Vocal Instruction

Musician/Singer Spotlight

Calling singer-songwriters, Americana, Country and Folk artists

Hey All:

Red Train Records is looking to add Country, Folk/Americana and singer-songwriters to their labe. They will provide a vast array of resources to the accepted musicians as well. Red Train has worked with names such as Fiona Apple, Robert Palmer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Follow the link below for more details! They do have a deadline to submit. Good Luck



The phenomenon that is “Music City” (Nashville)

Much has been written in recent years about the rise of the music scene in Nashville, from its roots as a country music mecca- to a bustling community of musicians, singers and music business folk from multiple music genres.

Now, from City Lab, comes a in-depth look at this urban cultural transition. The story is fueled by an interview with Daniel B Cornfield,  author of the book “ Beyond the beat: Musicians building community in Nashville”.



Songwriter royalties- in the digital age

T Bone Burnett is certainly a “titan” of the music business. An american songwriter, as well as  a soundtrack and album producer since the early 1970s, Burnett has collaborated with the likes of Elton John, John Mellancamp, Roy Orbison, The Wallflowers and Allison Krauss, to name a few. He has won Grammy awards, as well as an Oscar and a Golden Globe award for his music.
This article is Burnett’s view on the music business today and specific to the concern that royalty sums due songwriters have shrunk to all-time lows. And so Burnett details the reasons, and how the root cause of the problem is this age of the digital download, and what might be done to stem the tide of this phenomenon. Read on.



Making money singing: Part Two- How to choose the right band for you

In Part one of Making Money Singing, we looked at the various options singers might explore to locate paid singing work.

At the point where you have identified a desirable band(s) for you, it’s time to take the next steps in the process.

Perhaps you already have a clear picture of your ultimate band? Whether you do or don’t, as you begin to target bands, it becomes necessary to get answers to your most important questions about the band- so that you have the best fit for you.

First ask yourself, is this music something you really want to sing? Can you see yourself singing these songs? The band will not change their song repertoire for you.

Let’s look at some of the important questions you will want to ask a bandleader:

-Are you expected to supply a PA system and/or microphone?

-What is the location of rehearsals? What frequency, days of the week and what hours of the day? are rehearsals?

-How long has the band been together? Are they working now and how does the band get booked?

-Current amount, or projected amount of work, and the location of the jobs. Is this amount suitable for you (too much or too little)?

-Does this band specialize in one type of music?

-Who chooses the songs?

-What is the pay scale?

-Will there be choreography (Dance) in the performances?

-What is the attire (especially for women)?

-Is this a club band or an outside band

-Am I replacing a singer?

-Am I expected to play any instrument?

-Am I the only singer and will I need to sing harmony?

These are important questions to ask right from the beginning as a way to get you closer to identifying your ultimate working band.

End of Part Two.

Making Money Singing: Part One (Overview)

Here begins an in-depth discussion on singers and income sources. This discussion will be in multiple parts beginning with: How do singers make money?

When it comes to singers and income, the very top of the spectrum would be the superstar recording artists who make sums well into the millions, such as Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. But even the superstars started somewhere and that is where we begin the discussion.

Band and solo public performance work:
Many singer-songwriters find solo work in venues such as coffee shops, clubs and listening rooms; but there are also many options for those singers that seek to be in a band.
There are bands to fit most music genres, such as rock bands, country bands, reggae bands, jazz bands, and also blues bands, pop bands and folk bands. Beyond genre specific there are also wedding, party and club bands. Some restaurants have singing waiters and waitresses.

Let’s look at another segment in the singers and income category:
Freelance singing: Singers for hire in this instance may not be looking to join a band, but still still have opportunities to fill a need for music that includes vocal:
-A church singer for weddings and funerals.
-“Media work” is Jingle singing for radio and TV.
-A recording studio singer aligns with a studio for projects such as demo recordings that require vocal.
-Singing telegrams are yet another opportunity for singers.

Next begins the process of research and networking to locate the situations that may be a fit for you. Begin to reach out to every musician that you know and also those that you meet along the way, and let them know that you seek singing work. To accomplish this it will be best to hand out a professional business card. These are relatively inexpensive to create as well.

Websites such as Craiglist are a good start. Within Craigslist, the musician board often has listings for bands that need singers. Bandmix and Reverbnation are band sites to search for those band styles that you are most interested in. As you begin to identify types of bands here, reach out via email to let them know that you’re looking for work.

Another search option would be to search online for live venues in your area or the area you would like to perform, and then visit these venues and talk to the band members on their break between sets.

You may consider karaoke or open mike venues as a means to get singing experience though these would be without pay. At some of the more established and respected open-mike venues you can also network with musicians and other singers.

Look for part 2 coming soon.

Singer-songwriter Emily Elbert

Wow…as I looked into details of the Robben Ford show in Jim Thorpe, slated for this evening, I was astounded when I listened to a you tube clip of Robben’s opening act: Emily Elbert. Soulful, jazz, R&B vocal timbre. According to her site bio she has graduated from Berklee School of Music, but whether vocal instruction was part of her study is unknown. Doesn’t matter, this gal has a great future. I’m guessing this vid was pre-Berkee? She looks 15 years old which adds to the ‘wow’ factor once you hear her vocal command. Give a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeuH8vU83ps

Singer spotlight: Andrew Lipke

Had an opportunity to take in the Andrew Lipke set in Wilmington this past summer when he opened for Leon Russell. Andrew is an East Coast guy and performs in the Philly region often so go check him out.

Here is a two-song you tube from a past Andrew performance. The second song, a haunting, minor-key ballad, “Up to Here”, at the 9:15 mark of the video best demonstrates his great rang as well as his creative blend of mid voice and head voice.




Phoebe Hunt

Singer-Songwriter Phoebe Hunt is far from a household name, but if the output from her debut solo album and follow-up live disc are any indication, she will go far. She is well steeped in folk, pop and bluegrass- and just an amazing overall talent.

I just love Phoebe’s vocal timbre and overall command of her mid voice and head voice which shines amongst the careful vocal arrangements in each of her tunes.

Check her out:


Tribute to Levon Helm

Thought it would be great to look back a month or so on the 2013 Grammys and spotlight the wonderful tribute to the late Levon Helm.

What a great assemblage of current stars along with a few of the industry titans in this performance: Zac Brown, Brittany Howard, Elton John, Mumford and Sons, T. Bone Burnett and Mavis Staples. This is a wonderful treatment of “The Weight” from The Band.  Enjoy!


Musician/Singer Spotlight- Kenny Rankin


Hey all…

One of the great singers in the pop and jazz world over the last 35 years, and maybe the most unknown at the same time was Kenny Rankin. He had such a unique quality to his voice and possessed such a great command of each vocal line that he sang. He was also a great songwriter and the most incredible arranger.

Of all of the singers that I have followed and admired over the years, Kenny Rankin is most puzzling to me as to why he was not more popular. Sadly, in 2009  Kenny passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Here is one of many amazing examples of his arrangement and  vocal prowess in his version of the Beatles classic: Blackbird: