TVM: For anyone who decides to taken in a Shirley Levi show, what would you want them to take away from your performance? Shirley Levi: That’s a good question. For me, my messages are very important to me and yes I love the music but what you said before about the activism; it’s almost like I just can’t separate the two and I feel that calling. It’s very important to me that people walk away believing in themselves, feeling empowered, and I want people to really feel my vocals, which is one of the reasons why, to me, this interview is really one of the most special things that have happened to me. I’ve done a lot of interviews but this is The Vocalist Magazine and so for me to be praised because of my voice is a huge honour. TVM: Oh, our pleasure. I’m getting a great vibe from you because you seem to be very animated and extremely out spoken, where did you get your confidence to perform on stage in front of fans and in front of the camera? Shirley Levi: I get nervous just like everyone else but I fight it because I love what I do. When I get out there and start to perform, I feel like I’m in front of the love of my life. I care so much about my craft that I can be a nervous wreck! Something comes over me when I’m on stage and it’s like it just goes away. TVM: What about leading up to the stage performances? For example, rehearsals are they regular thing or is it more or less just when you have a show coming up? Shirley Levi: No matter how I feel, I practice. A lot of times you may feel like nothing is happening but you can’t let yourself go. Don’t wait for someone to wake you up, don’t
wait for someone to get you prepared; you don’t know when it’s going to be your next opportunity. You have to be prepared at the moments when nothing is happening for you because when they come, you’re ready. I rehearse at least 3 to 4 times a week because I have to be ready for whatever comes my way. TVM: So it’s like you always have to be ready and on point because this is your life’s calling...interesting. What do you like about your voice? Shirley Levi: I like the fact that I hear vulnerabilities in my voice, I’m not afraid to express myself, I’m not afraid to admit through my own faults and pain. I think that conviction and emotion and the fact that I can go and do different ranges and weaving various genres in one makes me a chameleon. A lot of times people expect you to be just one way and I have been put down a lot in the beginning because of it. I look up to artists who are very unique; that when I close my eyes I can remember their voice and feel what they are singing about. I’m definitely not the most talented or beautiful but I can say that I’m unique and I hold on to that and realize that it’s a gift. My voice is free, untamed, and it’s aimed towards reaching your heart. TVM: Okay...so would you say that the things you like about your voice are the same things that differentiate you from other artists? Shirley Levi: Yes 100% and I wish other vocalists would do that because everybody’s different and everyone is so beautiful just the way they are and there’s nothing ugly about anyone’s voice; they only time you go wrong is when you take your soul away from who you are. The vibration that comes out of you is not going to be real; when you hear Janis Joplin sing, you’re hearing her voice and she’s expressing that raw emotion that I feel is missing nowadays. check those out, go to deerdana. com. Shameless self promotion (laughs)! Or if you’re in Los Ange-
My music and my art work has been my channel away from struggle and torment. I’m very sensitive...
TVM: In today’s competitive music industry what does it take to pursue singing as a career? What advice would you give? Shirley Levi: I would say that if you’re going into this industry, it is one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life; if you do not truly believe in yourself and if you are not willing to take the fight, you’re never going to get there because there’s so much competition. If you believe in yourself and are willing to do the work necessary you will make it...I can’t tell you when and I can’t tell you it will be easy but eventually you will get there. Some people get it right away but for those who have to struggle and fight for everything, remember that while you’re doing that, you’re developing and growing; these struggles shape you, make you a better artist and by the time you make it you’re going to feel like you’ve
earned it and you’re ready. Also, don’t wait for someone else to discover you. I mean, it’s fine, look for people but in the meantime discover yourself. Be your own best advocate and your own best representation because you are all you have in the beginning. TVM: Wow, important advice. Where will Miss Muzik be 5 years from now? Shirley Levi: Um, God Willing, I hope I will continue making amazing music that is still true to myself that I still find inspiring. I want my music to reach people and help the world. I hope that I’m touring and that I have my own tv show; I have an idea for a television show, I’m hoping that the music industry will start changing and that my fellow indie artists will reach the mainstream charts. TVM: Thanks so much Shirley Levi for sharing with our readers. Shirley Levi: Thanks for everything!
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Credit photo: Getty Images
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SPOTLIG SHIRLEE TEMPER THE QUEEN OF ROCK AND FLOW I drink a lot of tea and honey. Also, I try to warm up a little bit by practicing my vocals and gradually getting louder and louder. Once we go out touring, I will find someone to help me with my voice because I know that I can damage it without help. I love the audience; it’s like this intense moment you get to share with so many people and you get to make a memory. At the same time, I have learned that if you work with the right person in the recording studio, it can be magical. I want people to leave my concert feeling invigorated and powerful. My goal especially women, is to realize that it’s okay to be strong and speak their mind. Someone once told me that you can say anything to anyone it just matters on your choice of words. Often times, it seems that when women speak up they tend to be misunderstood; it’s hard being a female in general, especially if you want to rock. For recreational purposes, I want people to go to my shows and be like ‘I don’t know what just happened, but I gotta go again and bring my friends’.
I was born and raised in the bay area, I’ve been doing this for a while now and I got the opportunity to turn my little dream into the big dream. I’ve been coined The Queen of Rock and Flow and I think that came from people not really knowing the kind of music I was doing. I had a boyfriend, at the time, who was doing music while I was working on acting. They were putting a band together and they were all ‘you should try out’ I did, not thinking I would actually make it but I did. It just kept rolling from there from bands, to solo, to where I am right now. I kinda did it at first to try it out but then I found it therapeutic. My influences are kind of eclectic. AC/DC, Metalica, but then I also like old school Hip/Hop where it was fun. Like, LL Cool J. I was talking to someone the other day and they were like, ‘it’s punk/rap’ but we call it rock and flow because it is rock n roll with rap influences. It’s funny, when I’m asked what I do because I don’t really sing or rap...it’s kind of its own thing and can’t be pigeon held into one specific way of music.
I think now is the time to be different; I think being yourself is gonna be the edge. I think right now is the time for those artists who get rejected because they were misunderstood at first. Stick to your guns, be the best you that you can be, and you gotta show yourself; show everything, even the ugly parts of you. Style’s very important for an artist. I mean, when you meet people, first impressions are everything; a person can open their mouth and it’s awful but the first thing that attracts you is what they look like. I think it’s the same thing with artistry. It’s a little discriminatory but I think, it’s reality. Style sets you a part; it’s what’s going to make people look at you that wouldn’t have otherwise. Actually, I am currently working on a live music video and I am really excited about what it’s going to look like. We are using the video as a tool to gain more visibility. Hopefully in the future I will be touring and have the opportunity to collaborate with other artists. I would like to make a few more records and I’d like to do an acting spot...some CSI, a Disney movie, or play some crazy person with a knife... that’d be really cool. I would like to do an old school Run –DMC version of It’s Tricky with Kid Rock.
For More: www.shirleetemper.com
By Nana O Yeboah
INDIE POP THE DARREN OCKERT Way From a very young age I was always trying to write songs and the main thing that really got me into music was my parents buying me a synthesizer. I had seen my teacher bring one into a music class and I was just obsessed with it. I begged my parents to buy me this synthesizer which now, you can probably find on eBay because no one uses them anymore but that was kind of my introduction into writing and wanting to perform. My biggest influence was the production team Stock, Aitiken and Waterman; they really dominated the UK charts when I was growing up. It’s really a sound rather than a person; they produced a lot of artists like Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, Donna Summer, Dead or Alive, etc...kind of a very British/pop sound from the 80s and 90s. 2005 was my debut album and also the launch of Shark Meat Records. We actually had several artists on the label when we were based in New York and it was a lot of work. Being an independent artist and label is 10 times the work then if you were part of a major label because you are trying to get people to listen and respond to things. But it’s been worth it. We’ve been very persistent and we actually launched a new imprint for my second studio album called Poptastik Records which is the imprint that the second album was released on. I think one of the great things about it, is the control that you have over where things go, the people you’re dealing with, press, and that sort of thing. I’m a baritone, which, when I record sounds higher than a baritone...I have no idea why that is but to me, it’s always shocking to hear my own voice. I think it’s unique because, growing up in the UK and now living in the US, I have this mid-Atlantic accent right now so I say things certain ways that are very British but I also have influences in my tone from living in the US. I mean, to me, my voice always sounds surprising initially but when you’ve been recording for years, you know how it sounds on the recording so there isn’t that discrepancy between what you’re hearing in your head and what you’re hearing being played back to you anymore. I have a routine from way back when I was in college that I still use which I originally had on a tape recorder but I digitized and now have in my iTunes. I can just play it whenever I want and do that warm up which is 30 minutes long. I try to do that on a regular basis and if I’m going to the studio or doing any performances that’s my go to warm up.
My sound is heavily influenced by synth/pop and that may throw people off a little because there are some songs on the new album where I use a lot of acoustic instruments in addition to the synth and electro elements around them. My new album is also heavily vocal though it’s in that synth/ pop genre. The most important things is to know your craft. Know what your sound is; even if it means that before you put out music to the whole world you have to experiment and find out what really works for you and your voice. I want to have a couple more albums out, I want to be producing some other artists because I really like working with other people and collaborating on ideas. And of course, in 5 years time, I would love to win a Grammy.
For More: www.darrenockert.com
Learn, laugh & interact at www.vocalist.org.uk The dictionary describes Charisma as ‘A rare personal quality attributed to leaders who arouse fervent popular devotion and enthusiasm’. ‘Personal magnetism or charm’. ‘A personal attractiveness that enables you to influence others’. Charisma, Allure, Stage Presence, Charm, Positive Energy or X Factor is an indefinable ‘something’ that identifies a unique or captivating performer. You may not know what it is but you can tell whether a singer has it when you see it! Do I Have Charisma? Everyone has charisma to varying degrees, some people need to nurture and develop their talents and abilities whilst others are unable to tap into their potential unless the circumstances are right for their character. For instance, an individual who is normally considered quiet may ‘come alive’ on stage to produce an exquisite or exciting performance whereas another may sparkle in an office environment.
Can I Develop Charisma? There are certain qualities and skills that can be learnt or nurtured but charisma is more than just a set of techniques and requires personal magnetism or natural expressiveness from within the performer. First impressions count, how you look and carry yourself both onstage and off may be the first thing that the audience sees. Articulation and communication skills are important - if you cannot be understood then the audience will not relate to your music. Eye contact with members of the audience is essential - but trying to maintain this throughout a complete performance is unrealistic - especially when the artists are using a stage as looking down causes the head to drop and constricts the throat! (Tip: Look slightly above their heads and occasionally glance at individuals). Talk to the audience, introduce songs, allow your personality to come through even when using a script. Include movement, gestures and facial expressions to draw
the audiences attention to your performance. Observing & listening to others - let the audience feel how important they are to you. Take time to talk and listen to those who come to see your act off-stage as well as on-stage! Persuasiveness, understanding plus the ability to adapt and motivate others are skills that every good band leader, musician and singer should aim to aquire if they wish to work with others successfully. Losing yourself in the moment allows the audience a glimpse of the person within. Letting people see that you are enjoying yourself creates warmth and honesty in the performance. These skills are present in most people to varying degrees, it is not enough to learn them by rote, the individual should find time to search within themselves and work on developing positive qualities as part of their natural growth as an artist. The performer can never have too much ‘practice’ that doesn’t just mean doing the same things repeatedly, but also to explore, experiment and integrate new methods with natural abilities and techniques.
Singing Basics 62
5 Basic Components in Singing for Aspiring Singers By Clint Peterson
To pursue a singing career, aspiring singers should know and understand the 5 basic components in singing. These are pitch, rhythm, breathing, voice and diction. voice and diction. 1.
Pitch relates to the notes and sounds of a person when singing. How the pitch is emitted determines if the song (or the singer) sounds excellent or not. So it’s essential that you study the pitch of every song you choose very well. You have to hit the pitch of a song as accurate as possible and sing in tune, as expected from any singer, whether professional or amateur. To achieve this, singers have to undergo trainings under a singing coach, to recognize intervals and pitches, to be able to correct offkey notes, and to be able to vocalize different notes. In other cases, you can train all by yourself by recording how you sing and playing it over and over again to point out your mistakes.
Rhythm is pretty much the beat or groove of a song, which you have to keep up with all throughout the duration of the song. If you’re constantly trying to catch up with the beat of a song, it is an indication of bad singing. To be able to have a fantastic sense of rhythm, again you have to learn some singing basics, such as how to recognize diverse beat durations, to vocalize your notes with various beats, and to be able to hold onto the basic tempo of a song.
Breath or breathing is included in singing lessons most singing teachers would introduce to their students. Breathing is innate in us, but which becomes quite difficult to achieve for some singers because of body tensions. You have to familiarize yourself with breathing properly for a lot of reasons. For one, proper breathing creates better sound, and second, it relaxes the voice as well. So the solution to breathing problems is to learn the tricks in breathing correctly, especially when singing. Subsequently, the aspiring singer should get orientation as well of the importance of proper breathing to truly appreciate it. Take all these things together and the singer is surely on the right track. Voice shouldn’t be taken for granted. After all, the first thing that your audience notices is the quality of your voice. This is like the defining line for most singers on how they will be judged. What you can do is to strengthen your vocal apparatus through singing exercises. These vocal exercises can boost the quality of your voice and help create wonderful sounds when singing. So voice will have to be one of the important singing basics amateur singers should master.
5. Diction refers to how you form the sound of the words or pronounce the words in your song. If you have a good diction, your listeners can easily grasp the lyrics and understand the message of the song. You should also be able to connect with your audience through the song. A good diction produces a clear and smooth sound of the words. Such is why having a great singing voice is not enough to please your audience. Being one of the basic components in singing, a good diction can be acquired in several ways, such as constant practice reading and studying the correct pronunciation of vowels and consonants. If you want to become a singer, voice alone won’t take you to a successful singing career. It takes that and more. But begin by understanding these basic components in singing and mastering it by heart.
The secret to singing correctly – it’s all in your breath 64
Vocal Technique Tips Breathing correctly when you sing is not rocket science. In fact, it’s a very natural function of our bodies. You’re really not literally changing the way you breathe, but rather how you breathe. Proper breath support (along with posture) is essential to your singing success for a variety of reasons, mainly to protect your vocal cords, get more power, impact your tone and enable you to hold out those long notes! First things, first.
Proper breath support comes from your abdomen, not your chest.Most untrained vocalists breathe from their chest. This region does not provide the strength needed to sustain long periods of singing. It places undue stress on your neck and jaw muscles and causes vocal strain. To get that power and depth to shape your tone, your breath needs to come from your abdomen region, or what is often called “the diaphragm.” Singing from this region takes focus, mainly because when we breathe, it is an unconscious effort. We don’t think about how we breathe, we just do it. Quit singing with your shoulders! So how do you know if you are breathing incorrectly? Go to a mirror and start singing something you know. Take notice of your shoulders after every breath. Do they rise? Also, take note of your face, jaw and neck muscles. Is there tension? If so, your breath is being supported from your upper region. Another is your tone. Singers who lack breath support have a thinner tone, often sounding nasally and bright. You may have heard the term “singing out of your nose.” This is a result. There is no fullness or depth in their tone.
How do I fix it?
Ok, so now you want to know how to fix it, right? No problem. It’s all about focusing on the way you breathe. Remember to take the focus away from your chest. Make sure that your upper body is relaxed. Your breath is going to come from your lower region – from the diaphragm and your abdomen. When you take a deep breath, here is how you should proceed: Your chest should be held high, but is motionless. Your shoulders are stationary. They should not move! You will notice that your diaphragm flattens, and extends outward. As a result, your abdomen expands (you will see it push forward) Your lower rib cage will extend outward I can’t emphasize enough about focusing your breath away from your upper region and into your abdomen area, or lower section of your torso. If you merely keep your upper body relaxed, focusing especially on not moving your shoulders or using your upper chest muscles, it’s going to be an automatic process. Breath control: the missing link Now that you have a better understanding of how to breathe, you also have to be able to con-
trol your breath. If you don’t get enough air, your notes may drop in pitch and you may not be able to finish your phrases. Too much air will cause you to sound weak with a breathy tone. The key is to get the right amount of air to help support your tone and sustain your vocal line. Of course, this will all vary depending on the song you are singing. Don’t use up all your air at once. Sustain your air over the vocal phrase so you will always have it. Letting it out all at once will cause you to start singing with your throat (which you don’t want) or create unnecessary vocal breaks in a song due to having to get more breath. To avoid this, practice on sustaining your breath slowly over a simple “Ah” chromatic scale, in a comfortable range. This will help you to conserve your breath over a phrase. When you take your breath, tighten your abdominal muscles as you slowly let the breath out over the course of your scale. Though this takes some getting used to, you will begin to understand how to control your breath to help fully support and shape your voice resulting in a rich and full tone.
nitially a psychology major who uses her various musical talents to make a difference, Jan Smith, affectionately also known as Mama Jan, is an ac-
complished, singer, songwriter, vocal coach, vocal producer and Grammy nominated music producer who founded Jan Smith Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. Her resume includes some of the biggest names in today’s music industry; Usher, Justin Bieber, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, Sean Garrett, Drake, The Band Perry, Keri Hilson, Ciara, Monica, and the list goes on. It is more than apparent that this lady knows exactly what she is doing but more importantly, she is passionate about her career and the career of those she works with. She does not take lightly the relationship between an artist and their vocal coach, because Mama Jan has experience with being an artist, she has 6 albums and 2 EP’s over her decades long career. Smith uses her experience as an artist as a tool in which to teach others and help them have phenomenal careers. The vocal cord is far too often ignored and Jan does her best to alter that perception and educate the masses about this misunderstood instrument. A well-spoken, straight to the point, and humble individual, Mama Jan took some time spoke to TVM about her life’s work and gave us some tips that all the future Biebers out there can learn from.
By Nana O. Yeboah - Credit Photos: Mama Jan
MAMA JAN 67
TVM: I have the pleasure of speaking with multitalented, awardwinning vocal coach Jan Smith, who is also, lovingly called Mama Jan. How are you doing Mama Jan? Mama Jan: I’m doing great Nana, how are you? TVM: Well thanks for asking. A lot of people seem to forget that you’re actually an accomplished artist in your own right and released an album when you were just 15. Can you tell our readers about your journey? Mama Jan: I cut that first album when I was 15 years old and played in rock ‘n’ roll bands, performed, and did s o m e m i l d touring throughout my teens, twenties, thirties, and into forties; so performing is somet h i n g that I do now w h e n I want to and w h e n there is a reason to help a cause or benefit someone else. But I still enjoy it because the stage was really my first love and the studio is kind of tied in there for first or second place. Growing up, recording music really gave me the vernacular to be able to relate to other musicians and understanding life on the road and in the studio provides me a unique abil-
ity to communicate with the artists I work with. I do believe that it is part of what has honed my skills as a vocal coach and as an artist developer to really understand the endeavour and the passion that drives artists as well as the pitfalls or some of the problems that they have. Having lived the life myself, allows me to really work with them hand in hand in a way that, perhaps, other vocal coaches just might not understand. TVM: What was the catalyst for you to take this particular path towards vocal coaching? Mama Jan: I never really decided that myself, I would have to say
artists at the time, and nobody else was catering to their needs as well as the needs of urban artists and it just grew into something I never really planned on. 26 years later, I see the largest roaster of charting artists of any vocal coach in America. God used the talents that he had honed in me to be able to help others somewhat, to my chagrin. I didn’t really think that I wouldn’t be pursuing an artist’s career at this point but it’s really okay with me now. TVM: So, essentially, it’s like God works through you? Mama Jan: Well, God works in mysterious ways. I mean, honing
that it was truly God’s plan for my life. I’m not sure that I had awareness as such; I was just taking the opportunity to be able to do something that was more music related versus working in psychology. It allowed me more freedom with my own music endeavours so I was just really helping other rock
skills in me all my life that I didn’t recognize were going to be a skill set used to help others but it’s quite an honour and a privilege to understand on a grand scale that the impact and the influence is so vast at this point that I am very humbled by it.
“It matters what you eat, drink, whether or not you smoke and do drugs, etc...” 68
TVM: You have various specialties including vocal endurance and maintenance, what are some of the key tips for vocal health and stamina? Mama Jan: The first thing is helping people understand taking care of their bodies because your body is your instrument. Your general health and well being matters a lot to the endurance of what your voice is going to be able to put out and I think a lot of singers recognize that. It matters what you eat, drink, whether or not you smoke and do drugs, etc. It has a great bearing on the longevity of the instrument itself and physiol-
of their bodies but a lot of artists don’t realize that they need to do the same thing. TVM: What are your thoughts on vocal routines? Mama Jan: Well I think there are various ways and methods people can use to warm up their voice. I have graduated levels that I work with people on; a beginner won’t be put at the same pace as a person who is more experienced. It’s about assessing where people are at and their progression and helping them to develop a formula of exercises to warm up with that aren’t going to hurt them and give them the opportunity to grow into
no such thing as a raspy voice so if someone is having those kinds of issues we listen out for that to see if there is any inflammation of the vocal cords. You should also pay attention to clearing your throat a lot, not being able to hit notes that you once could hit and/or you have to push really hard to hit notes or to get the voice to sound in certain areas of your range. TVM: Some say that a lot of vocal health depends on whether or not an individual speaks properly, what are your thoughts on that? Mama Jan: Well, you’re using the same vocal cords to speak and sing with. A lot of people who have difficulties with their speaking
ogy is extremely predictable so if people are abusive to their bodies and not respectful of their diets then there are obvious results from that. Helping people to really understand that cleans up a lot of the problems and then we can work with the physiology to make it stronger and better to be able to do more. Also, people exercise because they are trying to take care
the strength building that they want to have. TVM: How does an artist know they are damaging their voice? What are there any warning signs to look out for? Mama Jan: I think anytime someone is hoarse, if they’re losing their voice, if anything is hurting them; a lot of times people like to have a raspy/smoky sound but there’s
voices, it will spill over into their singing voices too. So flemmation and articulation are very important and knowing about that helps a lot in my job because we see a lot of people with vocal issues that are created from speaking or doing things incorrectly just in their speaking voice. I would say that it’s very important.
