What is an Empowered Singer?
It’s a great question. I’m sure we all could put our spin on it. I like to use examples people can relate to, so if you were able to see Season 8 of Fox’s very popular, American Idol, and you remember Lil Rounds, she was the perfect typical example of an artist discovering this very question.
Many people were upset about the 24-year-old, who obviously has an amazing voice: a thick, rich, deep, full, velvety voice able to powerhouse, and stylize with soul when desired. She started off the competition strongly, belting out songs like Mary J Blige’s “Be Without You,” but from there it just seemed to go downhill for her … according to the judges and voting audience.
Was it really true that she even wavered in pitch as well as her song choice? Why was she receiving such harsh criticism for a lady who can obviously sing?
For many years as a pro singer and Vocal Empowerment Coach, having gone through my own vocal journey and witnessed many as well, I can honestly say that Lil is no different than most people, whether they are professional artists, or just your average person who likes to sing. Being an empowered singer boils down to one thing: OBJECTIVITY, and most people struggle with this very thing. It’s hard for them to see themselves from outside themselves, and be objective.
In order to understand your own vocal journey, it’s important to look at why people make the choices they do. Before pointing our fingers at Lil, let’s see if we are guilty of making the same mistakes.
For example, notice how you answer any of the following questions:
1. When was the last time you accepted at the heart level, a compliment about your voice without trying to downplay it?
2. Can you personally identify what is unique and amazing about your voice and be 100% sure about that?
3. Can you remember the last time you tried to make an excuse about your voice, just before you sang?
4. Do the songs you enjoy singing or writing, bring out the best in your voice?
A trap I see many artists fall into is that of self-indulgence. You ask them, “What kind of music do you like to sing?”
Common response: “EVERYTHING! I like to sing all kinds of music.”
Result for Artists: A lack of success.
Why? Not because they didn’t pigeon-hole themselves into a category – it’s beyond that. The truth is, they really do love every kind of music, but what they don’t realize is what they have to offer as a singer.
FINDING A SONG THAT FITS
For example, a very thin person may like to wear many styles of clothing, but generally speaking, not everything is going to look “good” on them. If a thin person were to wear vertical pin-stripes, they tend to accentuate the thin-ness, which could essentially backfire. We would see a very thin person looking even thinner for no good reason, and just ask, “Why?”
On the other hand, if that same person wore big bulky baggy clothes, then she’s hiding what she has, and it’s not even clear what might be under all of that bulk. People become suspicious, “What is she trying to hide?” She also loses touch with her own figure over time and forgets that she has access to other choices of clothing.
Why not just get something that fits?
A good fit won’t be obnoxious and screaming for attention, and it won’t be under-rating itself. It will just be WHAT IT IS. We have to know our size in order to know what fits. We must be wiling to look in the mirror and see the naked truth of what we are, because everybody else can see their version of us anyway.
Empowered singers are just being what they are and accepting it, every step of the way.
FIGURING IT ALL OUT...
The good news is “There is NOTHING to figure out... only to realize.”
Most singers tend to think they should be very critical about their voice.
“The only way I can improve is if I can find out what’s wrong with it and fix it!”
When singers “Realize” what they have to offer, and how the actual process by which a voice evolves and gets better, they stop fighting that old losing battle of trying to fix themselves. They begin to recognize that there is no “battle” anymore, except the one that used to go on in their own head.
Empowered Artists who make the fastest growth do the following:
1. Take an honest look at your beliefs about your voice and see if there are limiting ones. If there are, make the choice to change that. If you need help, you can read my “How to Have Confidence as a Singer and Still Keep it Real” article.
2. Start noticing what is great about your voice. If you don’t know, then do the following:
a) Record yourself when you’re just goofing around singing, not “trying” to sing.
b) Listen with an open heart
c) Notice how it FEELS to sing
d) Ask people whom you trust (except your mother and most family members).
e) Use my integrative C.O.R.E. Vocal Power® System that will help you experience the great power and qualities of your voice in a deep way. It begins with purchasing my Practicing CORE Vocal Power® CD, or studying privately with me (or over the phone, or online via Skype) by calling 310-497-6193.
(*Note: If we need to notice what is right about our voice in order to choose the right song to bring out more of those great qualities, then how is picking our voice apart going to help it grow? Picking it apart has the exact opposite effect. It stops our voice from growing and makes us rigid, unsure, cautious and too mechanical. Sound familiar?)
The most empowering thing an artist can do is to know and love their voice.
Believe it or not, in 20 years of teaching hundreds of people, I have never met a single person whose voice did not have something great about it.
3. Find songs that allow you to EMBODY your great vocal qualities. For example, if I have a low, rich, full, exciting voice, then I would want to find songs that I could pour my energy into and that suited my exciting personality. I wouldn’t pick a song in a high key that was slow and operatic in nature, because that’s not my personality or gift. As you voice evolves, so do your choices, but start with what you know. This process is something that needs to be explored with each individual artist.
4. When you sing a song, do it with COMMITMENT to what its message means to you (the subtext).
So, the question is – did Lil finally figure out what makes her great as an artist, and was she able to pick a song that expressed this? Unfortunately not 100% on Season 8 of American Idol, but I’m hopeful that by now, she has figured it out. If she does the four things I listed above, she will indeed have a beautiful framework for becoming a very successful and happy artist. Thank goodness we have our entire lives to evolve and realize our greatest gifts that are already within.
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Award winning Singer/Songwriter Empowerment Coach Dot Todman appeared as a Celebrity guest on TV Guide’s Idol Chat
and gave advice for American Idol (www.americanidol.com) contestants.