TVM: You seem to have quite the relationship with the artists you work with, how important do you think that is to maintain throughout an artist’s career in terms of the relationship being constant. Mama Jan: I think that people go through different phases of what they’re doing and the necessity to utilize my skill set comes and goes depending on what they’re doing and where they are in their careers. For example, I’ve worked with Usher since his late teens and he and I, like Rob Thomas, are old friends at this point. They call on me if they run into a jam or get in trouble neither one of them, as singers need me on a constant basis as they did when they were both either in trouble or starting out. But they still rely on my expertise to troubleshoot for them and to help them at the level that they are at now knowing that I am able to accommodate that. They may not need me in the constant fashion of, say, Justin Bieber did when he was touring and having some problems with his voice because of puberty but, you know, Usher will still come by with his computer and all of his new tunes and we’ll sit down and go through things; Rob Thomas will be on the road and he’ll text me that he has a sore throat and he’ll wonder about my suggestion or if they are coming thru Atlanta and they are doing a special show or radio appearance and need my support, they call. I’ll go and do what I need to do for them; it’s just a different level of training at that point. TVM: What are the most common mistakes you see artists make that lead to vocal cord injury? Mama Jan: I think the idea that the show must go on is dangerous because although any performer adopts that credo, I think that pushing through sometimes damages voices. It’s like, if a football player tore a ligament, they would be benched for, perhaps, the entire season and never walk back out on that field for the sake of saving their leg but singers will go into the game and on to the field, so to speak, with a vocal cord that might
be pulled or torn or inflamed and otherwise hurting and they’ll push through the performance and they shouldn’t....that’s a big problem. Also people who smoke, drink, and do drugs, it’s really hard on the body but, you know, smoking in particular, is difficult on the vocal cords because your vocal cords are housed over your windpipe so everything that you breathe passes directly through them. My people who smoke dope, cigarettes, and who do inhalant drugs like cocaine, speed, and suck stuff up their nose, they’re taking really hard hits on their physiology. TVM: Do you feel that there are any misconceptions about the voice? Mama Jan: Probably about 90% of the people who come in for vocal evaluations and consultations don’t even know how many vocal cords they have, where they’re located, what they are made out of, and they don’t understand how they function. Yet, they want to hinge their career and everything that they dream of on two little strips of fiber that sit on their neck and they don’t know anything about them. I think that’s the biggest problem; people are ignorant of process and information/knowledge is power and the application of that is what makes people more successful. My mission is to help educate people so that they can be smarter and gain more prevision and success off of what they’re trying to do. I also think that there is a lot of ignorance in our industry; there are a lot of people who produce great records but don’t know anything about singing. They put singers in the booth and they beat the crap out of them by trying to get them to stand there and sing for 6 hours and it’s just total stupidity. TVM: Could you take our readers through your process? What is an initial lesson with you like? Mama Jan: All of my staff are former clients of mine; they have all been trained by me so that they have my methodology. We do an evaluation the first time we see anybody because there is no way to work with someone until we can
assess where they are, who they are, how they are taking care of themselves, what problems they have, and what they want to do with their voices; basically getting information. The other part of it is working with them to assess whether they can hear notes; are there any hearing difficulties, pitch dynamics, kind of get a blueprint of where there voice is. From that information we sit down and tell them what we’re hearing and try to give them a plan of how we would work with them going forward. TVM: Interesting, so you go through a background process before you even get to them singing? Mama Jan: Yeah, absolutely. A lot of times I get called to a situation to help someone in the studio; to pull somebody out of trouble. In those situations I don’t have time to do evaluations, I just go in and quickly assess what’s up and make some type of intervention to help save a performance or a situation. But on an average basis we do an evaluation because there’s really no way for us to work with anybody if we don’t know anything about them or how they’ve been using their voices to begin with. TVM: Performing in the studio versus performing outside of the studio, what kind of tips do you give to artists? Mama Jan: I think that the studio is a very different animal from live performing, that’s the first thing I would say. It’s kind of an acquired skill, the more time somebody has in the studio the more they understand the microphone techniques and that it’s very different from a live setting. It’s really about the experience of it and as a producer and a vocal producer being able to work with artists and walk them through that process so they become more aware of how to use their voices in the studio to capture great performances is a fun thing that I do but also it’s very important to help artists understand how to do it because some just walk into the studio for the first time and they’re totally inexperienced.
“I think the idea that the show must go on is dangerous because although any performer adopts that credo, I think that pushing through sometimes damages voices....” TVM: For touring artists on the road, what daily routines do you recommend for their vocal health? Mama Jan: I think that exercise and diet are essential. I mean, it’s not rocket science but it’s stuff that people in our industry fall extremely short of being able to do adequately. TVM: What daily activities help build vocal skills? Mama Jan: I usually have people do a lot of cardio because, what people don’t realize, is that air is what generates that vibration of the vocal cords and having better control of your heart and your lungs matters a lot to good singers. Doing vocal exercises and a good workout helps condition their voice the same way they condition their bodies. TVM: One of your specializations is vocal technique and stylizing, what do you mean by stylizing? Mama Jan: Well I think that if you
play a record or turn on the radio and listen to different songs you hear a vocal thumbprint. Usher, very clearly, sounds like Usher, Beyoncé sounds like Beyoncé, Bonnie Raitt sounds like Bonnie Raitt, etc. Artists have things that they do that even if they sing the same song, the way that they do it makes them uniquely distinct and we want to help people find their vocal thumbprints and to really take the colour in their voice and flush that out so that people hear are able to hear the distinction. TVM: What other things does Mama Jan have in the works? I’ve read that you authored a few books. What should we look out for? Mama Jan: We have some workshops that we’re working on so that I can reach more people in the time that I have, also I have a line of vocal products that we’ve been developing for basic vocal care, and
I’ve got an exercise CD that people can purchase off of the website. TVM: How can our readers get in contact with you? Mama Jan: Well, it’s not easy for them to contact me because, at this point, if I talked to everybody who wanted to talk to me I would never get any work done. But, they can use the studio website, Twitter, or Facebook. Actually, if we’re in the area doing offering vocal workshops and things like that, they can contact us at the studio if they are really serious and interested in coming in to get some consultations. We have a bit of a waiting list right now but we are happy to put people on it and service them when we can. TVM: Sounds good. Thanks so much for your time Mama Jan. Mama Jan: My pleasure, thank you. Make.
JUDY RODMAN Power, Path, and Performance 72
udy Rodman is an accomplished singer-songwriter, producer, multitalented instrumentalist and vocal coach to those who want to learn how to use their vocal cords with precision. A woman who practices what she preaches. After a devastating bout that left her vocal cords damaged, Judy worked hard and managed to get her voice back and even won an Academy of Country Music Award. Never deterred by the ebbs and flows of the unpredictable music industry, Judy began to extend her talents by imparting the wisdom she learn over the years and developed a method of teaching called “power, path, and performance” based on the corner stones of breath, the voice path through an open throat and performance which is the physical and psychological aspects of communication. Rodman’s method, at its core, helps people maximize their voices and heal from strain. After speaking with her, I was left with the impression of a well versed woman in all aspects of protecting, maintaining, and maximizing the voice and it’s potential. Judy seamlessly weaves in and out after question regarding the voice without having to take a moment to collect her thoughts; this woman is constantly learning, growing, and finding new ways to keep your voice in great shape by trying things herself through performing with her band; Judy Rodman and 6 Play. Rodman is a renaissance woman who has experienced and applies what she learns to her teaching methods and it’s time for you to take notice and pay attention.
By Nana O. Yeboah Credit Photos: Judy Rodman 73
“A really big warning sign is when you lose your upper and lower range; when you notice you can’t sing in head voice...” TVM: Today I have the distinct pleasure of speaking with world renowned vocal coach Judy Rodman, how are you doing today Judy? Judy: I’m great, thank-you very much glad to be with you today. TVM: Glad to have you. Could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your background? Judy: I’ve been singing professionally for over 40 years...which kind of tells you my age (laughs), I started when I was 17, doing jingles which is where my professional career really began. Then I got into a cover band in Memphis, Tennessee, and we did all kinds of top 40 stuff so I got to dissect a lot of songs which was really a good learning curve for me plus the jingle mill which taught me how to sing with extreme precision. It was during this time where I really had to learn how to protect my voice because I was singing all day for the jingles and then singing at night until early morning at gigs with my band. Then I got sick when my son was born and I was in the hospital for months, intensive care, on a ventilator for some time and the inner tracheal tube caused damage to my vocal chords and they thought it was permanent scar tissue. It took years but I was able to get all of my voice back and more with teaching myself how to sing with my head voice again and getting a professional voice coach; so I know the value of really good vocal coaching. I had a great artist career but then overnight it just disappeared. The music business was changing so fast and my record label went under and I was left with just song writing. In song writing I also became a producer; creating my own demos and I learned a lot that way
because it really helped for things that came later. I was song writing for a while and then when things stopped going so well; I wondered what next? A friend of mine had actually asked me a while back, how you hit a high note and I was like, ‘how would I know?’ I had been directing people in the studio for a long time and I used to call her for sessions so she was familiar with my talent in that arena and so she’s the reason I began teaching. So I started teaching and little by little I found out what works, why things work the way that they do professionally and for other voices besides mine. TVM: What are some of your musical influences? Judy: My influences began with my father singing old time country music around my kitchen table. He taught us how to play the guitar and then my grandparents did a lot of gospel music in the rural part of Mississippi. That’s where I began and then, because we moved around, I got influences from everywhere. From Calypso in Miami, to R & B in Memphis, and Classical music that I learned how to play as a violinist in college and I learned to love great music in any genre that I carry to this day. My big loves are James Taylor, The Rolling Stones, great songs from The Beatles, Andrea Bocelli, Sara Bareilles, Faith Hill, Matt Kearney, Justin Timberlake, Gladys Knight, Seal, Brian McKnight, Take 6, oh my gosh I could go on! I just love singers and I love music. TVM: That’s great! I mean you are a representative and it’s nice that you enjoy so many different genres of music. As an artist yourself, what is your overall vocal routine?
Judy: My personal warm up is pretty much what I teach my students. I usually do lip and tongue trills, scales but always pulling and starting in an easy range and building from there. I do staccato exercises, breath exercises to get the breath off of my vocal cords, jaw exercises to loosen up my articulation, etc. TVM: What are some key tips you could give to maintaining vocal health and stamina? Judy: Everybody has different routines but there are some things that are true for everybody. One important tip is sleep; you have to get some rest. Another things that’s important is hydration; vocal cords just do not work without being hydrated and you need to start early with it. Be sure to warm up and warm down after a particularly long gig. Don’t eat anything that causes mucus build up; you know, eat clean, lots of protein, etc. You need to have great energy for singing which will come from that low centre of power and that requires all the things suggested before. TVM: How does an artist know that they’re damaging their voice? What are some warning signs? Judy: A really big warning sign is when you lose your upper and lower range; when you notice you can’t sing in head voice at all or as high as you normally can or in falsetto that’s the first danger sign. The second reason is that you cannot sing breathy; which means your voice is not closing properly and that could be because your edges are irritated or it might be because there’s a little bump there caused by a node of a polyp. Also, if you can’t execute your vocal licks with ease, then something is messing with the free movement of your vocal cords.
TVM: Really? Interesting, how important are vocal lessons and ongoing vocal training to an artist’s career? Judy: I think that if you would ask a pro athlete how important it is to stick with a coach. To become a professional singer, if you don’t have a vocal coach that you can at least touch base with occasionally you’re crazy. Things tend to creep up on you; maybe on tour you’re tired and had a long night and it doesn’t go so well so you start pushing your voice harder and then it continues night after night. Everything just starts to be a vicious cycle the wrong way so you need to touch base with a vocal coach; maybe schedule a Skype lesson so you can get that cycle going back the right way. TVM: A lot of artists, I have found, don’t always do a regular vocal warm-up, is it important for vocalists to warm-up and why? Judy: That’s a very good question. If you don’t know how to warmup you could actually do the opposite and tighten up your voice. If you don’t know how to do them properly instead lightly warm your voice with an easy song like a light jazz song, or Somewhere Over The Rainbow something that’s a lilting and bell-like. If you know how to properly warm-up then you should do it before every professional engagement. In terms of how long, if you’re touring or singing regularly then you would only need to warmup for 5 or 10 minutes, if you’re touring and singing sporadically then you would need to warm-up more like 15 or 20 minutes. If you have any vocal swelling; it’s puffy or it’s early in the morning and you have to do The Today Show, you have to warm up longer or if you’re getting over a cold it might be more like a 45 minute warm up. But, I would not warm-up that long on a regular basis because you don’t want to tire your voice out before you start; it’s just according to the condition of your voice. TVM: That’s really interesting, I did not know that it’s best not to warm up if you are not able to do it right.
Judy: Absolutely, I can’t tell you how many people have actually stressed their voice out with warm-ups they didn’t know how to do properly. Another biggie is the talking; if you don’t know how to pull your speaking voice and talk from above your throat than talking will be the most vocal abuse that you can do. The way you can tell that is if your voice feels fatigue at the end of a long day of talking; it shouldn’t. TVM: Wow, that’s crazy that even in speech there’s a right and wrong way to do that. What are some common mistakes that lead to vocal cord injury? Judy: Some common mistakes are moving your head forward; like playing a guitar or piano that you lean over and you actually send out your throat channel and you let your rib cage collapse a little bit which gives you your diaphragm too much slack and you lose control of that and your breath. The only way to control your diaphragm is to widen your rib cage so when your head goes forward, everything goes wrong. If you do lean forward for your performances, you need to do that in a way that you’re leaning from the hips rather than the middle of your torso and your rib cage stays open. I always say, balance your head on your tail bone and then you’re opening your throat and your rib cage more which is a healthy way to send sound through. Another mistake is singing without your eyes or not knowing who you’re singing to. Most of the time if I ask who you’re supposed to be singing to, the number 1 response is, to the audience. Then I say, if you’re Taylor Swift and you’re singing Mean is that to the audience? And
then they get it. You really have to have an acting mentality to get the response that you want with the tone of voice that you’re using and you’ll find that you’re going to be using your eyes and when you do that, the ceiling of your voice opens up. People sing sometimes with no eyes and that’s really dangerous for the voice and you sound like a poker faced numb person. Use your face like you are conveying the heart of the lyrics and you will find that your voice not only feels better that it also communicates better. TVM: Right. What are some common misconceptions about the voice? Judy: One way, is vocal fry; it’s an epidemic in 20 somethings and teens because it’s kind of cool (growling). Vocally, it’s the first things I bust my students on. Now, if you’re just doing it for affect (does an example...think Brick House by the Commodores) that’s different but if you do it when you speak what you’re doing is pulling your breath support before you’re through speaking. That’s a huge misconception, thinking you don’t have to support your speaking voice all the way out.
“You should not be vocally strained after a long concert...”
The other thing is that you don’t have to use your face. Your face matters to how open your throat is and matters to what tone is going to come out of your face (laughs). Another misconception is that your voice has to hurt; it doesn’t. What I tell people is that you should not be vocally strained after a long concert. TVM: Cardio exercises have been known to be great for breath control, what other exercises help build vocal skills? Judy: Daily exercises that I actually do myself are any kind of core exercises. Sit-ups, push-ups, and some weights to exercise lats that open the rib cage; it’s really important that the back muscles are toned but what you want to avoid is too much weight because then you over strain your shoulders which creates bulkiness and a tightness around your throat. You also want to avoid grunting when you lift weight because that closes your throat. TVM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Judy: You sound like my business manager (laughs). You know, I think it’s important for us to all be in the present but also for us to be visionaries about the future. If we’re not moving towards something then
we’re not moving at all. In 5 years, I would love to be doing more performances with my band; I don’t want to perform all the time because my first job is vocal training and producing vocals but for a long time I stopped singing my own songs and I think a lot of teachers have done the same but I think it’s good for our spirits and it keeps us remembering what really works in the practical work of on stage performance. I also want to conduct more vocal seminars. TVM: You think goals are important for all of us. Earlier, you demonstrated the vast nature of the genres of music you enjoy, could you choose one song or genre that you start your students off with? Judy: I never do that. The first thing I have my students do is sing an easy song that they want to sing and then for them to choose a difficult song that they can’t quite do; in order to see what happens when they have to go for something. I don’t want to stamp who I am on my students, I want to know who they are and I want to enable them to do that as easily and as well as they can and then I go from there. Now, I do use a song as a vocal velum or warm down, especially after a strenuous lesson and that’s Somewhere Over The Rainbow and I have them sing it in sort of a jazzy kind of way; sort of how a Jane Monheit or an Eva Cassidy would do and that sort of relaxes their cords.
TVM: Speaking of relaxation, what are some other things artists can do to protect their voice,? Judy: Something that I find extremely helpful, that you can find anywhere is to have some diluted pineapple juice; 20 % pineapple juice and the rest water. The pineapple has an enzyme in it that makes the throat tissues feel really hydrated. I also use H20 Overdrive and it can be found on www. h20overdrive.com, it’s a particularly hydrating drink that professional athletes use. I find it extremely helpful for my voice; I don’t perform without it and I know there are other hydrating drinks but those are just a couple things you can do to protect your voice. And make sure you eat something with proper nutrition before you sing because if you don’t you tend to use the smaller muscles around the neck, throat, and shoulders rather than the big muscles that take more glucose and oxygen. The big muscles protect the little muscles from strain. Some people also use cayenne pepper because it’s a good mucus membrane healer and which is definitely good to have with you. There are a lot of great things that can be done on your own, like taking a hot bath and breathing in all the steam; it really hydrates your tissues and I find that doing that before a performance is also, extremely important. TVM: Thank you so much for educating our readers, on the usages of the voice. I wish you all the best in the future. Judy: Thank-you so much, it was a pleasure speaking with you; great questions and I wish you and your audience great health and great singing.
BJORK Vocal Type: Robusto Soprano Vocal Range: 2 Octaves 7 notes and a semitone E3-D6 Whistle Register: No Vocal Pluses: Voice is strongest in the midrange and in the lower chest register (up to a D5). Unusually the chest voice retains its power, volume and strength despite its timbre thinning somewhat as it pushes higher. As a whole, the voice is a dynamic one that can be oppressive and domineering one moment, and soft and sweet the next. It has the dexterity to sing complex melodies and vocal runs, but also the stamina to hold notes, while maintaining its quality, at length. Vocal Negatives: The lack of vibrato sometimes makes the higher chest notes sound too sharp and piercing, thus becoming overbearing at times. Thanks for permission to reprint from DIVA DEVOTEE - www.divadevotee.com
ARIANA GRANDE Vocal Type: Soprano Vocal Range:4 Octaves and a semitone Eb3-E7 Whistle Register:Yes Vocal Pluses: Agile voice that carries very little weight with it and is resonant and well supported all throughout the vocal registers. With great technique Ariana Grande is capable of singing all the way down to a Eb3 with ease, exhibiting a smoky vocal texture. The voice begins to showcase more power and character however in the upper belting and head voice registers where it finds its “ring”. Ariana Grande’s chest voice is elastic and mixes well almost never exhibiting strain or fatigue. The head voice is connected, light, resonant, and easily accessed- being able to seamlessly blend into a head note from chest voice. Vocal Negatives: Chest notes, although executed with great technique, lack the resonance that the rest of the voice shines with. The whistle register has not been used live- which may indicate a lack of control with the register.
EMELI SANDE that is clear, cutting and clearly well supported. Due to her excellent “mix” (between her head and chest voice), Sandé retains a fair amount of weight, character and texture even up to an F5. Her ease within this part of the range shows a brilliant technique is at work. Her head-voice isn’t used for protracted periods but instead Sandé switches to and from it to add interest to her melodic lines. The fact that she can do so at all, apparently with ease, suggests she has the skill to sing in this part of the range, but chooses not to. The notes themselves sound more akin to falsetto, being light and breathy.
Vocal Type: Mezzo Soprano Vocal Range: 2 Octaves 2 notes (D3-F5) Whistle Register: No Vocal Pluses: Her lower range, which sits just above the second octave, doesn’t produce the healthiest of sounds, being foggy and pushed, but it quickly gains a surer footing as it climbs. Being somewhat of a vocal chameleon, Sandé can change the tone and timbre of her midrange: lightening and imbuing it with a breathy, airy quality [Breaking The Law]; or keeping it fuller, darker and with a maturer quality to it all depending on what is needed. Sandé can also play with her intonation to give her delivery a different sound. These qualities work together to give the midrange brilliant dynamics and impressive versatility, all while highlighting the musicality and sensitivity of the singer. Sandé is equally as comfortable in her belting range as she is in her midrange, with songs like Heaven being sung almost entirely in the belting range of her voice. The quality of her belt is one
Vocal Negatives: Underutilised head-voice, and weak lows. At times the chameleon like quality of her voice, though showing skill, makes it harder to immediately identify- for instance sounding like Leona Lewis here, and Beverly Knight here.
DEMI LOVATO belting range, as always, is strong and accessed via healthy technique- meaning Demi actually sings the notes, oppose to shouting them out. Her lower register has also been worked on and now extends to C#3. However, it is still patchy, with the C#3 being well supported while other low notes are not. Her head voice is getting stronger but still needs some improvements. Overall, her belting and lower range are at their peak with her head voice seeing improvement.
Vocal Type: Mezzo-Soprano Vocal Range: 3 Octaves Eb3-Eb6 Vocal Strengths: Wide range in chest voice (up to A5 live) and strong vocal endurance- an overall topechelon belter.Uncanny ability to emote and in possession of a unique, slightly raspy tone when singing in her mid-range. The voice is incredibly versatile, being able to sing various genres from rock to balladry to Broadway to Rand B.
Vocal Weaknesses: Demi needs to work on her head voice and falsetto- which isnâ€™t as strong as the rest of her voice. Her low register could also use some work, though itâ€™s much better now than it used to be.
Her melismatic control used to be a negative aspect of the voice, but is now a strength. Contrasting old and new live performances reveal just how much sheâ€™s improved. What used to sound incredibly messy and uncontrolled is now clean, precise and musical. Experience has turned a con into a positive.. The release of her self-titled album Demi has also highlighted the improvements to the voice. Her
5 to 10 minutes practice a day will help you to achieve better posture.
Exercises for Improving Posture
5 to 10 minutes practice a day will help you to achieve better posture, the ideal is to reach a point whereby your posture and movements become automatic and uncocious.
Be relaxed and natural Keep your movements fluid Keep your chin level Keep your knees loose Keep your head up Keep your shoulders sloping and relaxed Keep your toes pointed forward with your weight on heels and soles Keep the front of your neck loose - donâ€™t stretch it Keep abdominal muscles relaxed Keep your back muscles relaxed Smile!
Drop or hunch your shoulders Move stiffly or jerkily Drop or tuck in your chin when trying to sing low notes Stretch your head upward when trying to sing high notes Strain or push your abdominal muscles
Place the book centrally on the top of your head. Turn your head slowly to the left, return to center then repeat the exercises turning your head to the right. The head movements should be smooth with eyes ahead, chin level, head, neck and shoulders relaxed. If the exercise is done correctly the book will remain in place. Tense up, drop the jaw or move jerkily & the book will fall! Repeat this exercise until you can do it several times without the book falling off.
Stand at the end of the walk space and place the book centrally on the top of your head. Walk normally towards the mirror, observing your posture as you walk. If your posture is correct and your movements are smooth then the book will remain in place - if not it will fall! Repeat this exercise until you can walk the length of the space without the book falling.
Stand at the end of the walk space and place the book centrally on the top of your head. Walk normally towards the end of the walkspace, turn and walk back towards the starting point. If your posture is correct and your movements are smooth then the book will remain in place - if not it will fall! Repeat this exercise until you can do the exercise without the book falling.
How the Voice Works We rely on our voices every day to interact with others, and a healthy voice is critical for clear communication. But just as we walk without thinking about it, we usually speak without thinking how our body makes it happen. HowThe main parts of voice production: • The Power Source: Your Lungs • The Vibrator: Your Voice Box • The Resonator: Your Throat, Nose, Mouth, and Sinuses
The Power Source: The pow-
er for your voice comes from air that you exhale. When we inhale, the diaphragm lowers and the rib cage expands, drawing air into the lungs. As we exhale, the process reverses and air exits the lungs, creating an airstream in the trachea. This airstream provides the energy for the vocal folds in the voice box to produce sound. The stronger the airstream, the stronger the voice. Give your voice good breath support to create a
ever, knowing how we make sound is useful to maintaining the health and effectiveness of our voices. The following overview describes the body parts that work together to produce the sounds we make when we speak and sing.
steady strong airstream that helps you make clear sounds.
The Vibrator: The larynx (or
voice box) sits on top of the windpipe. It contains two vocal folds (also known as vocal cords) that open during breathing and close during swallowing and voice production. When we produce voice, the airstream passes between the two vocal folds that have come together. These folds are soft and are set into vibration by the passing airstream. They vibrate very fast – from 100 to 1000 times per second, depending on the pitch of the sound we make. Pitch is determined by the length and tension of the vocal folds, which are controlled by muscles in the larynx.
The Resonator: By themselves,
the vocal folds produce a noise that sounds like simple buzzing, much like the mouthpiece on a trumpet. All of the structure above the folds, including the throat, nose, and mouth, are part of the resonator system. We can compare these structures to those of a horn or trumpet. The buzzing sound created by vocal fold vibration is changed by the shape of the resonator tract to produce our unique human sound. When our voices are healthy, the three main parts work in harmony to provide effortless voice during speech and singing.
American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery
When your voice is healthy, the three main parts work in harmony to provide effortless voice during singing.
Gabrielle Giguere : Winner of The Quaker Chewy Superstar Search Contest
Food for Singers: The Diva Diet by Lindsay Feldmeth*
For a singer, eating right is a balancing act.
and ginger tea. If you’re feeling hoarse or scratchy, a spoonful of honey will soothe your throat and fight off bacteria.
Food is fuel, and you need enough fuel to get through your show. But too much food could make you lethargic on stage, and the wrong kind of food could irritate your throat, ruining your performance.
5 WORST FOODS FOR SINGING
5 BEST FOODS FOR SINGING
2. Heavy Foods – Singers avoid fatty foods, greasy
1. Water - Dehydration is a singer’s worst night-
mare. Dry vocal cords are less flexible and more susceptible to damage. The vocal folds are one of the last places in the body to get hydrated. So you can’t moisten your throat (from the inside) until you have consumed enough water to hydrate all of your vital organs.
2. Veggies & Fruit – Singers pile their plates full
of green leafy vegetables. These help the body shed toxins and fight diseases. For optimal vocal performance, Aaron Lim, author of Your Personal Singing Guide, recommends fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamins A, C & E. You can select raw foods packed with nutritional value; before singing, drink a green smoothie with kale or chard, juicy fruit, flax seeds, dates and water.
3. Protein - Just like athletes, singers need protein
to maintain their strength and stamina. Many singers like fish and poultry, because they are high in protein but low in fat. But a couple of the singers in my survey reported needing iron-rich red meats on the day before a performance. Vegetarian singers prefer protein shakes and energy bars.
4. Small “Combo” Meals - Many singers eat a
small meal about two hours before the curtain goes up. They can’t afford to get dizzy onstage, so they avoid sugary and starchy foods that could spike their blood sugar. They also balanced their proteins and carbs. Favorite meals included salmon and salad, eggs and toast, or chicken and rice.
1. Alcohol - Many people only sing in public if they’re
tipsy, but opera singers finally stop singing when they drink. Here’s why: alcohol causes the tissues in the larynx to swell, reducing vocal control.
foods, and anything that might give them gas. Remember that food is fuel, but don’t overtank! Singing depends on good breath management. If you eat too much, your digestive system will slow down and your abdominal muscles will relax and you’ll find it harder to support your air.
3. Caffeine - Caffeinated drinks steal moisture from the body. Also remember that caffeine is a real drug and it can hype you up. Performing is exciting enough by itself; you don’t want to flood your body with caffeine and adrenaline.
4. Spicy Foods – Garlic and other spices are fantastic for the immune system, but they are hard on the vocal folds. They can also irritate the stomach, causing acid reflux. You’ll also want to avoid foods with nuts or small particles that could get lodged in your throat.
5. Milk – Dairy products have been linked to sinus infections. To a singer, there is nothing worse than having a raging infection in the ears, nose and throat. For many years, we were taught that drinking milk actually produced phlegm. This turns out to be a myth, and yet some singers do get congested when they use milk products.
It’s best not to be too neurotic about what you eat. Anxiety does not help you sing better. But clearly, food plays an important role in the singer’s life. If you want to stay in peak vocal condition, you need to choose your meals wisely.
5. Vocal “Lubricants”- Food and water never
come in direct contact with the vocal cords. But there are some snacks that stimulate saliva production, bringing relief to singers who suffer from “dry mouth.” These include apples, lemons, hard candy
* Lindsay Feldmeth is a professional opera singer. She grew up in Los Angeles but studied opera in Salzburg. Then she worked in Italy for a couple of years. For More: http://globetrottingsoprano.com/about/
VOCAL HEALTH Itâ€™s best not to be too neurotic about what you eat. Anxiety does not help you sing better.
Thanks for permission to reprint from VoiceCouncil Magazine - www.voicecouncil.com he ocalist agazine
Beyonce’s Secret Maple Syrup Diet
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Although she now favours a more balanced eating plan, pop star Beyonce Knowles helped boost the popularity of the Maple Syrup diet. Lose over a stone in just a fortnight! That’s the promise of the Maple Syrup Diet followed by pop star Beyonce. But is this diet really the best way to shift those excess pounds and will it work for everyone? Dietitian Juliette Kellow investigates... The ex-Destiny’s Child singer spilled the beans on how she slimmed down and lost 1½ stone in just two weeks for her movie, Dreamgirls. Beyonce’s diet apparently consisted of eating nothing for a fortnight, instead surviving on detox drinks consisting of a syrup mixed with lemon juice, water and cayenne pepper!
This diet is potentially dangerous. Effectively, it involves drinking nothing but sugared water for days on end. Of course you will lose weight, but that’s purely the result of limiting calories excessively.
The effects of crash diet
This low calorie diet plan will leave you hungry, irritable and lacking in energy as your blood sugar levels go on a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. And chances are, the pounds will go straight back on as soon as you ditch the diet.
The syrup – Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup – is made from the sap of maple and palm trees. Also known as The Lemon Detox, the diet was introduced more than 30 years ago by naturopath Stanley Burroughs. Many of the claimed benefits include weight loss, cleansing the body of toxins, greater resistance to illness, improved concentration, increased energy, clearer skin and eyes, shinier hair and stronger nails.
Crash Diet Versus Healthy Eating
Bottom line: this is a crash diet – and one of the worst! Put it to the back of your mind and concentrate on getting a bootylicious body by eating a healthy diet that will shift those pounds slowly – but keep them off for good.
The detox drink itself is made by mixing 2 tablespoons of the Natural Tree Syrup (which they say is 20ml) with 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper or ginger and half a pint of hot or cold water. It’s recommended you drink as much as you like, but ideally six to nine glasses daily.
For More: www.weightlossresources. co.uk/diet/maple-syrup.htm 91
By Anna Kroupina Credit Photos: Madalyn Sklar 94
Thereâ€™s no doubt about it - Madalyn Sklar is a techie. Her technological expertise covers an array of social media apps and strategic online tools that make her a force to be reckoned with in the realm of marketing and promoting yourself online, particularly relating to music. In 1996, Madalyn founded GoGirlsMusic.com, a community that seeks to â€œsupport, promote and empowerâ€? female musicians and to teach them to make the most of the Internet with the goal of achieving greater success and reach in the music industry. Every Thursday night, GoGirlsMusic.com prompts discussion with the music community via Twitter using the hashtag #ggchat. Madalyn is an early adopter of new technology and social apps and this, combined with her fiery personality and passion for music, make her an esteemed resource for the chicks of Go Girls Music. Her social media expertise is requested at conferences and seminars worldwide, like the Indie Connect Virtual Music Conference and Expo and, most recently, the NERFA (Northeast Regional Folk Alliance) Conference where she headed a social media workshop. Madalyn also runs workshops using online platforms, like the #TwitterSmarter Master Class and her Work Smarter, Not Harder Workshop.
TVM: Tell us about what GoGirls is? Madalyn Sklar: I started this 17 years ago back in January of 1996 and we’re the oldest and largest online community of independent women in music. Our mission is to support, promote and empower female musicians and the guys that are in their band. The only requirement to join is having at least one female artist. What we do is we use education, events and social media to really empower female artists. I put out so much information and resources for musicians. I put together events all over the world.
to people outside your local community and have basically little tiny conversations. And that fascinated me being that I was a techie musician. Specifically, I wanted talk to other female musicians because I live in Houston, Texas, so I’m in the south of country and I would get frustrated going into guitar shops and being ignored and it was like, “OK, am I being ignored because I’m a woman, or is it just ignorance, or is it because I’m in the shop? What’s the deal? Why is this going on here?” I thought the Internet would be a great way to go seek out other female musicians to see if they’re
plan. TVM: GoGirls Music is run on a volunteer basis, right? Madalyn Sklar: Yes, we’re 100% volunteer-run. TVM: How many member are there currently? Madalyn Sklar: We have different levels of membership, but if I had to put everybody together in one big pile, it’s tens of thousand of members. We’ve been doing this for so long. I’d say about 40 thousand [members]. TVM: What inspires you to keep going? Madalyn Sklar: It’s the feedback I get. Well, it’s two things. I love
And then because I’m a techie, I use social media to bring a lot of people together. This has become more of our focus in the last couple of years because social media is so dominant now. TVM: What inspired you to start GoGirls? Madalyn Sklar: Here’s how it all started – after 1995, I got onto the Internet and that’s when it was fairly new and most people were not on it and it certainly was not in any kind of capacity like it is now. It was really those early years when it was developing. I saw the potential of using that to connect with people. You can talk
going through and experiencing things that I’m going through. Now, I wasn’t a serious musician; I was a more of a hobbyist musician. At the time, I was playing quite regularly by myself, not in a band or anything like that. There was just that whole idea of connecting with people and the Internet seemed like the perfect place to do that. Of course being that it was new, there wasn’t a lot of people on the Internet yet, but I was building this connection with people everywhere and it just fascinated me and it just kept snowballing. This was not set out to be a business; there was no business
helping people. My passion is to help people, to bring people together and help them, and I’m very good at that, obviously with GoGirls all these years. It makes me feel good to help people and see them connect through this community that I started. An example would be that through the GoGirls community, every Thursday night we do this online Twitter chat. We’ve been doing that over two years. We have a lot of regulars. I’ve seen several of our members really connect with each other as a starting point and from there, I’ve seen them go out and do shows together. They
don’t live in the same cities or even the same states. I’ve seen them get together to do shows, or get together and record together. And it’s cool to see that this all happened because of an idea I had to start a little website that grew to what it is today. TVM: You mentioned that you started it way back in 1996 – have the mission or the message changed at all over the years? Madalyn Sklar: No, because even back then and even when the Internet was new, it was all about promoting, supporting and empowering. Those were the three things that were important to me and that I felt would be the whole basis for this community. Even though 17 years later, the business has drastically changed and Internet marketing has drastically changed, but being a musician has not really changed; it’s about putting out good music, being creative. So the promoting, supporting, empowering, the part that I want to do, there’s been no need for change. I look back and think, “Wow, it’s really
MySpace started getting popular, I made sure we were everywhere on MySpace and it was to the point that I would go to music conferences around the country and as soon as I walked in the door, people would look at me and go, “Hey, you’re Madalyn from GoGirls! We’re MySpace friends.” It was the coolest thing; it was so cool! It’s amazing the power of social media. I’m an early adopter of technology, so GoGirls gets a little bit of that. I always make sure that whatever is cool, GoGirls is usually one of the early adopters to it. I was live tweeting at a music conference before anybody knew what that was. And now, we go to conferences and who’s not tweeting? Everybody’s tweeting in a conference room, and everybody’s using the hash tag. I’m always that one that’s trying out something before it becomes mainstream. Everybody does webinars now, but I was teaching people through webinars how to use Facebook in 2008. That’s what I love and I think that’s what I bring to GoGirls; it’s that we’re always evolving around the
cool that this has all stayed the same.” We grow with time and as social media evolves, so I made sure that we were right at the top of that wave. When
new technology and the Twitter chats and being on Twitter every Thursday night for two and a half years. It’s so cool.
“Being a musician has not really changed; it’s about putting out good music, being creative. So the promoting, supporting, empowering, the part that I want to do, there’s been no need for change...”
TVM: How did you begin your career in music business consulting and music marketing? Madalyn Sklar: What’s interesting is I started GoGirls and I started my web design business at the same time in January 1996. I did not have a background in marketing. I had been in the financial and banking business prior to that, so I was doing a career change basically and stumbled upon the web design business through somebody asking me to do a web page for them because back then, nobody knew how to put together a website; you needed a programmer. I learned how to do it and it turned into his business. I started learning Internet marketing because on the other side, I was doing this cool GoGirls music thing. I was learning Internet marketing for the first few years which was really crucial to me becoming, really quickly, a music marketing expert. So I stared getting asked
to speak at music conferences in the West. I was speaking on Internet marketing at conferences since 1999 or 2000. When social media started becoming popular, then I was asked to speak and moderate on social media panels so now, everywhere I go, they’re like, “Yeah, we want you there to talk about social media.” I’m going to be next month at NERFA, which is the North East Regional Folk Alliance in New York State, and they’re going to have me do a social media workshop and what they’re really excited about is for part of that, I’m going to be teaching everybody there how to tweet during a conference. That’s actually going to be the very first workshop of the entire conference. I think we’re going to start seeing this more and more at conferences - that more and more people want to learn and understand how to tweet and how to connect with people while
you’re at a conference. TVM: What are your main responsibilities when you’re working with a client as a music marketer? Madalyn Sklar: Everyone comes to me for different things. Most times, people just want to learn how to do things right and how to properly market their music online, especially with social media, so that they can show you that they have their social media sites in place properly and not only that they have Facebook, but that they have it put together properly and that they’re utilizing all the tools. And then understanding how to tweet and how often. It’ a lot of basic stuff because a lot of people don’t know very much about marketing. Everybody is great at putting out their music, but the big thing that a lot of people forget to do when they’re working on their music is they
“The big thing that a lot of people forget to do when they’re working on their music is ... how they’re going to market it...” really should think ahead how they’re going to market this once it’s done. Once I’m finished in the studio, I get it manufactured, I have the CD in my hand, I’ve got the digital songs selection, it’s always that “now what do I do?” TVM: In terms of the artists that you have consulted with, do they have similar music styles or varied ones? Madalyn Sklar: It’s all varied; I work with all genres of music, all different types. Also with GoGirls Music, we’re all genres as well. We’re a community; it’s all genres, it’s all levels. We’ve had anyone from beginners to people who’ve been playing for 20 to 30 years professionally. It’s all just about just bringing people together to help each other and support each other. TVM: The only stipulation for GoGirls is that there’s at least one female member in the group, is that right? Madalyn Sklar: That’s right. Solo female artists and bands with at least one female, and it doesn’t have to be female-fronted. We’ve had bands that join our community where the girl’s been the drummer or the bass player; she may not even sing. We’ve put out compilation CDs in the past where we’ve had songs on there where it’s a guy singing and it always throws people off like, “why is there a guy singing?” We’re not saying it has to be femalefronted; there are some organizations like that, but we’re not trying to be like everyone else. We’re unique, we’re different; there’s nobody out there doing exactly what we’re doing. People have done this for different reasons. My only reason to do this was to bring musicians together. TVM: Tell us about the challenges in music marketing today?
Madalyn Sklar: With music marketing, I think the biggest challenge is to be able to rise to the top above all the noise and clutter, because there’s so much information out there. We’re all overloaded with information. That’s the biggest challenge when it comes to your marketing: thinking outside the box and finding ways to come up with something unique to make you stand out. TVM: When you see artists that are attempting to market themselves, what are the most common mistakes that you notice they commit? Madalyn Sklar: I’ve seen artists, a lot of the time, make it all about themselves and oversell it. That whole, “me, me me!” and “buy my CD” and “come to my show.” They’re just shoving it down everybody’s throats and that just doesn’t work. We don’t want to be sold. When I was in the financial industry, I was in sales and I had to read a lot of sales books and [listen to] cassettes and all of that, learning how to sell. One thing I learned back then, that can apply to anything or any business, is that people want to by from people they like. So you should always be likeable. That’s something that’s always stuck with me, so in the music business when I’m coaching and consulting with musicians on how to better utilize your social media, if you just be likeable and don’t always make it about yourself, people would be interested in you and people will want to listen to what you want to say. Here’s an example: on my Twitter chat that I do every Thursday night, we all get on there and there’s a lot of, “Hey, how’s it going, how are you doing?” Like the first 15 or 20 minutes we spend just saying ‘hi’ to each other because we all
like each other; we’ve all become friends, all the regulars. Every so often, you get somebody who doesn’t really know how to do this and they still have that mentality of “all about me” and “sell sell sell” and they’ll come onto a Twitter chat like this and instead of reading and listening to what’s being said, they just start spewing out, “Hey, go buy my CD. Hey, I have a show coming out.” And you look at this like, “OK...this person doesn’t exist” because that’s not how you do it. TVM: At what stage should an artist seek out a music marketer? Madalyn Sklar: When you’ve got music that you’re putting out, that you’re selling, it’s definitely really good to have somebody helping you or at minimum, somebody for advice, just advising you and making sure your doing things right. It could be as early as putting out your first record, but plan those things out before. A problem that I see with artists is they wait until they’ve done everything and the CD is in their hands and they say, “OK, how do I market this now?” Instead, [marketing the CD should have begun much earlier by] getting all your social media and showing pictures in your studio, putting out your newsletter, talking about what’s going on with the new record and all the stuff you’re doing [like] recording, writing, coming up with the artwork. Fans love to be a part of that. With social media these days and Instagram, you see artists getting more and more creative when including their fans with their visuals. I’ve seen, countless times, artists doing some kind of contest on Instagram or Facebook. I think that’s a great way to get fans involved in your marketing.
Founder of RAW: Natural Born Artists By Anna Kroupina Credit Photos: Heidi Luerra 100
By Nana O. Yeboah Credit Photos: Gregory Bloom
TVM: What made you want to start an organization like RAW? Heidi Luerra: Well, I was actually an aspiring fashion designer. I’m originally from a small town in northern California and I moved to Los Angeles right after high school. I started my own clothing line, very young, right after school and I was trying to find a way to promote myself. To get my line out there and hopefully make a living from it and I found it kind of impossible. There were really no approachable entities to turn to that I felt comfortable knocking on their door and asking them for help and/ or an opportunity for exposure so I started selling at swap meets. It just wasn’t cutting it and I decided in 2005 to take matters into my own hands. I hosted my first show at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles and I had friends that were kind of on the same dream – artists, musicians – that I loved, and I loved their music and their work. We put our heads together and we threw some money in the pot and I di-
rected it and showcased my clothing line for the first time along with their work and we had 750 people show up asking what we were doing. So it was a complete accident, really. I wasn’t expecting to do this, it was something I started on my own and years later, here we are. TVM: As you mentioned, the RAW showcases started in California, and have since expanded worldwide, from all over the States to Australia and Canada. Did you suspect that it would blow up the way it has? Heidi Luerra: I had no idea. I mean, after my first show, I had designers and musicians and artists approaching me and asking me when the next one was and I was very perplexed by that because I didn’t have plans to have a next one. The first one was so much work, but so many different people were involved and I was very fortunate, To answer your question – I had no idea it was going to go in this direction, but I’m glad it has because we’re able to create this net-
work that’s never existed before. I’m curious as to what’s going on in Brooklyn right now, what’s going on in Sydney, Australia and I think that the time that we’re living in and our generation, we’re very fortunate to have the technology to be able to connect with one another in seconds. TVM: How the rise and abundance of social media and technology has changed the market for artists? Heidi Luerra: I think it has tremendously changed the market for artists. There’s so much potential for them to be independent and remain independent. I mean, we’ve seen the stories of people becoming famous off of YouTube and you see people getting found and getting thousands of followers and Facebook friends or “Likes” that really can be game changers. I think that the platform of technology and social media allow an independent artist to stay independent and to be successful.
TVM: Can you briefly sum up what the RAW showcases are all about? Heidi Luerra: A RAW Showcase is basically a multifaceted, independent arts showcase. It consists, normally, of nine different genres of art. All of the art is independent and local to whatever area it’s being showcased in. It consists of independent film, fashion, music, art, performing art, hair, makeup, photography and accessories. Of course, there are other forms of art that can branch off into other categories, but essentially anything and everything that we find creative and cool, we want to showcase, so we’ve also had poets and fire eaters. We call it a Circus of Creativity and it sounds like it’s a lot in one night, but it really kind of flows. We normally start with the film screening and then we go into musical performances, performances by artists on the stage, and fashion shows in the night and then throughout the night, there’s an art gallery that consists of sculptors, photographers, graphic artists, illustrators, painters, that stay there all night. TVM: For vocalists, what kind of help and exposure can being part of RAW get them? Heidi Luerra: I think one of the greatest assets to RAW is the way we showcase our artists and how we operate and sustain ourselves is by ticket sales. We
don’ t have any large corporate sponsors; there were sponsors before, but it’s never been something substantial to keep us running day to day. We don’t have any investors. We’ve done it all with elbow grease and passion. So we sustain our organization through ticket sales to the show and every artist is required to sell 20 tickets to the event. They’re 10-15 dollars a piece, depending on what city they’re in and how it works and I think the great thing about the crowd funding aspect is that a five-piece band can put in just a tiny bit of effort and be able to participate in our showcase. Bands that participate and complete their ticket sale requirement in their home city can showcase for free in another city (out of state, up to a year after their show) with no ticket requirement. So a lot of bands use our network to tour. They have a built-in local crowd wherever they go. They get exposure to new fans that they probably wouldn’t have ever had before, and that goes for all the artists involved. We all need each other, is what I say. There’s power in numbers. We’re all stronger together than we are apart. For a band in particular, it’s a great opportunity to build new fans, to market themselves to people that wouldn’t normally go out and seek their music.
“Bands that participate and complete their ticket sale requirement in their home city can showcase for free in another city (out of state, up to a year after their show) with no ticket requirement. So a lot of bands use our network to tour...”
“We look for musicians who are definitely going to be professional and take this as a commitment...” RAW gives them an opportunity to reach a new audience and be able to market themselves. The bands can also sell merch at the event. We take no commission on anything they sell, at the end of the year, we have what we call our Awards Show, which is the season we’re in now and coming up upon the national show in January. It’s a two and half month competition that all artists who participate in RAW are eligible for and the competition basically narrows down all artists in the art community to nine national winners, one in each of the genres, so the band can be nominated for this and if they’re nominated and win, we arrange for big career-building prizes for them. For instance, meeting with independent record labels, distribution companies, they get a full line of merch from one of our sponsors, they get consultations with big people in the industry that really shape their career, so I think that’s also another bonus for musicians. TVM: What do you look for in a RAW performer who is a vocalist or band? Heidi Luerra: I think they definitely have to be with the times. We try to be all-inclusive, but we do stay away from heavy-metal and [hardcore] rap for specific reasons mostly related to our insurance. Beyond that, if anyone is doing something really cool and creative, we try to be all-inclusive
- we showcase singer-songwriters, we’ve done country, rock, pop. We look for someone who is young, and has this raw talent that is just undeniable. We’ve been fortunate enough to have some really great bands that are on the rise right now. We are quite open-minded. So we look for musicians who are definitely going to be professional and take this as a commitment and make sure that they put their best foot forward. TVM: There have been a couple of shows in Montreal already and more planned - why was Montreal chosen as a hub for RAW showcases? Heidi Luerra: It’s kind of funny. I tend to have a personal connection to all the locations we’re in somehow, but I did a lot of research on Montreal. Montreal is coming up in the arts world. I think that Montreal is a hub for Canada for culture and art. There are amazing, with all the shows that we’ve had so far and people are continuing to submit their work and I’m pretty blown away by all that this city has to offer. So it was chosen because I just thought that it was a cool city and I’m excited that I actually get to go there for about a week, so I’m looking forward to that and doing some exploring. TVM: What can we expect from RAW in the near future? Heidi Luerra: Our goal is an ambitious one. It’s to be the greatest for artists by artists organization in
the world. We’re going to continue to expand and grow and do whatever it takes to be that. I eventually would like to have a very worldwide, but still approachable entity for independent artists. I know we have a million ideas and there’s only so much time in a day, but we have talked about eventually opening up a gallery space as well as an artist management company, and a few other things that I think will be both helpful to our artists and our mission. I think there’s so much potential; it’s just a matter of manpower and hours in a day. If I didn’t have to sleep, it would be a lot easier. TVM: Just to clarify, I read that the showcases are expanding to Europe, specifically Paris and London. Is that something in the works right now, or has it already happened? Heidi Luerra: London actually launched in September. They’re on their second showcase at the moment, which will be launching next week. As far as Paris, we are hiring in Paris. We are hiring in Canada, too – all over Canada now. We have some of these posted on our website. We are looking for showcase directors that are locals to that location. They can apply by sending their cover letter and resume to email@example.com. We are working for the next year to expand more all over Europe. So little by little, I’ll have to get myself a translator.
Hublot Classic 105
Being An Artist Is Not The Only Way Your Star Can Shine From infancy Marcie Allenâ€™s legacy was that of purpose and innovation. Marcie had ambition and music in her blood. Granted, she may have had a head start but she had to work just as hard, perhaps, harder to get to where she is today. After working through college by booking bands, an internship one summer changed her life. Whilst working under David Williams at LiveNation, she was offered a permanent position and she never looked back. Today Marcie Allen Caldwell is the CEO of her own company, MAC Presents, founded in 2004, which negotiates sponsorship between brands and artists. As if what she does is not wonderful enough, Marcie is also a gleaming example to young girls everywhere that success in a male-dominated industry is possible. Equipped with a mostly female staff that are also responsible for handling big clients, Allen surrounds herself with extremely capable individuals who possess the same high quality work ethic as she does. In complete awe of all of her accomplishments, she is no stranger to awards and accolades such as reaching the notable Billboard lists and yet she still makes time to pay her blessings forward. In addition to being on the board of directors for organizations such as TJ Martell, a New York City Cancer and AIDS foundation and Musicians On Call, which brings musicians to perform at health care facilities, Marcie is also a mentoring voice at NYU where she was also an adjunct-professor last spring. For Allen, it seems to be integral to impart the wisdom that she has acquired through her various experiences in order to foster the next generation in the entertainment industry.
By Nana O. Yeboah - Credit Photos: Marcie Allen
MARCIE ALLEN 107
TVM: Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Marcie Allen, CEO of M.A.C Presents. Marcie, how are you today? Marcie Allen: I’m doing wonderful. TVM: Great. You have a remarkable career. How did it all begin for you? Marcie Allen: My first job, when I was 15 or 16 years old was answering phones at Charlie Daniels management office and then I started booking bands for my high school. When I went to college I was in a sorority, Tri Delta where I was social chairman for 3 years and booked bands for my sorority as well as for other fraternities on campus and really just got the bug of the music business even though I had grown up surrounded by it. In the summer after my junior year of college, BeBe Evans helps secure an internship for me in Washington DC with Live Nation. The day I was
supposed to leave, my boss and mentor at the time, Dave Williams, offered me a full time job to be director of marketing when I was 21 and the rest is just history. 18 years later, I’m knee deep in the music business and still loving it. TVM: Wow. You’re a female in a male-dominated industry, were there any glass ceilings that you had to break through or was gender irrelevant? Marcie Allen: The glass ceiling is still very present in the industry. There are not a lot of women at all, I was just included in Billboard’s 40 Under 40 list; there were only 8 women including myself and that issue came out in July 2013. Billboard’s Power 100 list I think there were 5 or 6 women January 2012 and I think that’s reflective of the challenges women continue to endure. What is so amazing about women in the industry is that they
are willing to take risks and challenge themselves and find a niche; which is what I was able to do with MAC Presents. We’re a sponsorship and fulfillment agency based in New York with a staff of 12; 11 women and 1 man, another office in Los Angeles and we really are excited about all the possibilities that we’ve been able to have with our clients. Our current clients are Samsung, AT&T, Citi, Delta; it’s so amazing to work with such blue chip companies and they don’t really care about my gender; they just care about who is going to represent them to the best of their abilities and we work really hard for our clients. I am very aware of what I have been able to achieve in a male dominated industry but I think one of the wonderful things about the women in this industry is that they support one another.
“Artists don’t want a brand just to write a check; they want them to be a partner, they want to say ‘what are your marketing efforts ..., what events are you involved in what PR efforts are you doing ...” TVM: You deal a lot with brands, what is your definition of a brand? Marcie Allen: Obviously an artist is a brand as well, but when I say that I’m working on behalf of a brand that refers to Citi, AT&T, and Samsung. TVM: Working on behalf of those brands, what are the most important things to remember when managing a brand? Marcie Allen: To always be creative and cutting edge; especially because of technology the industry is moving so quickly and with social media blowing up over the past couple of years now there’s a whole other way for us to track brand involvement with an artist. I think more now than ever before, brands are really looking for more integrated campaigns; they want to have a seat at the table with the artist. Even though it’s not an endorsement deal, they want to fully integrate the campaign. The days of just tour sponsorships are gone, this is ‘how can I leverage my brand through the tour, the artist’s philanthropic efforts, PR (public relations), social media, etc. All these different touch points are extremely important. TVM: It seems that you marry brands with fashion, music, and fans do you find that there is a common thread or several between brands, fashion, music and consumers? Marcie Allen: We haven’t done a lot of fashion; we did a deal with Samsung, AT&T, and Rag n Bone and it’s definitely given me the desire to do more deals. We were able to have a billboard in Times Square, the beach campaign and online commercial shot by Danny Clinch in addition to having all of the bus shelters all around the city during fashion week February 2012. I think that the fashion industry is extremely exciting and right
for brands to be involved and rolling into 2014 we’ve had a couple different opportunities that have been presented MAC both on behalf of fashion designers as well as brands saying that they want to be involved with fashion designers and so I know we’ll be doing more. TVM: What inspires you the most in your line of work? Marcie Allen: I want to make a difference. I am very philanthropic; that is extremely important to me, to be able to give back as well as to mentor and inspire the female leaders of tomorrow. I was an adjunct-professor at NYU last spring and I absolutely loved it and actually I just went and spoke the other night, I’m not even teaching this semester but I love it because, other than my aunt, I didn’t really have a mentor in college that was in the entertainment industry. I want to be able to show the youth that anything is possible, especially the female population. If you have an idea and you’re dedicated, you really can achieve it and that’s why I like going and telling my story. It wasn’t easy getting here, it has been a wild ride but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. TVM: Well said. What educational background do you feel is necessary to work in your field? Marcie Allen: I think you need to go to college, I think doing internships are key to being successful, and you need to be a great writer, a great storyteller, that you have knowledge in social media, and graphic design; especially if you want to work in my field. TVM: Could you take our readers through the process in terms of working with the Citi’s, the Samsung’s, and AT&T’s when approaching an artist, how do you approach them? And how do you determine which ones to work with?
Marcie Allen: Brands call me and say they have a new product coming out or that this is a pulse period for them; first or second quarter of the following year. They tell me the demographic that they are after, their imported markets, and then we have to go and see who has a new album dropping or who’s working an album cycle, who’s got a tour going out, who’s got a lot of buzz going on whether it’s through social media or PR and we put all those elements together. People ask me all the time if there’s a formula and there isn’t one; it’s a gut check. It’s literally just, ‘I think this would be a good idea, this is what you need to do to make a splash.’ TVM: Oh...interesting. Are there any projects in the works that you’re excited about and want to share with our readers? Marcie Allen: Yeah, I’m really excited about some work that we’re doing with Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 3 with the gear and the new watch. We’re actually going to be out at the first annual Life Is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas where they will shut down downtown. TVM: Wow, Marcie Allen when do you sleep?! Marcie Allen: Laughs I know. TVM: That’s crazy. What advice would you give to others that aspire to work in a similar field? Marcie Allen: Learn how to delegate. Similar to the deal that I was just telling you about that’s being run by two girls in my office; I actually won’t be at the festival and one of the things that is great about having such a great team is that we do rely on each other so I don’t have to be at every event because my team is so strong. They bring in deals too; it’s not just me. I think that it has taken me a long time to get here and be able to have such a strong team behind me but it’s
given me the freedom to have a life. I got married last summer, I have two stepdaughters, I’m on the board of directors for TJ Martell which is a Cancer and AIDS foundation here in New York, and then also for Musicians on Call which brings musicians to perform at health care facilities. So my advice to someone who’s just starting out in the industry is to make sure they have balance in their life; you need to work hard but you need to play hard as well. TVM: Where would you like to be in five years? Marcie Allen: Sitting on a beach with my husband. Laughs TVM: Laughs nice. Marcie Allen: I dunno...while I am a planner, I realize that this industry is rapidly changing and the opportunities that are coming up, for example working with The Rolling Stones this past summer was the opportunity of a lifetime and I couldn’t plan that. TVM: You recently conducted an amazing interview with Billboard Magazine, in which fellow panelist Bozoma SAINT JOHN said that “A BRAND SHOULD DO
MORE THAN THE USUAL SONG AND DANCE WHEN SPONSORING A CONCERT TOUR”... do you feel the same? And what does that mean to you? Marcie Allen: What that means is that artists don’t want a brand just to write a check; they want them to be a partner, they want to say ‘what are your marketing efforts that we can potentially tie into, what events are you involved in that we can potentially tie into, what PR efforts are you doing that we can potentially tie into. For a long time brands just wrote checks and that’s no longer the case. Like I said, it comes back to the whole, the want a seat at the table with the artist and their team. TVM: I see, so they want more interaction between both parties. Marcie Allen: Yep. TVM: Thank you Marcie for your time and I definitely hope you end up on that beach with your husband in 5 years. Marcie Allen: Oh, thank you.
The Agency Group’s Darcy Gregoire talks with The Vocalist Magazine about his career and necessary requirements for booking agents. Gregoire was only 14 years old when he booked his very first show. “I booked my first show with the high school band that I played guitar in. It was our school’s Christmas dance party. A couple of months later, we played on CBC TV’s Switchback at a battle of the bands. I was always the guy in the band who negotiated with bar owners, created promo, hired production.” He later completed a music business course at the Trebas Institute in 1994, and then began his career as an agent at Paquin Entertainment in Winnipeg. In 2007, he joined The Agency Group, where he currently represents a roster of over 60 acts. By Anna Kroupina Credit Photos: Darcy Gregoire 112
THE BIZ THE EXPERTISE
THE PROCESS OF BOOKING A TALENT
Booking agents stand out with their connections, their negotiation skills and their network. “Agents are facilitators. We act as buffers. We bring parties together under the right terms.” Successful booking agents have a wider array of resources at their fingertips and their ultimate goal is to book an artist at a venue. An agent is the one that gets work for the client.” Gregoire adds that booking agents usually have skill of diplomacy. “Agents are better equipped to route tours, negotiate deals, and to influence or potentially use leverage in certain situations.” It’s important to note that the manager, promoter and booking agent form a collective, a triangle where each role complements the other. For the most success, artists are advised to utilize each role’s representative for what he or she specializes in.
Booking agents are great networkers, are resourceful and have exceptional interpersonal skills. To be successful, Gregoire adds that they need to have “creativity, enthusiasm, and the ability to sell an idea.” They also need to be ready to work hard and put in 10 to 12 hour days. Gregoire singles out time management as the greatest challenge for himself and booking agents in general. “I like to be thorough, and I like to give time to creativity and to visualization for my clients. What we do as agents is much more labour intensive than most people probably realize as well.” But don’t let this deter you! If this is a career you’re passionate about and you’re ready to work hard, it may just pay off, both figuratively and literally. Forbes Magazine gives a fairly wide range of salaries for booking agents, listing from $20,000 upwards of 1 million! Booking agent salaries are commission-based, ranging “from 10 to 20 percent of an act’s gross income per show.” “It really requires such a commitment of one’s life to do it well and to make a good living. However, if it is your calling, there’s nothing better than getting up every day to so something that you love to do.” His advice is to persevere. “Work hard is about the best single piece of advice I can offer. I usually discourage people who want to become booking agents, not that I come across many.” And for Gregoire, it definitely seems like he has found his calling. His passion shows not only in his knowledge, experience and expertise, but also in his future plans; when asked where he sees himself five years down the road, he had no hesitations when answering, “Sitting at my desk at The Agency Group, doing the exact same thing, only doing it a little better, hopefully.”
HOW A VOCALIST CAN ATTRACT A BOOKING AGENT?
The artist needs to show substance to assure the booking agent that they’ll have something to work with and perhaps more importantly, that you’re someone that others will want to work with. “The recipe to being a successful touring artist begins with the quality of the songs, the strength of the performance, and the ability to communicate with an audience. If you can demonstrate that you’re professional on stage and off stage, along with presenting yourself in a way that an audience finds appealing, you’ll pique an agent’s interest.” If you’ve ever applied with an agency, a list of references may have been requested. While this is a standard procedure, Gregoire proposes an interesting twist on this step: instead of the artist submitting a banal, standard reference sheet that every booking agent has seen a hundred times over, Gregoire considers it’s much more effective to have your references call in themselves to vouch for you. The impact is more significant when the manager of a venue takes time out of his day to call an agent and describe the successes and great customer feedback an act has had at his bar.
If you’d like to contact The Agency Group for booking opportunities with them, check them out here: www.theagencygroup.com. Darcy Gregoire’s roster and contact info can be found here: www.theagencygroup.com/agent/darcy-gregoire.
The Agency Group is an international booking agency with offices in Toronto, Nashville, Los Angeles, New York, London and Malmo (in case you’re wondering, Malmo’s in Sweden!). Darcy Gregoire is an accomplished booking agent at The Agency Group’s Toronto office with a solid 20 years of experience in the industry. He has booked artists of all genres from R&B to rock and all shades in between, with such notable names as Sarah Slean, Ariane Moffatt, Bob Geldof, Martha Wainwright, Hawksley Workman, Jully Black and Daniel Powter.
The House That Style Built: Which artist is in heavy rotation on Afiya Francisco’s iPod? Prince, that’s who. A definite influence on her own style, some say Prince or, “The Artist Formerly Known As” is a definite reflection on a woman whose resume reads like something out of The Devil Wears Prada; she does not go unnoticed and any pearls of wisdom she’s willing to share definitely deserve your attention. Former editor of Canadian House & Home, LouLou, and current editor at large for Real Style Magazine, Afiya is no stranger to outfitting you H to T (Head to Toe). The go-to style expert for various television shows from The Marilyn Denise Show, to Entertainment Tonight Canada, Steven & Chris, and a regular fixture on The Morning Show on Global Television, Francisco is very comfortable sharing her knowledge of style and, more importantly how style is a necessity for all of us. Most of you want to learn how to become Mariah, Whitney, Barbara, and the like and style is an essential part of your dreams becoming reality. Afiya, notorious for putting the functional in style, gives you some essential advice that may guide you on your journey towards the microphone with ideas that can be implemented and lay the foundation before others help you with your style. With a love for fashion and all things style, Afiya lays it out there for you to keep that style right and tight. By Nana O. Yeboah - Credit Photos: Afiya Francisco 117
Nana: Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Afiya Francisco who is a certified style guru catering to any of your fashion advice needs. Afiya, how are you doing today? Afiya: I’m good thanks, yourself? Nana: I’m well, thank you for asking. So, how exactly did you become a stylist? Afiya: I started out in magazines Flare, Canadian House & Home, LouLou and then I decided go freelance. Nana: How do you get your inspiration? Afiya: As cheesy as it sounds, inspiration comes from everywhere. I love the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum), the internet, street style, photography, other blogs; pretty much my surroundings. Nana: Did you always want to be a stylist? When do you realize/ feel that you were good at it? Afiya: I’ve always loved clothes since I was a child with Barbies; mixing and matching their outfits. I didn’t know that a style expert was a job to have and I loved magazines so, I got into magazine publishing thinking it would be an avenue to fulfill my love of clothing. It wasn’t until working at LouLou Magazine where I had opportunities to work on television to discuss outfits and create looks that I realized this was what I wanted to do. I’m confident in my style and my abilities. I’ve had a lot of positive responses and feedback from viewers and individuals who read my blog over the past few years that has really solidified that confidence. Nana: Speaking of your blog, www.stylehouse.ca if people are still unfamiliar, what was the catalyst for starting that blog? Afiya: I just really love magazines but I noticed an evolution that was happening in the world of fashion and I wanted to be at the forefront. On maternity leave I decided to start my own website and I just began to babble about fashion and it snowballed from there. Nana: You’re on various televi-
sion shows in Toronto and you have an interesting sense for fashion for the everyday person. Which artists or personalities have you shared that fashion sense with? Afiya: I have work on various shoots. I’ve worked with a lot of emerging and established Canadian actors on set...Sarah Gadon, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Laura Vandervoort, for Real Style magazine; I work for them as an Editor at Large. Most often I do work with the everyday person and some of them are models of all shapes and sizes who tend to be more realistic. Nana: Do you follow the trends when styling for people? Afiya: Of course. I am definitely aware of what is happening but I wouldn’t put people in clothes just because it’s hot. I think things should be up to date and current just so it stays fresh which I believe is one of the great things about fashion; it’s constantly evolving. Ultimately, I look for things that will fit the aesthetic or the intent and I think that’s what matters. Sometimes, I actually hesitate to use the term stylist because i think they are really at the forefront for creating trends and what I define myself as is a style expert because I take what a stylist creates and make it functional for real life. Nana: Interesting. What advice would you give to any stylist or stylist expert? Afiya: (laughs). Um, I would say to be realistic about it; there are so many wonderful opportunities and it’s an amazing job but you have to work hard and realize that it’s not all glam. A lot of it is schlepping and delivering what the client wants or what that segment (on the television show) is about so you want hold on to what makes you stand out from the pack; you have to have a special touch. Realize that there is a place for your style because if you like it, there’s a very good chance that others will and be aware of your audience.
“Fashion is an opportunity for people to express themselves and showcase their personality...” Nana: What do you feel sets you apart from the pack? Afiya: I think that the fact that I have children, an editorial background, and essentially a real life, blends into assessing the needs of real people. I have an opportunity to see a lot of the stuff out there ahead of time so I kind of feel like I’m more of your stylish best friend than anything else. I feel as if I come across more approachable which is what I think is a lot more helpful to people because not everyone will be Anna Dello Rousso (editor-atlarge for Vogue Japan) and the like. Nana: What does fashion mean to you? Afiya: Fashion is an opportunity for people to express themselves and showcase their personality. It’s a reflection of what is going on in the world that I feel is available to the vast majority of people regardless of what’s in your bank account. Nana: How would you define great style? Afiya: I don’t think there is a specific definition of great style, as in a definite type of style. But owning it, being confident, trying new things, etc are very stylish. Nana: So I guess the best thing you could wear is your confidence. Afiya: Exactly. I know it sounds like a bit of a cliché but we all know the difference between looking great and looking and feeling confident in what you’re wearing. Compliments on your outfit can come from anything you wear, even jeans and a tshirt, what radiates it your confidence it your attire and no trend or designer can create that. Nana: Well said. What does a
style expert’s job typically consist of? Afiya: Well for my job in my capacity is typically on air. The Morning Show on Global Entertainment Tonight Canada, Steven & Chris where I kind of give my interpretation of runway trends and make them into a solution for daily life so that it’s stylish but not necessarily so fashion forward that it’s not functional. Nana: How would you explain your personal style? Afiya: I do have a tomboy edge to classics. I like things very clean cut but I’m open to new things although regardless of what I wear; I weave, at times, in-between brights and mono chromatics, there always a constant element of masculinity in a feminine way. Nana: What do you love about being a style expert? Afiya: I just love clothes. I have this wonderful opportunity to research through blogs, books, and magazines constantly and it’s my job. I’m surrounded by the things I enjoy on a daily basis. Nana: How important is it for a vocalist to have a stylist or fashion expert and when should they seek one out? Afiya: I do think it’s crucial because artists are being sold as packages right now. Before you could survive on talent alone but now I think that we look at artists as personalities. Part of that stems from what you wear. When you are trying to sell yourself I think it is in your best interest to have someone helping you. It doesn’t mean that you have to change your style, it should be reflective of who you are; just a more public version of that.
Nana: How do you determine the best style for anyone you’ve worked with? Afiya: I work with private clients, not often, but I have done consultations for individuals. What I do with them is that I assess who they are based on a questionnaire that they must fill out. I want to know who their celebrity style icons are, what their occupations are, do they entertain, do they have children, what colours they like to wear, etc. These questions help me know what will work for them and what will not. It also helps me get a feel for my clients in terms of the parameters that I must work within and when I can push the envelope. Nana: What are your top 5 styling tips for any aspiring artist? Afiya: First own your look; for example Miley Cyrus has never looked better than she does now because she finally owns her style. If you compare her then until now, I think there is just a confidence that resonates with people. Two, being open to talking to people about your style; if you’re working with a stylist don’t automatically dismiss their opinions give them a chance to explain why they’ve chosen the look they have. Three be very conscious of fit; don’t dismiss something because it doesn’t fit right. You can always have things tailored to fit your body; if clothes fit properly, it can take you from B-list to A-list. Be open to colour; black is always chic but if you’re trying to grab somebody’s attention, colour can definitely do that. Lastly, at the end of the day, forget all the rules! I could give advice forever but at the end of the day it’s all about what works for you. I don’t think there’s a set formula but my advice may set you on the road. Nana: Do you feel that style can make or break an artist? Afiya: I think it can really make an artist. There are certain people who weren’t given the time of day and then they had an image makeover and they are suddenly topping the charts. I think you do need skills and substance for a sustainable career but you have to grab their attention first especially when you are trying to break out. Solange, for example, was just Beyoncé’s little sister and now she has a huge career and I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that it came when she just really began to own her fashion sense. I just think that when artists have a surge in their careers it often coincides with a new look. Nana: Interesting point...readers take note. Well thank-you so much Afiya, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with The Vocalist Magazine. Afiya: Aw, thank-you so much.
â€œMiley Cyrus has never looked better than she does now because she finally owns her style...â€?
Marissa Clemence is a makeup artist from Toronto and although she enjoys and finds success in creating beauty looks for vocalists, it’s this fun and “extreme” makeup style that deals with prosthetics, special effects and a whole lot of creativity that is her true passion. Having graduated from Complections College of Makeup Art & Design in 2011, Marissa has already worked in a variety of media, from TV series and music videos, to fashion shoots and theatre. Her client list includes Amanda Jordan, Amai Kuda, D-Snow and Canadian indie rock band July Talk. Marissa, who seamlessly works in both French and English, has “paid her dues” and worked hard to reach the level of success that she has found in only two years since graduating. By Anna Kroupina Credit Photos: Marissa Clemence 126
THE LOOK BOOK
TVM: Tell me how you got interested in the makeup industry, and did you always know that this is something you wanted to do? Marissa Clemence: Back when I was in high school, I was very interested in arts. My father was artistic, so I think I got that from him. I didn’t quite know what to do with it as a career. I didn’t want to be just an art teacher; I wasn’t satisfied with that idea of a career. My mom had this old makeup kit that she used for carnivals. It was just cheap, Halloween-type makeup. I decided to try something on myself. I didn’t know how to use the product so it took me forever, but I posted a picture online on Facebook and I got tons and tons of great responses, so I started to do more and more and I posted a ton of pictures of different theatrical makeup looks on myself. I figured I found a career where I could paint, draw and sculpt, and I get to see the amazing crazy world of film and fashion and theater. It just sort of clicked. TVM: You mentioned that you do a lot of theater. What are you most interested in in terms of your style. Is it basic wedding kind of makeup, or the more extreme kind mixed with special effects? Marissa Clemence: I’m more along the sides of theatrical crazy special effects - bruises, cuts and things like that are really fun to do as well. Doing basic makeup is fun, but it’s when I get to play around with zombies or fantasy creatures, that’s when I really have fun. TVM: Who influences your style? Where do you get inspiration from? Marissa Clemence: For the theatrical type of makeup, I’ve always really loved Cirque du Soleil makeup because it’s simple, but it’s very elegant and the lines are extra crisp. Because it’s so theatrical, it has to be dramatic and they just do a great job of morphing the face into different shapes and different emotions and things like that. I really like that. TVM: Is there another makeup art-
ist in the industry who you look up to? Marissa Clemence: There’s a makeup artist that I just recently discovered, but who is very well known. His name is Rick Baker. He is phenomenal. He’s a painter and a makeup artist, so you can really tell how he uses shading and lighting to create almost 3D. It looks 3D and it looks real, but it’s only paint; there’s no prosthetics or anything involved. He’s really awesome. TVM: Tell our readers some of the recording artists that you’ve worked with. Marissa Clemence: I’ve worked with July Talk, Thomas D’Arcy, 20 Amp Soundchild, The New Cities, Crossing Jane, Wolves, Hartlie Jones, UnRaveling, D-Snow and Amai Kuda. I think that’s it. TVM: So when you are doing the makeup for a vocalist, does their music influence your choices? Marissa Clemence: It depends on the band. If we’re talking about July Talk for example, there are two singers. There’s one who is a male and has a very, very deep voice. He also has a production company, so I do different videos for him. When I did his first music video, he said to keep the bags under his eyes and that he wants to look more rugged, so he has a character that goes along with his songs and his singing. It really balances and complements the other singer who is a beautiful woman who has a very nice, high voice and she’s still with an edge, but she’s more with pretty makeup. One thing that she wanted me to add was more freckles, so it just depends on the person and if they have a character along with their group or if they don’t. TVM: How important would you say looks and style are for a vocalist and how they help shape their brand? Marissa Clemence: For a vocalist, I think it’s quite important because although you hear the music and it’s a group collaboration, people, I find, focus their attention more on the vocalist because the voice is what appeals to them the most,
what they sing along to. So they look to them to get an idea of what the band is about. Creating that image for yourself as a musician is very important in establishing your style and who you want to reach as an audience and how you want to come across. I think it’s quite important. TVM: So you’re saying that there can’t be a disconnect between the sound and look? It has to all be connected? Marissa Clemence: It doesn’t have to be, but I find that in general, even if you look at a pop band, a popular group, like LMFAO. They came out and were sort of crazy, cooky and party and you look at them, and you see that. The big afro, the big glasses. So you look at them and you associate them to their music, so it’s good to tie in key aspects like that. Or if you listen to a metal band, you’ll look at them and you’ll think « OK, I know that they’re a metal band . » TVM: For the music video for the song “Lights Go Out” by 20 Amp Soundchild, did you work on the blue alien that’s in the video? Marissa Clemence: Yes, I did the prosthetic for that. TVM: What can you tell us about that experience? Marissa Clemence: That was actually my first job making the prosthetics from scratch after college. It was quite a bit of a learning experience for me. It was quite interesting. We worked I think it was like a 16 or 18 hour day because for music videos, they just try to cram it all into one day. We had so many things to shoot. The alien, when I made the prosthetic, didn’t have nostrils, so he was breathing through his mouth, but that created a lot of heat under the prosthetic which sort of lifted a bit, which you can see in parts of the video, but I didn’t have time to fix it. They would only allow for five minutes and that would not work. So it was very, very fun, it was a crazy, big video and the band was really nice, but I’ve learned a lot from that job.
â€œCreating that image for yourself as a musician is very important in establishing your style and who you want to reach as an audience...â€?
“I try to use the least amount of product as possible...”
“...Even Lady Gaga has prosthetics, actually. She has the pointed cheekbones and the pointed shoulders, so there is some in pop.” TVM: How is working as a makeup artist in theater and Broadway, different from a music video, or a shoot? Marissa Clemence: A music video is a lot of work, but condensed into 12, 16 or 18 hours. It’s quite stressful and it’s a lot of hurrying up and waiting, as opposed to theater makeup where you have multiple shows and you already had dress rehearsal to practice, you’ve already met the actors, you’ve done a lot of prepping and per-thought. You do that as we for film, but it’s different. For theater, you’ve got the adrenaline going, you’re like, “OK, I have 30 minutes I have to work on this person and she has to be on stage” and the scenes change and you’re behind the scenes working on adding a wound or something for the character. You see your work come to life right in front of you, as opposed to film or music videos, you don’t see the products that you’ve created or you’ve worked on until a few months or even a year later. So that’s the biggest thing that differentiates those industries. You see your product right as soon as you finish, because they’re going on stage and they’re performing right away. TVM: Do you think that special effects makeup has a place in music videos and in music tours? Marissa Clemence: For music tours, if I go back to July Talk, I haven’t been able to see their show, but I’ve heard that they can be pretty intense. One special effects thing
that they did one time is that they used fake blood. They made quite a mess. They were pouring it everywhere and on the lead signer, the female. It can add some interesting intensity to the show. For music videos, there are tons of music videos that use special effects and prosthetics and things like that. There’s a recent one from Billy Talent that uses a lot of prosthetics. They turned a lot of people into pigs or into vultures, so they’ve got beaks, bald caps, pig noses, ears, fake big gross stomachs and a lot of things. I just worked on a video for Thomas D’Arcy and I had to do a lot of special effects for a slow motion bar fight. The guys at first were clean, a little sweaty, so that’s special effects too - making sure that they’re at the same level of sweat throughout the whole video and then you have to bust them up and make cuts and bruises and things like that. So there’s a big place and there’s a lot of opportunity for special effects for music videos, but I haven’t seen too much in pop, but alternative, or a little punky or things that are a little more intense use them a lot already. Even Lady Gaga has prosthetics, actually. She has the pointed cheekbones and the pointed shoulders, so there is some in pop. TVM: What do you love most about being a makeup artist? Marissa Clemence: My favorite thing about being a makeup artist is that I get to be creative, I get to socialize and I live a bunch of dif-
ferent crazy scenarios every day and not everybody can say that they can work and do what they love for a living. I’m just having fun. TVM: For makeup artists aspiring do you have any advice for them to break into the market? Marissa Clemence: For any makeup artist starting out, unless you somehow have lots of connections right off the bat, you really have to pay your dues, you have to get out there and try and practice and meet people and do volunteer work. All of my teachers when I was in college said, “You’re going to do one year or two at least of volunteering and getting out there, trying to make as many contacts as possible.” Being a successful makeup artist, yes you have to have talent or you have to have some kind of business savvy, but you also have to be good at networking because word gets spread very fast if you do something bad, but it also spreads very fast if you’re very good. You just have to make sure that you have a great impression on everyone you work with and from there, you can apply to unions or agencies for bigger commercials, and that’s when you get the bigger jobs. Then, you can look elsewhere or you can just decide to pack your bags and go to another country and do the same thing there but either way, you have to pay your dues and getting out there.
Celebrity Makeup Artist NZINGHA Who knew that The Vocalist Magazine’s interview with makeup artist Nzingha would wander to spontaneous discussions concerning our love of food and what makes Russell Brand cute? There is simply no doubt that Nzingha’s personality is just as vibrant and colourful as her makeup palette. At just 24 years old, she had already seen the world when she toured as a makeup artist with the Queen of Pop herself, Janet Jackson, in 1993 on The Janet World Tour. Nzingha herself and several projects that she participated in were nominated for prestigious awards, like the sassy music video that had Brandy and Monica ultimately choosing hoes over bros, “The Boy is Mine”, which was nominated for two MTV Music Video Awards. Throughout her career, she has worked with countless photographers, actors, models, and music artists alike, including Brandy, Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Lil’ Kim , Sean “ P-Diddy” Comes, Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, and counltess other star musicians. And with over 25 years in the makeup industry, that’s exactly what has always been Nzingha’s mission : to work with star, or « platinum », musicians. She founded her company « ZFACEINC » in 1988 and its mission statement, « everyone we touch becomes...platinum», reflects Nzingha’s ambition to work with platinum artists with the potential to be legendary – the Celine Dions and Michael Jacksons of this world. She continues to be active in the makeup industry, currently working as a makeup artist on two hot crime-drama TV shows, “The Good Wife” and “Boardwalk Empire.” By Anna Kroupina - Credit Photos: Nzingha 135
TVM: How did you become interested in makeup artistry? Nzingha: We got to the point that in a film, we were doing a fight scene and we needed light special effects makeup. We went and we hired somebody to do the makeup and she looked at our film and was like, « Oh my god, you guys haven’t used makeup through the entire film. How are you supposed to tell this story properly and there’s no makeup? » At that moment, a light just clicked in me and it just felt right - that without makeup, how are we to tell any story, whether it’s a novel story, or a musical story, which is what I do with music videos. TVM: How would you describe your makeup style? Nzingha: Well, I’m a West Indian woman. I pull from all colourful things, bright things, colours that make me happy. I look at art a lot. For a brief amount of time, I was a teacher and in my space of teaching and going to school, I actually taught art and art history at one point, along with English. I’ve had many experiences, so this was just one of them. I pull from art and I pull from life. I love artistic masters like Picasso; I love his use of colours. The mute colours of Gauguin and all those people, I love that! I love abstract and that includes music. My father’s a jazz musician, and my godparents are jazz musicians, so music was always in my blood and part of how I grew up. That was part of the information that I received and I, too, became a musician at one point, so music has always been part of my existence. It’s a soundtrack of people’s lives. If music had a visual to it, this is where I come in. TVM: You’re also an entrepreneur. Tell me about your company, ZFACEINC. Nzingha: A lot of people thought it was an agency when I first started, but it’s not an agency. First of all, I incorporated myself through my company, so I am my business. ZFACEINC is an extension of my-
self in the business realm. Basically, it’s about teaching other artists how to be better artists. That includes a series of workshops, teachings, my blogging and information. I’m about information. TVM: You just mentioned your blogging. One thing that I really noticed about you is that you’re so prominent on social media everywhere! It’s really wonderful. Do you think that this is something important in this day and age? Nzingha: I do think it’s important like you said, and that’s the key word, in this day and age. When I first started in the industry, all of this stuff that we’re doing and social media, it didn’t exist. You still have to do your homework and you still have to hustle, but I think it’s more prevalent now because with the way that the world communicates and the world sees things, you just have to be on top of it. I find that a lot of great artists, from when I started are kind of lagging behind because they’re not tech savvy and I think you do have to be tech savvy. Makeup is tech savvy, but when you start getting into social media, there are a lot of makeup enthusiasts that deem themselves makeup artists, but it’s a very fine line and it’s very misleading. TVM: How important are looks and style for a vocalist? Nzingha: I do think it’s very, very important especially in this age because everything is visual; it’s instant information, instant physical information. I think grooming has always been a part of the entertainment business; that’s really what entertainment is about - it’s visual and it’s audio. So when you combine the visual along with the audio, I think what happens with me, or at least when I first started working with a lot of musical artists, I had the record labels send me the material of the artist that I was working with or had the potential of working with so I could hear what was going on
with them even before I saw them and what I imagined them to look like. So when I got a physical picture of what they looked like and it was totally the antithesis, I was like, « Wait a minute. You’re giving me a totally different visual than what you sound like. Working with these clients, the visual had to match what they were selling, what they were talking about or what they were playing about. I think it’s very important. And it’s all about brand, too. It is, but it’s always been about branding. Branding is not new, it’s just new to this generation because there’s the use of social media. TVM: What does a career as a makeup artist typically consist of? For example, you were on tour with Mary J. Blige and Lil’ Kim. Tell me what being on a tour is like. Nzingha: My very first tour was with Janet Jackson. That was the Janet Tour, the « Janet » album. « That’s the Way Love Goes » was the first single. That was actually my first major tour. I had only been in the industry for three years at that point. Let me tell you something, when I was younger, I was so ambitious. You couldn’t tell me anything. I’ve always had that drive. I was going to be a musician, which I strived to be at one point. I was driven to be that musician; I was going to be excellent. Whatever I decided to do, I decided to be excellent at it – not just average. The first thing I did with the tour is I actually auditioned for Janet and Janet had a six-month audition period, from what she told me, which I’m still floored by. She went to huge makeup and hair agencies to find someone. They sent their very best and here I came, only three years in the business. At the time, I was living in the Bronx, me and my mom. I just came out of nowhere and got this huge amazing prize in touring with Janet. So I went through an audition process.
â€œI think grooming has always been a part of the entertainment business...â€?
The audition process for me began long before I physically met her. I sent sketches of how I thought she should look and different makeup ideas and hairstyle concepts. She liked them. In fact, nobody had done that before. A lot of clothing designers do that, but not so many makeup people at the time did that. I always did my homework and I believe in the old school Hollywood style of business, and that meant when you present an idea, the idea is on paper because number one from a business standpoint of view, it’s already copywritten to you if it’s on paper as an artist, so it’s intellectual property basically. What I did is I submitted that, she liked it, and then I went in for for an audition where she actually met me and then I did her makeup. After being received and welcomed as a makeup artist on the tour, I went shopping, of course, for the kind of makeup we were going to use on tour because I wasn’t just working on Janet; I was working on the dancers as well and there were two other makeup artists. We had three trunks : one was standup chairs and lights, the other was makeup and then the other was hair. TVM: So you are a do hairstylist, too? Nzingha: I did at the time, but I don’t do that anymore. I like to go in and go out. I want to do it picture perfect and get out. With hair, you have to have to be consistent with that because you’re not just styling the hair; you want the client to come in so you can treat the hair, so that you can continuously work with them and care
for the hair. I didn’t want to do all that; it’s too much drama for me. I wanted to concentrate. TVM: Let’s talk about your creative process. You were a makeup artist for a huge music video, the Moulin Rouge music video with ‘Lil Kim, Mya, Christina Aguilera, and Pink, which you even got an MTV Award for. That’s incredible. They had very bold, colourful makeup. So tell me about the creative process behind that. Nzingha: I was not the only makeup artist on that project. It was really a collaborative effort in dealing with the director and what his vision was and how we would come in as the Glam Squad and help to convey his message. What I thought was really interesting was that there was three of us. There was Joanne Gair, Billy B and myslef. It’s crazy because music videos are really different from doing a movie in the sense that the pace of it is very different. Joanne was primarily in charge of Christina. We all agreed that each person had their person because there was no way we could all work on four women, have one person work on four women on this type of project, so we agreed that there would be two other people on [the project], and each person would be assigned to specific people and take care of them. We decided to go with colours, bold colours, because that’s what [the director] was presenting. He wanted to mimic what was going on in the actual film, and the actual film was really colourful; it was a brothel style. They were madams, so what would a madam look like in that particular timeframe? It
was a period piece. We went over the top with rhinestones and four separate trailers, and those were just for the artists. There were makeup trailers and wardrobe trailers. It was fantastic. So Joanne was doing something with Christina and her makeup, and I had the same idea for Kim. So I wound up changing the makeup as a courtesy to Joanne and to Christina, and to Kim. But basically, I came up with preliminary sketches and makeup concepts and threw them on the table, which is usually what I do. TVM: You just mentioned that there’s a difference between shooting a music video and a film because the pace is different. What about shooting a music video and being on tour with someone? Tell me about the pace of that and how it’s different. Nzingha: In a music video situation, you know exactly what’s going to happen; you’re given a treatment, equivalent of a movie script. With the treatment, there are concepts that are written down and everybody that’s on the crew is in agreement with the treatment for the music video. A music video may last one day to maybe three or four, depending on what they’re trying to do. When you’re doing a music video, it’s like a mini movie. The difference between a music video and a music tour is that a music tour is a live situation, which means anything can happen. There’s a set look for a tour, which is usually set up by the artist, the set designers, tour managers.
When you go in, you know you have a set look of what you’re going to do and that look doesn’t change, but it moves faster than a music video because it’s live. It’s very fast-paced, you may have an artist that has several wardrobe changes. With those wardrobe changes, you’ve got to be in the quick-change room ready to change them in a second because they may only have a second. So they’re ripping off clothes, you’re powdering, wardrobe is making them naked, the hair department is pulling their hair or putting on a wig, everyone’s doing something to this one artist in a few minutes and in those few minutes, you’ve got to make it right so that they can go out on stage and continue the show as if nothing ever happened, like they never even changed. TVM: Sounds so chaotic! Nzingha: It is chaotic, but in that chaos, when they come out on stage, that audience never sees any of that. All they see is a seamless show. A music tour is almost like Broadway. Those two, I would say, are very similar. And I worked on Broadway, as well. TVM: Very cool. So what do you love most about being a makeup artist? Nzingha: I think really the thing I love most is to be able to create, to tell a story, and to help the artist tell their story, whatever their story is. Every artist is different; we’re all fingerprints, but the thing that’s similar about a makeup artist and a singer is that we’re all symbiotic. No, I don’t sing on stage, but when people look at the [artist], they see me. They see my art and my art helps her convey her art. So we are symbiotic. We’re telling the same story. TVM: Very beautiful. And what’s a makeup artist’s biggest challenge? Nzingha: Time [laughs]. When you’re on tour, being in the quickchange room, you’ve only got a little bit of time to make it right. It’s like if I’m working on the artists’s eyebrows and the hair stylist is pulling on her hair and all of a
sudden, the eyeliner drags across her face, and now she’s got a unibrow! So time, I think, is what we’re all beating. TVM: Has a little ‘oops’ like that ever happened to you? Nzingha: Usually, the ‘oops’ happens before the shoot, so we can clean everything up beforehand. I’ve worked with some hairstylists who’ll pull that head back and there you go, she’s got lipstick on her chin. Some crazy stuff, but it’s always a rhythm and the artist is also involved in the rhythm of the process of putting on the makeup, putting on the hair, putting on the persona, because it is a persona. TVM: What’s a trend that we can expect in the near future? Nzingha: That’s hard to say because a thing that may be accidental may become a trend. So to put your finger on one thing or another thing, you can’t really say. Trends usually come out of what people go « ouh that’s nice, I like that, I want to do that ». That’s usually what a trend is. I could be wrong about that, but I feel like that’s what happens. I’ll give you an example. When I did Mary J. Blige’s « Not Gon’ Cry » video, it was a song from a soundtrack. This was kind of like an off-shoot of what was going on because Mary was telling this story of this particular character in this film, which was Angela Bassett’s character. It was about her going from a worm to a butterfly. She was in a very dark place at one point and then all of a sudden she became this beautiful free woman and that free woman, she was gorgeous. You see one scene where Mary has her head covered. She has on her sunglasses and what everyone believes to be black lipstick - it really wasn’t black, it was eggplant which is a dark purple. In the second scene, you see her in these warm beautiful neutral tones and she has her hair up and she looks very queenly in the second scene. She looks queenly in both scenes, but the one that struck everyone. Her in this dark sheath and these glasses and the dark lipstick, that became a trend. Now mind you, I
didn’t have [this lipstick colour], I created it from my own pallette. It didn’t exist on the market. So I created this colour and then all of a sudden, I see Yves Saint Laurent has a lip gloss in noir! And then all the rage was women wearing this black lipstick. I knew that the goth kids did it in modern times, but in Africa there’s a tribe that wears a colour that’s very dark and similar to what we think black is with the natural eye. And that’s age old. That’s been for centuries, long before Mary J. Blige came around, long before folks decided they were going to be goth. This was age old, so I didn’t do anything that was new. I just revamped it for this particular time and in that particular story. That became a trend. Mind you, nobody’s matched it yet because I created it. You have to get into my mind first in order to get that colour, because it’s a combination of colours. TVM: What advice would you give aspiring makeup artists? Nzingha: My advice to makeup artists, is check your integrity. Check your flippin’ integrity. Because if you’re in this to get famous, your integrity is off, and you’re not an artist. I like to go back to the art; I came into this industry because I love the art, I love music, I love musicians, I love the storytelling. So my integrity is not broken. I didn’t comm in this to be famous. I came in it to paint and for the love of artists and art. That’s what I came in it for. Everybody wants to be famous, but there’s a politics that goes with this artform and this industry. So you coming in as a novice wanting to be famous and throwing your integrity under the bus, you’re not going to win that way. How you win is you keep your integrity by being an amazing artist. I was a pre-law student, so you never know where this life is going to take you, and if there’s anything else that I can say to another artist is that if another door opens up, and it’s not necessarily what you think it’s supposed to be - because I never really inteded to be a makeup artist, but it
presented itself - all I say is that you be excellent at whatever it is that the open door presents itself for; don’t be mediocre. Life can change and your interests can change over the course of time. So you’re set in one thing right now and it’s working for you, but if another door opens up for another type of career, go through that door because a lot of the singers that I’ve worked with, I wound up working on movies with. Who knew that they were going to become an actor? Working with Queen Latifah, working with Will Smith, I didn’t know they were going to be actors; I’m sure they didn’t think about it either. But look at where they went in their career. So now they have the opportunity to be that amazing actor, but they also have the option to go back and record an album, because that door was already oepened to them. So you never know how this life is giong to work, and if the doors are open, just be excellent at whatever it is that your’e going to do. People don’t miss the boat, but they’ll miss their opportunity because they’re afraid. Fear and timing are huge elements. TVM: What can we expect from you in the future? Is there anything else you would like to accomplish in your career, or any exciting projects you’re working on? Nzingha: That’s a whole lot, honeybunch. I have a secret not-so-secret passion, which is I love to cook. TVM: On your social media, I noticed all your pictures and your recipes. You’re a foodie! Nzingha: I’m beyond a foodie. I actually auditioned for The Food Network. They were looking for home chefs, so I came in and I auditioned. They didn’t call me back, so it’s fine. My family is originally from the British Virgin Islands. We have a mango farm and ultimately, I’d love to retire back home and have my restaurant where I serve Caribbean-fusion food. I’ve also cooked for some of my artist, by the way and they love my food. That’s what calms me down and brings me to a whole other place. I love to cook. So you could look for a cookbook or maybe a show.
VANNELLI is an incredibly multi-musical; he is well-versed in various musical styles and genres, and these clearly permeate every atom of his music, from“I Just Wanna Stop” which has a jazz-rock feel, to the more balladesque “The Last Dance”. He has a talent for producing hit songs and throughout his entire career sought out new inspirations, opportunities and modes of expression, even publishing a book in 2010. None of his albums resembles each other and Vannelli’s songs truly come through as music without borders. Interviewed by Malik Shaheed, Vannelli, talks about his career, his thoughts on the changing music industry, and his white-boy ‘fro. By Malik Shaheed - Edited by Anna Kroupina Credit Photos: Gino Vannelli
Malik Shaheed: Our guest today is an international music icon, Juno award winner, Grammy nominee. I am honoured to welcome to the show Mr. Gino Vannelli. How are you Gino Vannelli? Gino Vannelli: Fine, Malik, and you? Malik Shaheed: I’m great thank you. You have an amazing career and I had a chance to listen to a lot of your singles and I honestly never knew you sung those songs. Amazing. I want to take you back to your childhood. I want to know the influence that your father had on you, because he was a cabaret singer, right? Gino Vannelli: He was. He was actually headed to be a big band singer in the late 40’s, early 50’s and he decided not to continue on with this career; he decided to go into the hair salon business. Malik Shaheed: What did your father warn you or tell you about the music business? Gino Vannelli: Oh well, he was a little bit bitter about it. He had signed some bad contracts and he was a little sceptical about it, whether it was even possible to really have success that maybe if fate didn’t choose you, it wasn’t going to happen. As a boy I wanted to prove him wrong. I thought it was really about putting the right foot forward and just doing it and it being a mission in your life. I quickly found out it wasn’t the way he said it, but it was an instinctual feeling that I had inside myself. Malik Shaheed: You studied music theory and drums at a young age. Did this help you build your self esteem and confidence in any way? Gino Vannelli: It was more than building self esteem and confidence; it was gaining knowledge. By the time I was nine or ten, I was playing drums and I was taking lessons. I took lessons for five or six years. I was playing at a place called Casa Loma as a relief drummer on various weekends. Then
I took piano lessons and I took guitar lessons and I furthered my theoretical knowledge. And then I went to Mcgill for a year; I figured my calling was somewhere different. I continued on with the lessons with private teachers. In 1998, I started again with a new vocal coach here in the Northwest and you never really stop learning. Malik Shaheed: I mean, I know at a young age you also had an interest in Italian opera, classical music, French impressionism, 20th century Russian composers; where do all these interests come from? It’s rare for someone at a young age to have these types of interests. Gino Vannelli: Well, it’s simply great music and difficult music to play and to compose, but fantastic music to listen to. It’s true art songs and art music. It really puts you somewhere when you listen to some of the classical composers or the English ones, or the Copelands or Samuel Barbers of the 20th century, you’re really listening to masters of their work. You have to listen to it and learn from it. Malik Shaheed: So for you, at a young age, it’s really important to master the craft unlike a lot of people today who just want to jump into the game without really learning the craft. Gino Vannelli: Yea, there’s no fun in that. If you get lucky enough to have success, what then? Then you run around with your head cut off not knowing what to do but if music is your first love, you just keep searching and digging deeper into that well and you keep listening and you keep trying things. Right now, I’m working on a new CD. It’s got a little of French Impressionism in it, but it’s really basically an Americana-driven Blues album with jazz elements and classical elements to it, but the drive to it is really Americana and Blues. Malik Shaheed: It’s called the music business, which means you
need to know the music and the business. At 16 you signed with RCA Records under the name Vann Elli. How much did you know about the business side of the music at that time? Gino Vannelli: Oh not very much. I was one of those characters that had a real combination of totally blind ambition. I was just a constantly flowing volcano. I did have a certain amount of common sense, so that certain amount of common sense kind of led me to the right places eventually. I really made my share of mistakes, but it was really a learning process, especially when I moved to New York, I learned a lot. Malik Shaheed: Talking about moving to New York, you had a unique encounter with Herb Alpert of A&M Records in Hollywood. Tell us about that encounter and how it changed your life. Gino Vannelli: Well, Herb Alpert was co-owner of A&M Records and A&M Records, for those who are perhaps too young to know, A&M Records was one of the biggest independent record labels in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. They had great acts, anyone from Joe Cocker to Cat Stevens, to Carole King and to Quincy Jones and to The Police and so forth, so they were quite a prominent label. In the early 70’s, I was an admirer of Sergio Mendes. I thought that The Carpenters made some good records and I liked Quincy Jones’ records. I thought that it perhaps could be the label for me. I had been in Los Angeles for about four months and I decided I was just going to park myself in front of the gates A&M and wait for Herb to come out of his office and he did, and I just ran through the gates and I accosted him. Everyone was a little bit shaken and shocked, but eventually we because friends. I auditioned for him 30 minutes later and I started recording for A&M Records a month later.
â€œI had been in Los Angeles for about four months and I decided I was just going to park myself in front of A&M and wait for Herb to come out of his office and he did...â€? 149
“There’s no way to write a song, there’s no way to create a record, there’s no way to move a career unless you can close your eyes and say ‘this is where I want to be and this is what I want to do...” Malik Shaheed: So you had the hustle and go-getter mentality? Gino Vannelli: Well, I don’t see how else someone could do it. There is that thing that an artist must have to take something from nothing and make something out of it, so you get it from literally thin air. You imagine it into existence or it can’t be done. There’s no way to write a song, there’s no way to create a record, there’s no way to move a career unless you can close your eyes and say ‘this is where I want to be and this is what I want to do’ and then you go about it judiciously and methodically, correcting the elements that help you achieve that dream. Malik Shaheed: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I read also that from 1974 to 1978, you recorded six albums. Is that possible? Gino Vannelli: Actually, I recorded six albums from 1973 to 1978, yep. Malik Shaheed: Wow! So they had you working in a studio, and you were touring also, right? Gino Vannelli: It was a time that I was touring 100 to 150 nights a year and when I wasn’t on the road, I was in the studio. I used to write on the road. Any little quiet that I could snag, I would use the silence to start writing. I did have a lot of energy and my ambition served me very, very well. I just kept coming up with songs and coming up with records. Malik Shaheed: Let’s talk about the involvement of your brothers in your career. How involved were they in your career and was it tough working with family members? Gino Vannelli: There was always a bit of sibling rivalry left over from the early days, but Joe and I got along well musically. He was an integral part of the band, arrang-
ing and producing with me. We co-arranged and co-produced a lot of records. My brother Ross, he was the live engineer in those days, and then Ross started venturing on his own as producer and of course wrote “I Just Wanna Stop”, which was a big hit for me. Now, my brother Ross really takes care of all my production and management. Malik Shaheed: Ok, so talk to me about the mind-frame that you were in when you wrote that song and what influenced you, what touched you, and made you write that song? Gino Vannelli: Well let’s see, I liked that Little Anthony & the Imperials song “Hurt So Bad”. I used to play that when I was a kid when I was 13, 14 [years old]. I wanted to write a Little Anthony & the Imperials kind of song, and I thought “Hurts To Be In Love” was sort of like that, but then when it was done and we performed it, it came out quite differently. Malik Shaheed: What about “Living Inside Myself”? Did you write that one or did you co-write it with your brothers? Gino Vannelli: I wrote that. Malik Shaheed: So talking about that song, that’s another humongous song. I just discovered that you were involved with these songs. It’s amazing! Gino Vannelli: I wrote it as a first single for my first release with Arista Records. I remember being at a Christmas party given by kind of a big magazine owner in Benedict Canyon near Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. I think it was the day before or day after Christmas. I wasn’t having much fun at the party, so I asked the host of the party if he had a piano and I went I think it was the third floor and there was a little upright piano there, and
I just started banging away and I just came up with “Living Inside Myself” that night. Malik Shaheed: I’m just curious. When I listen to your music, it has so much substance. What are your thoughts on music artists today? The songs you hear on the radio, what are your thoughts on it? Gino Vannelli: Well, there are certain select artists that continue writing. I think that a lot of Blues or Bluegrass artists, or some Americana-style still have real content that is interesting to me, storytellers. But overall, the stress in contemporary music is really not on perfecting songwriting. It seems really that the real pinnacle for songwriting, as far as songwriting we both know, is sort of late 60’s, early 70’s, mid 70’s and that was really the era of singer-songwriters. It’s hard to say, but like for instance songs like “Close to You” or “We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters, or “For All We Know” and then “Wild World” by Cat Stevens or “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor, or “So Far Away” by Carole King, or I mean really, the list goes on. Leon Russell you know, “This Masquerade” or Elton john “Your Song”. Those were such incredible songs. You can see that they are still played today, a lot. Artists have a hard time, or writers have a hard time achieving that songwriting. There was a certain kind of cultural depth that we were achieving that we were going through that really the songwriting reflects, so I would say some of the lack of songwriting skills is really a cultural phenomenon. I suspect it will come back, just like I believe the Steinbecks of the world, the great novel writers, you know sprung up in the Great Depression.
“The real enemy not only to an artist, but to anybody is to grow dull and to grow dim and also to not be challenged by life and to not see it as an opportunity...” Malik Shaheed: You answered my next question, which was what kind of advice you would give to song writers, so you already answered that. Thank you very much. Gino Vannelli: It’s really important that songwriters stick to it. I would also suggest to songwriters don’t model yourself on the half songwriters; model yourself on full songwriters. Listen to Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hammerstein, George Gershwin, Lennon–McCartney. Listen to the best songs and compare your stuff with those songs. Of course, we live in a different era. You can write about what pertains to our society today, but as far as the craft of songwriting you know, the emotion curve ad the musical curve, the rise that you get and the prologue and the epilogue and all that kind of stuff that comes through in three to four minutes, they really had it down, so let them be your teachers. Malik Shaheed: You won Juno awards. You’ve been nominated for Grammy awards. What do you feel is your most memorable moment winning a Juno award? Gino Vannelli: I can’t say that any one means the most to me, but I suspect that with “Black Cars”, I won for Producer of the Year and then we also won for engineering, Engineers of the Year. That was a bit of a chuckle only because that was the first album we recorded in Joe’s bedroom. So of all the albums I had before recorded [in] 10 million dollar studios, the most expensive studios, of the seven albums before that, I never received
such an award in Canada and it was very ironic that I should receive an award with an album that was recorded in Joe’s bedroom. Malik Shaheed: So it’s all about the chemistry, not exactly where you’re at? Gino Vannelli: It really is about the chemistry and the final product, you know - how you get there. Malik Shaheed: What was your most memorable Grammy nomination? What do you feel most proud of? Gino Vannelli: I think I lost that to Barry Manilow in ‘78 or ‘79 and it was memorable because I just remember being there and meeting a whole bunch of people and a lot of people liking what I did and shaking hands, and thinking that it was kinda cool to have arrived there. That’s really about the extent of it. Malik Shaheed: Do you ever really look back and think ‘wow, I was a guy from the east-end Montreal and I’ve accomplished all this? Do you ever say that to yourself? Gino Vannelli: Once in a while, I feel a little bit that way, but really mostly I kept looking forward and in my younger days wanting more and more and more and as I got a little bit older, it wasn’t a question about wanting more and more, it was wanting to go deeper and deeper and accomplish something that was even more artistic. That seems to be the quest these days. Malik Shaheed: Also, you were the first Caucasian person to perform on Soul Train. That must have been a wonderful feeling, an honour. Gino Vannelli: It was an honour
in the sense that the 70’s was the decade after the civil rights movement and it’s when we started really implementing what everybody was hoping for. I thought it was really exceptional that Stevie Wonder would invite me personally to replace Chaka Khan on seven or eight of his shows during a tour in 1974. I was really honoured, but I also told Stevie, I said “I don’t know, am I going to get killed?’. He said ‘no, my audience is cool, they’ll dig you’. He was so cool that he came out many times before I came out, and he kind of presses my coming on, so he was very gracious. It was a successful tour for me. So successful that I was in my hotel room I think in Texas before going on and Don Cornelius, who was the head of Soul Train – he was the host and the owner of Soul Train - and he gave me a call and asked if I would make an appearance. ‘Hold on’, I said, ‘Don are you aware that I’m white?’ Don said ‘well, I kinda consider you off-white’ so I said ‘well of course, I’d like to do your show’. So we did something different; we went on his show and I asked ‘would you mind if we do a live version of “People Gotta Move”?’ and he was very gracious and he said ‘cool, do what you like to do’. That really helped my career a lot. In the beginning, in 1974, my first success came on the R&B on the black charts and black TV. “People Gotta Move” was a Top-20 R&B record way before it was a Top-20 Billboard record.
Malik Shaheed: So that market, the urban market, did they know that you were Caucasian? Gino Vannelli: I’m not sure if they knew or not, but I think it was a combination of a few things. The music, first of all. It had a kind of funkier, more adventurous and more rhythmic element to it which urban or black music definitely had much more, especially in those days, than pop music. So that’s one element. Number two, vocally, I kind of leaned towards more R&B singer, a little jazzified, a little soul singing more so than Caucasian pop singing, at least for the early or mid ‘70s. And then thirdly, it was maybe my sort of Italian afro ‘do had something to do with it, I don’t know. Malik Shaheed: You had an afro though, so you looked more like a brother. Gino Vannelli: Well, it wasn’t really a plan to afro. I just was the way my hair was. I wore my hair a little longer and it just never went down, it grew towards the sun. So it maybe had something to do with it. I think there was another undercurrent. The undercurrent was in the ‘70s, I think people were making an honest effort to build bridges between races and I was part of that little wing nut in the bridge. Malik Shaheed: You’ve released so many albums, “Crazy Life”, “Brother to Brother”, “Storm at Sunup”, “Powerful People”, “Black Cars”, the list goes on. But I want to take you to 2005. In 2005 you had a chance to perform for Pope John Paul and you got a call from the Vatican. It was because of a song that you dedicated to your father. Do you want to tell us about that song and what inspired you about that song? In those lyrics, are there things that you never got a chance to talk to your father
about? Gino Vannelli: It was a little earlier, it was in 2001 and it was a song I wrote called “Parole Per Mio Padre”, which means ‘A Word to my Father’. The storyline is basically about after you’ve left, let me tell you how I’ve missed you and let me tell you about some of the regrets I have as your son. It’s kind of an emotional and personal piece. The Pope hear that song, liked it and the Vatican gave me a call and asked me to perform it. So I did. I brought my family to the Vatican and performed that song with the Rome Symphony for the Holy Father. And I got to meet him, too, which was really a trip. Malik Shaheed: Was that one of the biggest highlights or moments in your career? Gino Vannelli: I would say next to my son being born, it’s probably up there. Malik Shaheed: Did you guys get a chance to exchange any words? Gino Vannelli: Absolutely, yes. About 15 minutes. Malik Shaheed: So how was he as a person? Gino Vannelli: Well, he was a little bit sick, but he looks at you really straight in the face. He just talked about doing good work, bringing everything that you have inside of you to the outside as best you can and he asked me how my family was, and if my father was living. He told me that he liked the song. Little things like that. He spoke right into my ear. Malik Shaheed: After all this success, you decided to pull away from the game around 1990 and move to Oregon. Why was that, and why Oregon? Gino Vannelli: Well, I had enough of Southern California. I wanted to experiment, so I moved to Portland just because I wanted to make a lit-
tle change and I didn’t realize that I would end up living here for this long a time. I built a studio and I recorded the jazzified album called “Yonder Tree”. It has always been about looking for the next inspiration because in ‘06, ‘07 and ‘08, I lived in the Netherlands for that time. And that really inspired me to do other things. I was looking for inspiration, so my wife Tricia and I decided that the Northwest might be cool for a while. Malik Shaheed: Interesting. What I like about the conversation we’re having is that you’re always looking for a challenge and new feats to always keep you going. That’s really cool. Gino Vannelli: Of course, because the real enemy not only to an artist, but to anybody is to grow dull and to grow dim and also to not be challenged by life and to not see it as an opportunity to see, to swallow, to experience and to understand and to accomplish something that you say ‘wow, that’s really cool, I really like this’. Life becomes very interesting. The only bad thing about it is that it goes by too fast. Malik Shaheed: Do you remember doing your first music video? Gino Vannelli: I think we did a video in 1976 or 1977, “Love of My Life” or something like that. Then we did “I Just Wanna Stop” as a promo video in ‘77, ‘78 and then all of a sudden MTV hit and videos became the big thing and now they’re no longer that important anymore. See how the cycles really changed? Now people do videos just for their profile maybe to put on YouTube or something like that. People don’t spend their days watching videos on MTV anymore because we have computers and social networking, that is a little more interesting to people.
“Meeting a lot of very famous people and how famous people react to other artists. It’s very curious...”
Malik Shaheed: You had a chance also to put a book out called “Stardust in the Sand”. Knowing the type of person you are, what possessed you to put this book out and why the title? Gino Vannelli: “Stardust in the Sand” is really, the allegory is there’s always a bit of magic, even in mud. And that’s what it is. Even in the lowliest places and kind of the, even in the trash bin, you might find a gem. And life is like that. My journey in life was looking for gems in trash bins. I have always been unafraid to go into plac-
es that other people didn’t like to go to, lived in places where people didn’t want to live, did things that other people didn’t really want to do. I always found it really interesting for me and always came up with some kind of gem, so that’s the title. I wrote it because I really wanted to give an account as to my feelings, how I perceive myself, my family, friends, musicians, the world in fact, around the times that those songs were happening, that people know me by. It might be at least entertaining if not a little bit insightful to some people, espe-
cially the last chapter with “Godlings and Feet of Clay”, meeting a lot of very famous people and how famous people react to other artists. It’s very curious. Malik Shaheed: Gino, I asked for 20 minutes, we’re going on 30, and I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity and The Vocalist Magazine the chance to interview you. I want you to keep on doing what you’re doing. Again, I want to thank you for this interview. Gino Vannelli: My pleasure, Malik.
SISQO Inspired by artists such as R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Boys II Men, and Jodeci, prolific writer, producer and all around R&B heavyweight Mark Andrews aka Sisqó or The Dragon, has been a consistently positive force in a genre known for its ability to strike the heart of any listener. Sisqó began singing at a very early age in his native of Baltimore, Maryland and along with high school friends, he formed super group Dru Hill. After a victorious journey to the Apollo Theatre in NYC the group was signed to their very first record deal and after a misstep or two, Dru Hill broke out onto the scene with their platinum selling hit, Tell Me and the group has never looked back. Sisqó took the multiplatinum success formula with his band mates and made a mark on his own with two extremely successful solo albums, Unleash The Dragon and Return of The Dragon. With a resume like that under his belt one would think the singer was anything but humble, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Possessing a voice that radiates warmth, a great sense of humor, and an overall kindness, the father of two gave The Vocalist Magazine a detailed account of his rise to fame, vocal practices, and much more. Reunited with Dru Hill and touring with the group whilst simultaneously working as a solo artist, Sisqó is a very busy man. Hard working, dedicated, and persistent, The Dragon, who adopts Bruce Lee’s philosophy, likes to be like water and keeps it (the music) flowing. By Nana O. Yeboah - Credit Photos: Sisqo
TVM: I have the pleasure of speaking with multiplatinum, multitalented recording artist Sisqo. Sisqo, how are you today? Sisqo: I’m great, I’m great. I love that intro; I need to hire you for my shows. TVM: Laughs, that sounds great... new job prospect! Laughs. Before we get into your voice, your music, and all that good stuff, could you tell our readers about how you began in the music industry? Sisqo: Sure. Back when I was still in high school, myself and my friends had formed the group Dru Hill. We basically did everything we could; singing at every and any venue they would allow us to sing. We would sing for discounts on food, clothes, etc. While we were singing everywhere, around the age of 14, we took a bus trip with a lot of the aspiring artists in the Baltimore area to New York to sing at The Apollo where we won. Shortly after that, we came home and met our manager Kevin, who ended up getting us our first record deal; actually Dru Hill and Destiny’s Child were signed simultaneously. But apparently the label didn’t feel that we were right just yet so they kind of set us on the shelf for about 2 years. We got out of that record deal a little bit discouraged, so we decided to stop singing R&B music and we became a gospel group. Then a business associate that Kevin found, asked us to return to New York to sing for another record executive and, at the time, we were uninterested and burnt out at such a young age. I mean, we thought we were signed the first time and we thought we were gonna have an opportunity to break out in the music industry when we were in high school. Needless to say, the first time, we went back to school all ‘hey you, I never liked you and now I got a record deal peace...’ TVM: Haha! Sisqo:...and then we got set on the shelf so we went back to school the
following year and it was like ‘yeah what happened to that? I thought you had the big record deal’ (said in a mocking tone)... TVM: Hahaha! Oh no... Sisqo: ...yeah, needless to say, we had to eat crow! This was actually how I learned humility as an artist today. So when Kevin asked us to go through all of this again, we were totally turned off and didn’t want to do it. But he was all ‘just sing for this guy, if nothing comes out of it, I’ll never bother you again and you can sing whatever you want to sing’. So we were like, okay. We met with the record executive and he played the song Tell Me by Dave Hollister and from one listen we sang it back to him. Everyone was impressed and then he asked us whether we liked the song and if we could see ourselves singing it and we were like ‘hell yah!’ He said it was ours but on one condition, if we signed to his label. We signed a makeshift post-it contract and recorded the song that night. The song became our first platinum single and we’ve been in the music industry ever since. Needless to say, we were blessed. TVM: I remember that song and how much I loved it; great story, thanks for sharing. In terms of your voice, how would you describe it? Sisqo: Hmm, well I’m a musician and I was taught to use my voice like a trumpet player uses their trumpet, so I do the best I can to use my voice like an instrument. Depending on where you put that instrument, it can be anything to any song. I do the best I can to manipulate my voice for whatever the music calls for because music is alive, you kind of gotta move with it; if you get in the way of the music, you could ruin the flow of the music so you just have to do the best you can to move with it... which is actually ironic because it’s like a dragon which is what they call me...
TVM: Haha! Oh yah! Sisqo: Chuckles...so basically I go with the flow of the music and do what the music suggests. TVM: What things do you do to keep those vocal chords in mint condition? Sisqo: Oh...it’s one of those things that you gotta work on. Wanya (Boys II Men) he basically told me that your voice is your instrument and you have to take care of it by doing the best things for it and be aware that something that is good for you may not work for everyone. For instance, I used to smoke but there are some artists who can smoke and still sing but for me, I chose to stop smoking. I don’t drink soda or any kind of alcoholic beverage before a performance, I do the best I can to stay away from dairy products and I also keep my hotel room or should I say lair... haha, (furthering the notion of the dragon)...hot; cutting off any air condition and turning up the heat protecting my voice even in the summer time all before a performance. So I basically do the best I can not to do anything that can be abrasive to my voice. TVM: Okay, do you have a regular routine, or is everything just before performances? Sisqo: Oh it’s a pretty regular thing, luckily we perform frequently. I’m somewhere different pretty much every week. TVM: What helps you stay in such great physical condition and do you see a connection between that and your voice? Sisqo: Well, I don’t know...I mean, for me, I do my best to stay on a health regimen of about 1200-1500 calories a day but I’m not sure if that would work for everyone. I had actually gained weight for a movie and I found that it negatively affected my performance. Other people thought that I sounded the same but I felt that it was not my best.
“I’m a musician and I was taught to use my voice like a trumpet player uses their trumpet...”
“We met with the record executive and he played the song Tell Me by Dave Hollister and from one listen we sang it back to him...”
TVM: Are you currently in Canada? Glenn: Yeah, it’s good to be home. I just got off the road on a pretty intense month of promo for the single and for the album. But it was beautiful! I had the opportunity to travel to cities I haven’t been or haven’t been in a while. Needless to say, it was very cool. TVM: How does it feel to be back on the road? Glenn: Ah! Awesome. The funny thing about it is I love making music and I love performing live— I’m passionate about it, but I also love to travel. I wasn’t always the social guy. I was kind of an introvert when I was younger. But now, I love meeting different people and learning about different cultures. I get to do a job
where everything is connected. TVM: At what age would you say you discovered your passion? Glenn: I would say 14. Expressing through music was just kind of cool ‘cause it was the use of melody and words, and you can find interesting ways to construct statements. It’s all interpretation. TVM: Is it true you entered a talent contest in high school? Glenn: I did! I figured it be a cool even if I didn’t have any talent at all. So I sang “I Just Called To Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder. This was when I was attending
“When you’re singing a song that people know and...they sing along with you...that is an amazing experience.” TVM: Which do you prefer most, recording in the studio or performing live? Sisqo: I don’t know...I love to create but performing live is a whole other beast. It’s not really a ‘most’ thing because I can’t really say which one I prefer because I love them both. It’s awesome to create, even if you’re singing material that’s written for you, you can make it your own and that’s always a magical experience. But when you’re singing a song that people know and you go on stage and they sing along with you that’s great and even if you sing a song that nobody knows, you get to see them being into it and that is an amazing experience. It’s all relative; I just love to sing period. In the studio, on stage, in the shower or the mountain tops, it’s all the same to me! TVM: You’ve managed to achieve longevity in the music industry; which is something that few artists can accomplish. Do you have any advice for any up and coming artists who strive towards your level of success? Sisqo: Consistency seems to be the hallmark of an artist. Regardless of the business aspect of your craft, make sure to always be sure of yourself and be in tune with the music that’s in your heart and keep that alive no matter what you’re doing in the music industry even if you’re singing locally. TVM: What are some of the projects that you have in the works? What should we look out for? Sisqo: Well, I still perform regularly with Dru Hill all over the world in addition to performing as a solo artist. I mean, singing with Dru Hill I only sing songs from the group; I don’t really sing any Sisqo songs and then when I’m solo, I only sing my songs and no Dru Hill songs. I also just went into the studio and started working on my third solo album, Last Dragon, so I’m diligently in the studio now after putting my solo career on hold for several years to focus more on Dru Hill and getting back together after going our separate ways. If anything changes, you’ll be the first to know, laughs, but as of right now, that’s pretty much what it is. TVM: I’m a huge believer in speaking things into existence, that being said, I was wondering where you see yourself in 5 years? Sisqo: I’m a firm believer in that as well. In 5 years... I don’t know...well if I’m in the dragon’s lair right now, I guess in 5 years the dragon will be flying. Laughs TVM: Laughs Okay...good answer...very metaphoric. Sisqo: Laughs TVM: What do you feel differentiates you from other artists? Sisqo: I think it’s an amalgamation of a glass of the realness and creativity of music because I’m not afraid to explore; I do the best I can to stay out of a pot. I’ve sang R&B to Country and everything in between. The idea is very much like Bruce Lee’s philosophy that we must be like water... TVM: So you’re an extremely versatile artist who strives to adapt to any given situation, very interesting. Sisqo: Oh yeah. Well put water into a glass; it becomes the glass, put water into the ocean; it becomes the ocean...for me as an artist, I’m like water. TVM: If any music fan unfamiliar with Sisqo went to your concert, what would you want them to come away with? Sisqo: When they walk away, I hope that they would think ‘man, that boy can sang!’ Not s-i-n-g, sang! TVM: laughs. Thank you so much for your time Sisqo and all the best in the future with your solo career and with Dru Hill. Sisqo: Thank-you.
DIVINE BROWN By Nana O. Yeboah Credit Photos: Divine Brown
“I love what I do which alleviates some of the hardships and the challenges that come with being a solo artist. Um, a challenge being a female solo artist...” TVM: I have the distinct pleasure of speaking with a juno Award winner, Soul/R&B artist Divine Brown. Divine, how are you doing today? Divine Brown: I’m really good, outside of being a little under the weather, I’m good. TVM: That’s good, um, how would you describe your voice? Divine Brown: Wow, powerful, virtuosic meaning that it’s pretty versatile and it’s honest. If a voice could be honest, I think my voice is honest and raw. TVM: Interesting...how would you describe your music? Divine Brown: My music is soulful, there are some jazzy elements to it, again, it’s raw, and it’s honest. I love mixing it up with the r&b, the soul, and the pop, with old school and new school flavours, but the old school is definitely a huge part of who I am. TVM: At what age, would you say that you discovered your passion? Divine Brown: I always knew I wanted to be an entertainer, so, it’s difficult, cause I always say at birth. I just always knew. In the 70s as a baby, artists would come on the TV and I would just be bouncing. I heard the stories of my mom taking me to Jamaica into a little bar or tuck shop, and as soon as I would see a juke box I would start begging her for change and play whatever song over and over. When she’d run out of money, I’d go to the owner (laughs). TVM: (laughs) very resourceful little girl (laughs)! Divine Brown: Yeah. I mean, I just knew what I wanted to do.
TVM: What moves you to write songs and is there a particular song that you feel most proud of? Divine Brown: My life experiences and the song that I’m most proud of is like saying, ‘pick your favourite child’ if you have one. So I have a lot of songs that I really loved writing, it’s hard, I have so many favourites. TVM: Do you have a top 5 maybe or a top 3 perhaps? Divine Brown: Well I really liked Sunglasses, I like the process of writing that because it was so random the way that the inspiration hit. That song by Corey Hart was in my head for, like, two weeks and then I asked my Capoeira instructor what sunglasses was in Portuguese and then I just kind of developed the song from what he said. Sometimes it can be so random. Lay It On the Line, I was talking about a real experience that I have been through, you know such a good friend of mine I saw picking the wrong girl over and over and over again, wishing that he would just take a chance on me. Of course Old School Love too, I love it because it was a very organic inspiration that happened. It just kind of came to me and just kind of flowed in the studio and I just took a bunch of ideas in my head and amalgamated them into this song. TVM: What challenges do you face as a solo artist? Divine Brown: Oh, there’s so many! Where do I start? I’d love to be more recognized outside of Canada and that’s been a huge challenge but I’m still truckin’ forward,
I love what I do which alleviates some of the hardships and the challenges that come with being a solo artist. Um, a challenge being a female solo artist, especially with a producer and songwriter sensibility that I have is having my ideas being heard. Producers who will trust my vision and bring it to fruition are very rare. TVM:Who influences you vocally? Divine Brown: I have a lot of influences. It’s really interesting because a young male vocalist, approached me and told me he was heavily influenced by me. He said that someone told him that if he listened to a lot of female artists it would give him more of an interesting sound. The thing about that is that I listen to a lot of male vocalists. Now, don’t get me wrong, I listen to a ton of female vocalists but, I was influenced a great deal by the male vocalists that I listen to. On the female side, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Denise Williams, Minnie Riperton, and then on the male side people like Al Green, D’Angelo, Cee-Lo Green, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Will Downing, Howard Hewitt, Glen Jones... these are people from way out... (starts singing) do you know him? TVM: No, I’m not familiar. Divine Brown: How about Howard Hewitt? (starts singing) TVM: No, but I wish I did, that sounds like something I’d definitely get down with! Divine Brown: (keeps singing and smiles).
TVM: What is your overall vocal regime? Divine Brown: (laughs), I’m lazy so I’ll use the first two sets of my performances to warm up and then I’ll murder it in the last set. TVM: Really? Divine Brown: (laughs) Yes! TVM: I’m very surprised to learn that. Divine Brown: (laughs), listen, I try to steam often...I really had to force myself to do so. I find that hot yoga, bikram more specifically, is fantastic for my voice because it expands my lung capacity and helps me with being able to hold notes for a very long time. I find that bikram has been essential to helping develop that. TVM: When would you say that you are vocally at your best? Morning, afternoon, or evening? Divine Brown: Evening. Like late afternoon/evening. Like I said, I’m lazy, so I use talking all day to warm up (laughs) and by the time it’s show time, I’m raring to go. TVM: Does that really help? Divine Brown: No (hahaha)! TVM: is there any difference for you between recording in the studio... Divine Brown: ...and singing live? TVM: Hmm hm. Divine Brown: Big time. I love singing live, I don’t love singing in the studio because I’m not comfortable. Over the years, I have become more comfortable and I don’t know what it is whether it be experience or confidence that changed. I mean, there are certain things that I can only do live that was more difficult for me to do in the studio. Like runs for instance, I love messing with runs live, much harder to do in the studio, I have to really think about it...I don’t know why that is but it’s becoming easier. TVM: Wow. What is your aim when you perform? What do you want your fans to take away from your performance? Divine Brown: Oh my goodness, I just want them to walk away feeling like they had a better day than when they walked in to see me sing...that, for me, is the biggest thing. I wanna touch people, I’m not doing my job if people aren’t reacting, I gotta dig deeper and that’s kind of my Ithing, I gotta dig deeper until I get a reaction from people. I mean, Montreal has one of the best crowds. I mean, you guys are so appreciative of good music.
TVM: You have such a confident stage presence, is there anywhere you channel that confidence from? Divine Brown: Maybe it’s experience that has built that confidence up, also, I think that God implanted something in me at an early age. I’ve taken some chances as a kid and I feel that I need to take some chances now as an adult that you have to have a lot of confidence to do. TVM: Do you think that what you eat affects your voice? Divine Brown: Yes. I can’t eat poutine before a performance, boo! But, you know, I try to stay away from poutine anyway because it goes straight to my hips. Cheeses and carbs are bad because I wanna sleep, so I try to keep it lean meat and vegetables before a performance. TVM: How have your vocal practices changed since you first began recording till now? Divine Brown: I think because my voice has developed more and become richer over the years, I’m able to do more with it and now I can do what I have envisioned to do with my voice pretty effortlessly. TVM: What is a typical rehearsal like for you? Divine Brown: A lot of fun and silliness...(laughs), in the midst of getting work done. TVM: Describe a challenge you constantly face in your practices. Divine Brown: Well, when I’m doing vocal exercises, my voice changes from day to day. It’s frustrating cause some days I can hit super high like whistle-tone register and some days I can’t. Some days I’m like, ‘oh yeah, I can do it’ (starts singing), and then I get on stage and it’s not happening. So it just depends. TVM: Do you feel a connection between your physical and vocal workouts? Divine Brown: Big time, the two are synonymous with because being and staying active is what helps me to maintain vocal strength. TVM: How regularly do you workout vocally? Divine Brown: I don’t really have a routine. Most vocalists would tell you that they don’t really have a routine.
“I try to stay away from poutine (french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds)
anyway because it goes straight to my hips...” 169
â€œI really view my voice as an instrument and I use it that way when I get into a performance...â€?
“I gotta pick up myself and leave to pursue my dream’. Whatever it is that you feel you need to do, do it no questions asked and have faith to follow that path....”
TVM What do you like about your voice? Divine Brown: I really like how I have a deep speaking voice but I sound different when I sing, I like the range, I like the versatility, I like being able to cross genres so that the change is effortless. TVM: What do you feel differentiates you from other vocalists? Divine Brown: The fact that I see my voice as an instrument, it’s not that I’m just out there singing notes, I really view my voice as an instrument and I use it that way when I really get into a performance and I think that’s one of the things that makes me distinctively different. TVM: In today’s competitive music industry, what does it take to pursue a singing career and what advice would you give to those who want to be vocalists? Divine Brown: A lot of heart, drive and fearlessness. You gotta be fearless to be able to say, ‘I gotta pick up myself and leave to pursue my dream’. Whatever it is that you feel you need to do, do it no questions asked and have faith to follow that path. You definitely need a lot of faith and determination, cause you’re going to hear ‘no’ a lot. TVM: Where will Divine Brown be 5 years from now? Divine Brown: No idea. Hopefully, I would have won a Grammy within 5 years. TVM: Fingers crossed! Divine Brown: Yeah. TVM: Thank you so much for your time Divine, it was a pleasure speaking with you today and we’ll look out for that Grammy! Divine Brown: Thank you.
MARTINA Singing since the age of 3, piano and vocal since she was 5, Mia Martina knew that singing was her career from a very young age. From St. Ignace, New Brunswick a very small town of a little over 600 people, Mia knew that home wasnâ€™t the place to realize her big dreams. At the age of 17, she left her hometown for the bigger city lights of Canadaâ€™s capital city to attend Carleton University where she studied psychology and sociology. While at university, she began to intern at CP Records as an administrative assistant which she did for 2 years before anyone was aware that she could sing. Mia decided to give her boss her demo, he loved it, put her immediately in the studio and the rest is history. A talented vocalist who uses her demure vocals against the syncopated beats of the dance music genre, Mia took some time out of her hectic schedule to speak with The Vocalist Magazine. By Nana Yeboah - Credit Photos: Mia Martina
TVM: I’m speaking with Juno nominated recording artist Mia Martina, Mia how are you? Mia Martina: I’m wonderful and you? TVM: I’m great thanks for asking. Before we get into the interview, random question, where were you when you first heard your voice on the radio and what were you doing? Mia Martina: I was actually picking up my dry cleaning and all of a sudden I hear my song on the radio. I freaked out! I ran to my car turned on the radio, called my mom... TVM: (laughs) that definitely sounds like something out of a movie. Mia Martina: Yeah, I mean, for a girl like me from a really small town of 500, it really was a dream come true. TVM: Who were some of your vocal influences while you were growing up? Mia Martina: I would say Mariah Cary and Whitney Houston for sure. Sade, Michael Jackson, as well as anyone who has big vocals like Celine Dion...I was very captured by their vocals as well as how they were able to perform with such emotion. TVM: How would you describe your voice? Mia Martina: I have a 7 octave range, which is pretty cool and I use a lot of the falsetto and sweeter side of my voice; I don’t use all of the other elements because I feel that it is really my sound and I can deliver that emotion to the listener. It’s very soft and airy but I can still kill my ad-libs, I have a pretty powerful voice. TVM: Nice, what is it about your voice that makes you stand out as an artist? Mia Martina: My tone is very youthful and I know when you hear me on the radio my soft, sweet voice with a lot of emotion and power can be heard and I think that’s what makes me stand out. I’m very influenced by other cultures and I love to incorporate that into my sound.
TVM: Interesting, do you have a regular vocal routine? Mia Martina: Yes, I have a vocal trainer, Lorraine Lawson and she really takes my voice and works on it. I have to sing everyday as a singer, it’s like anything else, you have to exercise it daily because the more you do it the better it gets. TVM: What are your top health practices that you find, keep your voice in great shape? Mia Martina: Definitely lemon and honey in tea; I do this before every performance, it makes my vocal cords feel great. Another thing I do is run and sing at the same time, always drink room temperature water, and always wear a scarf. TVM: Since one of your tips was that your run on the treadmill in addition to singing, it’s clear that you believe that there is a connection between physical and vocal workouts... Mia Martina: Totally. TVM: How physical workouts affect your voice? Mia Martina: I feel that it builds your stamina for your performance so you don’t become out of breath. Also, it helps with energy because when you’re on that stage rockin’ it out, you don’t get tired. TVM: Speaking of performing, which do you enjoy more, performing live or recording in the studio? Mia Martina: Well I can’t choose. To be honest, because they are both great. The studio is amazing because that’s where you create your art. It’s such a beautiful experience to go in with no expectations and walk out with a great song. On stage you get to connect with the fans and that is the best feeling ever. You get to see people reacting to your music...singing every lyric with you and it’s indescribable. For me, they are both really special, I can’t give you just one. listening to you.
TVM: What is the one thing that you would want your fans to take away from your performance? Mia Martina: I definitely want them to be entertained. I want them to leaving being like wow, this girl puts on a really good show...I felt every one of her lyrics. TVM: In today’s competitive music industry, what do you think it takes to make it? What advice would you give? Mia Martina: I feel that because it is a very tough business and you really need to work on all aspects of your craft; your music, live shows, etc. You really have to be firm in what you want and believe it and work; it’s more than just singing a song, you have to be ready for the performance, for the interviews, for this and that. You have to be willing to do it and believe in yourself, be really involved in your own career because at the end of the day no one can make it happen but you. TVM: So basically you think it’s vital for people to be involved in their own dreams coming true and not just leaving it in the hands of others? Mia Martina: Yes. TVM: Great advice. In terms of style, what are your thoughts on style being an important part of your artistry? Mia Martina: I mean your style is you. I wear what makes me feel good and with me, what you see
is really who I am. Through the years I’ve discovered that if you wear something you’re not feeling, you won’t be able to pull it off right. Your style can really boost your confidence so that you’re ready to rock that stage. TVM: Where do you see your career going 5 years from now? Mia Martina: I hope that it continues in the direction its going and that I can become more international and I can keep touring the world. I’d like to do more collaborations, make more albums, you know, just continuing. TVM: Who’s your dream collaboration? Mia Martina: I would love to do a song with Sade. She is my ultimate dream collabo because I’m such a big fan of hers and I think we would create a crazy song. TVM: Cool, good taste. Earlier in the interview, you had mentioned that you play piano, can we expect you playing on your records in the future? Mia Martina: Definitely, piano, acoustics...I’m working on doing stuff like that because I really enjoy it. TVM: Thank you so much for your time Mia. Mia Martina: My pleasure, you’re such a sweetheart.
“It’s more than just singing a song, you have to be ready for the performance, for the interviews... You have to be willing...and believe in yourself...”
There’s a special kind of satisfaction you feel when overcoming barriers to reach a goal. Elise Testone can probably describe that feeling very well. She spent a solid ﬁve months focusing all her passion and efforts to writing, recording, arranging, mixing and producing her debut album “In This Life”, lined up for release in January 2014. It will be released independently under Elise’s own record label, Red Tambo Records. The ﬁrst released single “I Will Not Break” reached a satisfying 15th place on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Chart when the song ﬁrst debuted. She was also featured in a charming and catchy commercial for Charleston, which was voted Best City in the U.S. in 2013 by Condé Nast Traveler. Elise is an über talented and ﬁerce gal who proves that you don’t need to sign with a major record label to release an album. All it takes is passion, perseverance, and a purpose
By Anna Kroupina - Credit Photos: Elise Testone
“I’ll do something called lip trills because it’s for breathing...”
TVM: Since American Idol, you have never stopped performing, writing and singing. What are some of the shows or performances you’ve done since the Idol tour? Elise Testone: Never. After the tour, I was invited to New York City to headline the Columbus Day Parade; that was really cool. There was about a million people on the street. Then I was invited to sing the national anthem at the Major League Soccer Cup for 30 thousand people. I sold out a few shows in South Carolina, like at the Charleston Music Hall where there was close to a thousand [people]. These were shows that I produced and arranged with a 10- to 12-piece band playing mainly originals, with a few covers. I’ve played mainly up and down the East Coast, like Maryland, New York, [Washington] D.C, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Philadelphia, Texas, Nashville. I’m excited to be sponsored to go up to California in January to play at this huge tradeshow called NAMM. They’re sponsoring me to play every day by myself in between everybody’s showcase, which is pretty crazy. I also produced and recorded my album for about five to six months in between touring and that is going to be released at the end of January. TVM: Growing up, you had a lot of musical influence from your dad, who collected and repaired jukeboxes – your childhood must have been very musical. Who are your musical influences? Elise Testone: The jukeboxes were very influential because when he was upstairs, he was constantly blasting records. [I’m influenced by] a lot of old school stuff and a lot of rock as well, like Prince, the Beatles, Queen, Tracy Chapman, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Bob Dylan. TVM: You also work as a vocal coach, right? Elise Testone: I did. I still do some [teaching] here and there, but I did that full time before Idol. Before Idol, I basically never slept. I needed a personal assistant. With all the guys in the band, we played
sometimes 11 gigs in one week – and these are like three-hour shows - that were within the East Coast. I also taught voice lessons four weekdays during that time so some days, I would have five hours of teaching and then two threehour gigs so I wouldn’t get home until like 3:30 AM and then have to do it all over again. I hustled and I worked really hard. I earned those jobs; I set up the equipment, I broke it down, I hired the band... so I got a lot of experience. I have a music degree from Coastal [Carolina University], where I studied every option of music - Broadway, theatre, opera, different languages, gospel, choir. TVM: You just mentioned your education. Do you think that it’s mandatory or necessary for a vocalist to have a musical education? Elise Testone: I wouldn’t say that it’s mandatory, but you should at least learn how to use your body so that you don’t damage it or start developing bad habits; I think that’s really important because it’s easy to do that. I see kids do it all the time. They emulate singers that they hear on the radio and they copy that, but their brain translates it differently, so they move their mouth or they use their body in a different way because they’re not understanding how the older adults in the TV make that sound. So I think it’s important to understand how your body works, but there are a lot of people in the past, a lot of legends who have not studied music at all - and they’re legends. TVM: As a vocal coach, what’s the biggest bad habit you see vocalists make? Elise Testone: They’ll push from their throat too hard, or they stick their chin out to reach for a note. That puts a lot of strain on the vocal chords. [It’s important to] warm up the muscles before you perform a show. It’s like if you’re going to run a marathon, you would stretch; you wouldn’t just run 20 miles and never work out, never stretch and never get those muscles ready to go. It’s the same thing [with sing-
ing]. So people don’t do that, and then they scream and they force the sound. You can develop calluses on your vocal chords. A lot of people also, they sing kind of nasally because they don’t understand how to use breathing. TVM: What do your vocal practices consist of? Elise Testone: I start with breathing exercises to be really cautious of my breath, and I also do a lot of humming. I actually did some before I called you. I’m fine when I go to sleep, but when I wake up, I have like no voice, so I warm up before I talk. It’s weird [laughs]. I also hum real slow. That’s one of the first easy things I do in the morning because it slowly gets your muscles to move every way that they’re supposed to. Usually, your vocal chords are in one position closer together and as you go higher, they stretch out. So my vocal chords, when we talk, are in a comfortable position because we use that part the most. You want to stretch really high gradually so that they’re flexible when you hit those notes. TVM: Prior to hitting the stage, what do you like to do? Elise Testone: I’ll do something called lip trills because it’s for breathing. I also do a lot of humming and then I do fast vocal runs just to be precise and make sure that I have the control over my voice and then, I joke around a lot because I want to be in a happy and positive mood, so I joke to take off the nervous energy for myself and the band. TVM: Are there certain types of foods that you avoid by all means before performing? Elise Testone: With me personally, dairy affects me differently. I wouldn’t have a lot of fried foods, dairy or sugar. I do have my one drink of bourbon. I really like to drink water with cayenne pepper, lemon and honey. That always gets the inflammation down in your vocal chords and it cuts through any phlegm on your throat.
â€œMy goal with the album was to show every style I can do without it being schizophrenic; I still want it to be cohesive...â€? 185
TVM: Do you find certain foods enhance or diminish the rasp in your voice? Elise Testone: Say I made a bad decision one day and I had too much bourbon or ate a bunch of crap first thing in the morning and then I sing my butt off for four hours I would probably develop a new level of rasp. I always had a deep voice when I was little, but that kind of stuff, over time, contributes to the raspiness. How much I sing more blues and how much I’ve sang at a young age [affects my voice as well]. As long as it doesn’t go away, we’re good. TVM: How confident do you feel on stage, and what tips do you have for other artists who are struggling with this? Elise Testone: Honestly, the most important thing is to own the song and own what you’re doing. I think that accepting – not consciously thinking about it, but knowing that no matter what you do, one person’s going to accept you and one person isn’t. Knowing that you’re just singing from your heart and from your soul is all you can do. I feel the happiest, my best self, on the stage. I feel even better when there’s more people in front of me, but I can’t wait until people hear my album. I feel like on American Idol, the one thing that was a struggle was consciously knowing that I’m about to be judged. You’re judged every day, but knowing that sometimes they might want the show to go in a different direction, so you might get a little bit more judged that day. I think those days are really hard so I learned from that, not to hold onto this, and to just let it go if someone’s judging you. Be in the moment, be in the story of the song, and that’s all you can do. Just do the best you can. TVM: I read that you’ve been song writing since you were 18 years old – where do you find inspiration for your songs? Elise Testone: Honestly, I think that I’ve written songs since I was like five, I just never wrote them down, I didn’t know I was doing it. But yeah, I started finally recording
them when I was about 18 and most of those songs were from, I have to say, a sad place, like a heartache. My album probably reaches more women aged 25 to 35, but I would say that I really think it reaches everyone in some sort of way. I can’t wait. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. Have you heard the single yet? TVM: Yes, I heard “Still We Try” and “I Will Not Break”, which came out in September and “I Will Not Break” is actually kind of an anthem to staying strong and surviving tough times – what does this song mean to you? Elise Testone: To me, it’s saying that life is full of challenges. You’re constantly being challenged and it’s just about staying strong and not letting things define you. When I wrote this song, I was sitting in a motel in L.A. and I was really sick. I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I was so sick; I couldn’t get up. I was just practicing, finger picking and trying to get better on the guitar because I always want to be good at everything. I just opened my mouth and started singing along. Most of the time, when I write songs, it comes from a subconsciousness. If I have a feeling that I have to get out, if I move my mouth with vowels shapes and sounds, my subconsciousness turns a sound into a word. TVM: And you also produced the whole album yourself, right? Elise Testone: I did. You know when you’re just so excited about something and you can’t believe you did it all by yourself? I’ve never done that before. To have the ability to go into the studio and really embellish the ideas that are in my head and work on them until I hear them, is the most rewarding, butterflies-in-my-stomach kind of experience. In “I Will Not Break” for example, I’m playing acoustic guitar and I wrote all the cello parts. I didn’t play the cello, but I wrote them and then [someone else] played them. Then I made the arrangement and told the piano player what to do and out of about eight takes, I chose the best parts
that I liked. It was about [organizing] it together so that it all flowed within itself. I also went in the studio with a sound engineer every day until it was finished for maybe about 12 hours a day. I mixed it with him, so he actually taught me a lot about the sound board as I was doing this because I knew what I wanted and I knew how I wanted this to sound. He let me tweak and turn it up and figure out how to dial it. So we actually mixed it together, too, which is really cool. TVM: Now that you’ve both performed live and recorded in a studio which do you prefer? Elise Testone: If I didn’t perform live, it’s like not breathing; I have to sing. I noticed that if I don’t sing for a few of days, I’ll be kind of depressed. TVM: What can we expect from your debut album “In This Life”? Elise Testone: My goal with the album was to show every style I can do without it being schizophrenic; I still want it to be cohesive. It’s all a story. I thought about the sounds and the influential genres which influenced each song. They kind of all melt into each other. The first song has got like a blues, Tom Waits-feel, so I took some essence of that and forwarded it into the next song which is “Still We Try”, which has kind of a blues feel and then that goes right into another blues-rock song, and that helps go into an R&B sound. It’s really cool. There’s a single on there called “Can’t Get Enough” and the ending is influenced by Steely Dan in a way, because there’s so many layers of instruments. It took me an extra 24 hours just to mix the last few minutes of the song. There’s so much going on, but you want to mix it just in a way that it’s not hitting you in the face and you don’t know what’s happening. You want to lower the cello part here so that you can hear the guitar part, and then lower the guitar part so that you can hear the flute part. There’s a lot going on, so it’s really thought out.
TVM: I also wanted to talk about the song you recorded with Darius Rucker – what was it like working with him? Elise Testone: We didn’t duet in the same space. I actually sent it over to him when he was in Chicago and he sent it back and then I mixed it. I just directed and told him what to sing and where it went and then I removed my vocal for where his vocal would go. So I didn’t get to sit with him, but I’ve worked with him before on live shows. He threw a show in Myrtle Beach at the House of Blues and I sang with my band on a Sunday and on the Monday, Hootie and the Blowfish performed and he had me close out with him. They played “Whole Lotta Love” and I sang it. Then I sang “Use Me” by Bill Withers with him. I [mentioned] that I wrote an album, and he was like “Oh, you should get me on it” and I was like “actually, I have this perfect song. I wrote it as a duet.” So he loved it but it’s so weird, we can’t release it [because] his record label won’t let me use it commercially. You’d love it. It’s so good! His voice really just brings it to life. TVM: What are some things you’d like to accomplish in the near future? Elise Testone: Something I’m slightly losing sleep over is getting on a good booking agency roster. If I want to play at festivals, I have to book that before Thanksgiving. I have some shows booked, for sure, but I have big pictures in my head. I just have these huge goals and I get anxiety if I don’t fulfill these visions. My plan is to tour. Hopefully, I can tour from March all the way to September, or even more. I have some things booked – I’m going out to L.A, California, and then, I’m actually playing at a festival in Costa Rica. Pretty excited about that. Everything I’m doing is very independent. Some of the bigger corporations, they have different opinions about it. I did form a label called Red Tambo Records. I’m doing everything basically out of pocket by myself for the most part, with some help from the people who love me. It’s really, really really rewarding, I have to say. TVM: Releasing it independently, what are some of the major challenges you’ve faced? Elise Testone: The main [difficulty] is going to be, I think, distribution and making sure the word’s out there, but I’ve spent a lot of time online and there are sites that distribute digitally. I’ve also started working with a PR company that will help me get me radio tours and press tours and stuff like that. The main thing is that I won’t be in any major record stores like Best Buy or corporate stuff, but I don’t think that will make or break it, because everything is so digital now.
JONNY LANG By Anna Kroupina - Credit Photos: Jonny Lang
The Grammy-winner released his first solo
album titled “Lie To Me” in 1997 and get this - he was only 16 years old. Since then, he has come out with three other solo albums and much to the anticipation and excitement of dedicated fans, he released his new album “Fight for my Soul” in September 2013. It has been seven years since his last studio release and although “Fight for my Soul” may have lost some its gritty bluesy edge, the guitar star has remained true to himself, his music, his virtues, and his ragged, rugged, raw vocals that scream “Jonny Lang” . A few days before my scheduled interview with him, his manager got in touch to inform me that he was struggling with his voice due to a cold and as a result. Two and a half weeks later came around and I get another email from his manager, informing me that he had two teeth removed and I took a rain check for four days later. I was starting to fear that my interview wouldn’t happen, but third time’s a charm, right? Much to my exuberance, the interview did happen this time and The Vocalist Magazine had the pleasure of talking to a multi-platinum musician that has been dubbed a child prodigy, guitar master and virtuoso. TVM: Congratulations on your new album “Fight for my Soul”. It’s been seven years since your previous studio album and a lot has changed for you – you now have a family! What’s it like being back out on the road touring? Jonny Lang: Well, nothing much has changed logistically with the touring itself, other than from time to time, the family gets to come out on the road. We get a bus just
for the family. Maybe for a week or two, we’re able to do that at times, and then they have to go back home. It’s not quite long enough, but it’s something, anyway. It’s the only downside to what I do - it’s not being able to see them all the time. At least when I get to go home, I get to be there and completely just relax and be at home with them...I don’t know if relax comes into it TVM: This ties in to something
else I wanted to ask, which is what the biggest challenge has been in your music career. Would it be being away from your family? Jonny Lang: Yeah, I think so. We try to do no more than a week and a half or two weeks away from home at a time, and then I have a break. It’s a long time, but at least it’s not months, which it could easily be. There’s no way to really balance it; you just do it.
TVM: In the past, you’ve cited artists like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder who have influenced your music. Who influenced this particular album? Jonny Lang: I don’t know if there’s a direct influence there, or just one, anyway. I think that for me, this record probably speaks to more of my influences than any other record, like [it speaks to] James Taylor and Stevie Wonder maybe more so than past albums. Just as a songwriter, I felt a little less inhibited on this one to just go ahead and make whatever music was coming out of me without being cautious of what other people might think about. TVM: Where do you find inspiration? Jonny Lang: It’s just something that happens. I’m not one of these people who can just sit down and write a song at will. It just has to kind of happen and seemingly, out of nowhere, inspiration comes to write music. Lyrically, some of the lyrics are about things I’ve seen in life, or things that I don’t like, or things that I do like, just life stuff. I try to make the lyrics relateable to people and hopefully, somebody listening can hear that that’s me and hopefully it can be a blessing to somebody. TVM: What do you want listeners to take away from your music? Jonny Lang: Whatever it is that they need. It can hopefully be whatever it needs to be, for whoever. I know that at certain times of my life, music has been that thing that has helped me through a certain time or has even changed me fundamentally a couple of times. So I think that if it could be that for somebody else, it would be awesome. That’s kind of the goal for me. TVM: The track that really struck me, lyrics-wise, was “Fight for my Soul”. The lyrics are just really sad, but with a glimpse of hope. Where did that whole idea come from? Jonny Lang: I was staying at my house, just playing and I kind of stumbled on a chord progression for that and it’s weird, music will
take me to certain places. Sometimes, I’ll just get an image in my head and I had this image of this little girl just growing up on the street. That’s how the song grew. Hearing those chords made that image pop in my head and that’s the direction that the lyrics started taking it. There was no story or anything that influenced it; it was just sitting around making music. TVM: Is there a particular song that you feel most proud of? Jonny Lang: Yea, I think “Seasons”, which is I think the second to last song on the record, and “I’ll Always Be” are the two that I’m most proud of. TVM: Why is that? Jonny Lang: Just songwritingwise, I felt like “Seasons” is just about as cutting edge for me as a song can be arrangement-wise, lyrically, and the whole thing. I’m pretty proud of that one. TVM: Do you work with a vocal coach? Jonny Lang: No, I don’t. I did years ago. Years ago, I went for a couple of days to this guy and he really helped me but ever since then, I’ve been coach-less. TVM: So do you have any vocal practices that you like to do? Jonny Lang: I warm up probably for an hour or two before the show and then after the show, I warm down. Those two things have saved my voice over the years. Before I did those things, I would lose my voice quite regularly. Those two things, combined with learning how to sing a little bit more correctly, have helped me. TVM: What is a warm up and a warm down like? Jonny Lang: It’s hard to explain, but it’s basically, I do these little siren vocal things where you start as high as you can in your falsetto and you go all the way down your range. I try to do that through every vowel until for each of those vowels, I can make it all the way down the scale without my voice cracking. When I’ve done that, I know I’m pretty warmed up at that point. TVM: How have your vocal practices changed since you first be-
gan recording and performing? Jonny Lang: Oh yeah! I used to not have any vocal practice of any kind. Years ago, it used to be a cigarette before the show - that used to be the warm up. TVM: What do you like to do right before a performance now? Jonny Lang: There’s no ritual kind of deal or anything like that. Becoming dressed like three minutes before the stage call, round us up and some of us will be out of the bus, some of us will be in the dressing room. It’s pretty ordinary. TVM: When you perform, you look like you have so much confidence. How did you develop that confidence, and what tips can you give to other performers who are struggling with their stage presence? Jonny Lang: That’s definitely something that just came over time. For the first couple of years, I was scared to death to be on stage and I just stood in one spot. Somewhere along the line, I just felt this liberty to go walking around the stage and it just went from there. It’s nothing that I really practised or choreographed; it’s just a natural thing. Sometimes, I don’t move around as much as others. [I do] whatever feels right. TVM: You were sick recently and my interview with you was postponed. Touring is just so heavy on performers with so much travel and strain on the voice. Can you recommend anything to vocalists as to how they can stay healthy when on tour? Jonny Lang: My doctor told me to wash my hands like crazy to try to not get sick and since I started that, I get sick a lot less. We were in Europe doing five nights a week there, and then we flew back home to Houston and did a show right away. Your body can only take so much; you’re just going to get sick sometimes. [What I’d recommend is just doing] pretty normal, “taking care of yourself” stuff.
“Music has been that thing that has helped me through a certain time or has even changed me fundamentally a couple of times...”
TVM: I saw this video of your son singing to Justin Bieber! Do you have any hopes that your kids will follow in your footsteps? Jonny Lang: If that’s what’s in their heart to do, then yes, but I don’t know - we’ll see. They all do love music and they love to sing, so I think that they’re very musical, but I don’t know if that’s going to be their passion in life. If it is, I’ll be there to help them out with it, that’s for sure. TVM: You’ve had tremendous success and longevity in your career, and we see a lot of artists that are successful get eaten alive by the industry, and kind of controlled by the industry. What tips do you have for artists out there, and aspiring artists, to keep their feet on the ground and remain so seemingly down to earth, as you have? Jonny Lang: That kind of control is just perceived; I don’t think that it actually exists. Our intentions and our motivations are not able to be controlled by somebody. As long as you’re doing what you’re passionate about and you’re doing it for some good, solid reasons - like you love it and things like that - people can’t take that from you. You could argue that you are successful already, just because of that. If you want to have success by how it’s measured by other people that you see on TV or hear on radio, then yeah, you definitely will open yourself up to somebody else’s control to try to get you there, but it can happen anyway and it can happen on your own terms. It depends on how driven a person is and how much ability they have to just keep carrying on, even after failure. It’s all up to us. Nobody controls our destiny. That’s what I think, anyway. TVM: What can we expect from you in the near future? Is another album in the works? Jonny Lang: Yeah, definitely. I started writing for that already, so yeah, it’s not going to be seven years again. It should be much, much sooner than that.
MALIK SHAHEED Founder and Host
EAT TO THE BEAT Youth Stars Holiday Benefit Lunch 2013 @ Buonanotte Eat To The Beat 2013 was a big success. Over 250 kids attended. Each and every one of them left with presents and a smile on their face. We would like to thank once again, Malik Shaheed, his team, Buonanotte and, the sponsors for making this a memorable event and holiday. 196
Up Coming Singer KHATALIA KORAHGAY MARIE-PHILIPPE CREVIER Event Coordinator
A premiere, intimate venue for music and art, this licensed Plateau district establishment also serves as a cozy bistro and cafe, serving coffee, sweet treats, breakfast, light lunch and late-night snacks. Local, regional and national music acts are showcased. Address: 5490 St. Laurent. Telephone: 1 514 509-1199
Located on rue Saint-Denis in an area full of popular French bars and clubs, Pub Saint-Ciboire is popular among fans of Quebecbrewed beers as it offers 12 local lagers and ales on tap including Blanche de Chambly, Belle Gueule and Boreale. For a very Quebec experience, visitors can try out a tasty Quebec brews while watching one of the local bands that play at the pub on a regular basis. Address: 1693, rue Saint-Denis Telephone: 1 514 843-6360
House of Jazz
A landmark since 1968, this live music club brings the best of emerging regional artists and well-known international jazz performers to downtown Montreal. Louisiana-style culinary offerings are featured, in addition to extensive cocktail selections and terrace dining. Address: 2060 Aylmer St. Telephone: 1 514 842-8656
This concert venue in downtown Montreal has a capacity of 2300 people and often gets packed to the rafters during performances by artists such as Beck, David Bowie, Ben Harper and Jean Leloup. When not being used for a show, the venue transforms into a nightclub. Address: 59, rue Sainte-Catherine Est Telephone: 1 514 844-3500
Open in the early 80s, Club Soda has since become one of Montrealâ€™s busiest and most popular venues. Aiming to give new artists and producers of all performance genres an audience, the clubâ€™s stage has been graced by many now-famous performers such as the Tragically Hip, Jann Arden, Soundgarden, Chris Isaak, Oasis and Canadian comedy troupe Kids in the Hall. Address: 1225, boulevard Saint-Laurent Telephone: 1 514 286-1010
Filled with local in-the-know music fans, Club Lambi is one of the venues for the Pop Montreal indie music festival. The club boasts a friendly atmosphere and hosts up-and-coming and on-the-verge bands and artists. Address: 4465, boulevard Saint-Laurent Telephone: 1 514 583-5098
Live music, art exhibitions, weekend brunches and comprehensive cafe and bar services are hallmarks of this downtown bistro, which features menus of comfort foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Address: 1832 Ste-Catherine E. Telephone: 1 514 564-4440
La Casa del Popolo
La Casa del Popolo is not only a fair trade cafe offering light snacks. It is also a bar, a live music venue and a gallery. Address: 4848, boulevard Saint-Laurent Telephone: 1 514 284-3804
Nestled in the historic quarter and offering live jazz performances seven-nights-a-week, this bar and restaurant features a menu of Mediterranean-inspired selections, extensive cocktail offerings and large-group menu options. Address: 1 St. Paul St. West. Telephone: 1 514 287-9582
local rock acts as well as bands from across Canada and the US. The club also hosts DJ nights when the music played includes hardcore, punk, rock, alternative and old school depending on the night. Address: 2031, rue Saint-Denis Telephone: 1 514 844-1301
Since the 1920s Theatre Plaza has worn many hats. From a bowling alley to an illegal Asian karaoke bar. Today it boasts a newly refurbished look and hosts and hosts some of the hottest bands around. Address: 6505 rue. St-Hubert Telephone: 1 514 278-6419
Located in the Dominion Theatre, a heritage building constructed in 1913, La Tulipe is a former movie theatre that is now used as a concert venue. Visitors can expect to see rock shows, French-speaking singers, jazz concerts and musical reviews. Address: 4530 avenue Papineau Telephone: 1 514 529-5000
La Sala Rossa
Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill
Run by the same people as Casa del Popolo (and located right across the street), La Sala Rossa is a restaurant serving Spanish tapas and paella as well as a weekend brunch. The club portion puts on a range of entertainment including cabarets, breakdance competitions, live bands and more. The venue often hosts some of the world’s most popular indie rock bands. Address: 4848 boulevard SaintLaurent Telephone: 1 514 284-0122
Having moved to rue Prince-Arthur after receiving noise complaints from the neighbours at the previous location, Cafe Campus is better than ever with three floors and live shows that see the club packed to the rafters. The venue also puts on theme nights such as retro Tuesdays, Blues Wednesdays and Francophone Sundays. Address: 57, rue Prince-Arthur Est Telephone: 1 514 844-1010
One of Montreal’s many live music venues, Cafe Chaos presents
Located downtown and a vibrant venue on Montreal’s jazz scene, this bar and grill features nightly live music and a menu of North American classics. Extensive cocktail offerings and late-night dining services are available. Address: 1254 Mackay St. Telephone: 1 514 931-6808
Home of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, the Bell Centre also hosts a number of big-name music artists making stops in Montreal during world tours. Past and futures bands and performers at the Bell Centre include The Cult, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, Madonna and U2. Address: 1260, rue De la Gauchetiere Telephone: 1 514 790-1245
Bar Chez CloClo
Located in the Plaza St-Hubert district, this casual bar and lounge features live music acts, karaoke nights, social dancing and DJ dance parties. Address: 6944, rue St-Hubert. Telephone: 1 514 727-0308
An alternative club with style, Les Foufounes Electriques features two beer gardens, three dance floors and a daily happy hour that lasts from 4 pm to 6 pm. The club hosts live rock, hardcore and industrial bands and also puts on club nights such as GoGo Tuesdays, Under Attack Wednesdays, Sweet n Sour Thursdays and Electrik Saturdays. Music includes alternative, old school punk, rock n roll, hardcore, hip hop, 80s rock, pop and ska depending on the night Address: 87, rue Sainte-Catherine Est Telephone: 1 514 844-5539
Le Divan Orange
Le Divan Orange is a newcomer on Montreal’s live music scene but has nonetheless become a favourite among those looking to discover some cool new talent. The club hosts both English- and French-speaking bands that represent a range of music genres. Address: 4234, boulevard SaintLaurent Telephone: 1 514 840-9190
Grumpy’s is a live music bar that offers different themes each night of the week. Various nights include 80’s Goodness Sundays, Grumpy’s Happy Mondays, Jazz Night open jams on Wednesdays, Moonshine on Thursday bluegrass and old-time jams, live bands on Saturdays and more. Address: 1242, rue Bishop Telephone: 1 514 866-9010
Le Theatre Corona
Le Theatre Corona is mainly used for theatre performances and musicals but also occasionally hosts popular bands Arcade Fire. Address: 2490, rue Notre-Dame Ouest Telephone: 1 514 931-2088
Live music is the hallmark of this club, which showcases an eclectic mix of performances, including reggae, hip-hop and world music. Daily happy hour and nightly DJ dances are also hosted. Address: 4328 Boul St-Laurent. Telephone: 1 514 987-1174
Le Petit Medley
Live, local talent hits the stage weekly at this casual pub and lounge, which features complete bar services and a menu of pubstyle favorites. Complimentary wireless Internet is also available to patrons. Address: 6206 rue St-Hubert. Telephone: 1 514 271-7887
Le National concert hall presents a range of local and international music artists and bands. The popular C’est Extra and Pop 80 nights are held, here and the space can be rented for special events such as concerts, product launches and corporate parties. Address: 1220, rue Sainte-Catherine Est Telephone: 1 514 845-2014
Located in the heart of Plaza StHurbert, this casual lounge features a weekly line-up of live jazz performances, an ambient social atmosphere and extensive bar services. Address: 6289 St-Hubert. Telephone: 1 514 272-3753
In addition to operating as a tea house, this casual bistro also features dining for lunch and dinner and hosts weekly live dinnermusic events. The on-site boutique also carries an extensive selection of tea sets, tea pots and other brewing essentials. Address: 1348, rue Fleury Est. Telephone: 1 514 384-5695
MUSIC EDUCATION McGill University - Schulich School of Music Description : Intensive and complete jazz program, including theory and practical instructions. Wide variety of venues to perform, including McGill University and various restaurants & jazz clubs.
Université de Montréal
Description : Our jazz program distinguishes itself in that it not only takes into consideration jazz music from the 1940s to the 1970s but also, fusion and contemporary jazz music from the 1970s to today. A number of styles are thus covered, such as ragtime, swing, be-bop, hard-bop, free-jazz, acid-jazz, funk, fusion, latin, etc. The program follows the evolution of jazz all the while adapting to the new styles that can attach themselves to these. Of course, the blues and the jazz standards remain the classic repertoire and the basis of teaching.
Université du Québec à Montréal - UQAM
Description : We have a jazz guitar & jazz vocal ensemble, a latin combo, and a jazz history course. UQAM offers a popular music program allowing a vast array of musical styles (popular song, jazz, world music, rock, folk, country, etc.)
University Laval - Faculty of Music (Québec)
Description : We offer popular and jazz programs including piano, bass, guitar, drums, trumpet, trombone, saxophone & voice.
University of Sherbrooke - Faculty of Music
Description : Our jazz program allows students to perform standards, to improvise, arrange, compose, teach and use the technology.
University Bishop (Lennoxville)
Description : Jazz & blues guitar...standards & jazz repertoire 1930-2000, improvisation & combo coaching + jazz history in a small, friendly & relaxed atmosphere, jazz concert(s) & masterslass(s) with invited artists every year.
Cégep Saint-Laurent (Montréal)
Description : It’s tradition, the diversity of it’s ensembles, the recording studios & the music department of the Cégep de Saint-Laurent all join together to allow the student to develop many aspects such as interpretation, composing and arranging in a unique environnement. Québec’s largest music department, the first to teach jazz, the first music department to give a technical music program, the first Cégep to offer double DEC.
Cégep Marie-Victorin (Montréal)
Description : Concerts given by students in training - in and outside of the cégep. Stage Band and many ensemble possibilities and quality auditive training. A new music pavillion equipped with the latest technology. A team of teachers specialized in their field and recognised in the jazz world. Vast choice of large ensembles.
Cégep Drummondville (Drummondville)
Description : The Cégep de Drummondville is the only college institution to offer these four programs : Pre-university Music DEC, DEC - Professional Technique Music & Song, AEC in Creation & Sound Mixing as well as Mixing and Recording.
Segal Centre for Performing Arts
Description : Group music courses for teenagers. Different genres: jazz, rock, blues, pop. Guitar, bass guitar, saxophone and drum courses. Students are eventually matched with students from other groups in order to introduce students to playing in a group. Beginner and intermediate levels. We also offer coaching to either existing or newly created Rock bands or Jazz combos (all ages). Courses in music history (including the All American Song Book history class) as well as a guitar class are available for adults.
Cégep Alma (Alma)
Description : Arranging & writing, drums & percussions, saxophone, keyboards & piano, voice , doublebass, electric guitar & horns. Improvisation et instrumental comprehension, musical groups productions, specialized music pavillion, professional recording studio, 2 concert halls.
JAM VOCAL Online Singing Lessons via Skype All Vocal Styles from Amateur to Professional For Information:
IAM MORDECAHI 208
SARAH HART SISSON
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Published on Mar 26, 2014
Published on Mar 26, 2014
The vocalist magazine (winter 2014 international issue) Featuring: Rihanna Shirley Levi (Rising STAR) + More