When it comes to defining your image as a singer, singer-songwriter or singing musician, one of the most important things to recognize, and then never lose sight of, is the fact that you are unique.
In the process of finding the right look, as well as that perfect fit for the material you sing, you must be
true to who you are, what you believe, and what you value. And, of course, the song must also be a good fit for you in terms of range, tempo, style, while making use of your strengths as a vocalist.
That doesn’t mean that you should not experiment or stretch or try new things for fun. But you should also not take for granted, try to cover up, or apologize for what makes you unique.
Be True To What’s You
Authenticity is critical when it comes to what you present in a live performance from the look and feel of your visual appeal to the emotional arc, technical prowess, and storytelling in your singing.
When you’re first starting out, there may be a tendency to go a bit overboard by doing something, singing something, or wearing something for the sake of grabbing attention. This is understandable since what is motivating you is the desire to be noticed. But whatever you choose as that attention grabber can be distracting; and it has the potential to define you in ways that aren’t true to who you are and don’t honor your unique gifts.
Take A Poll
If you’re not sure what sort of look you should have or you’re seeking some feedback, you can try polling a handful of people that are familiar with your singing. Ask them for comments on what they get from your performances, and ask for ideas on what you should wear, as well as songs they’d like to hear you sing.
You can also think about singers you relate to or enjoy. Then, look at the image they project to identify any connections between the look or visual appeal of the artist and the sensory and emotional impact of their material. Then, look at the impact of your material and what it triggers. You can then enhance, counter, or underplay the emotional and sensory impact of your unique singing voice through the image or look you create.
Impact – Don’t Distract
Remember that the story and message of each song is the focus for your performance. So, you don’t want to be out of sync with or to distract from the emotional and sensory impact of your material. You want to stay away from trying to look like somebody else – unless it’s for a specific number where you’re doing a tribute or a parody. You want to avoid gaudy, bulky wardrobe pieces unless they tie into a specific song and are then discarded.
Be careful in your choice of any props or set pieces that you might want to use to define your act. You don’t want anything that might limit your appeal or draw unnecessary attention.
Sing To Your Passions
As for the material you sing, choose songs with lyrics that speak to your passions, as you sing with your own style and in a way that uses your vocal strengths. If you have a hand in writing your own material, remember that the best lyrics are those that reflect the truth of your unique life experience. Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell once said that she wanted the personal truths of her songs to have a universal ring.
If a song is not about your life experience make sure it reflects a true, deep personal passion for its subject.
For singers that don’t write, your goal is to personally take each song to heart so that it rings true to your audience. Popular singer Maura O’Connell has often said that she sings a song as if she wrote it. One of your goals is to learn each song by heart so that its story and message becomes a part of your unique life experience, voice, and performer-presence.
In finding and developing your own sense of style and personal phrasing, listen to a variety of music and singers, and make note of what you connect with. Exercise and enhance your phrasing and interpretive skills by learning songs that intrigue you but are challenging for you in some way.
Do It Your Way
Once you learn the song technically, note by note, then, experiment with singing it your own way. Play with what feels best. Go with what your heart is telling you to do. Depending on what you hear or feel, you might put a blues spin on a gospel song or give a folk feel to a pop standard. Take into consideration your vocal strengths, what naturally sounds best, and sing the song the way you want to hear it. This is a great project for sessions with your vocal coach, helping you to find and fine tune your naturally unique style and phrasing.
You want your focus to always defer or default to how you are uniquely designed as a singer and performer. This will help you create and build on your own distinctive style of singing and stage performance that will ring true to who you are and what you bring to heart in your audience.
As a general rule of thumb, if a stylistic choice or image decision makes you uncomfortable, then it should be discarded. If it’s a case of needing to stretch for a specific song or performance; then, you need to put in some extra time with rehearsal, as well as work with your vocal coach or support team so it becomes second nature.
Study video of your performances to make note of any distracting facial expressions or gestures and movements that you need to control or adjust. Make note of anything that seems fake or unnecessary. Also note any dead space where you feel a gesture or facial expression should be explored to enhance the emotional impact of your performance.
Sound Off + Clip On
Talk with others at SingingSuccess.tv for challenges and choices they’ve found when it comes to defining image. Share performance clips with others for feedback and suggestions on material and to get a read on how you are perceived in terms of your stage presence, wardrobe, phrasing, and live performance skills.
Look at the performance clips that are available at SingingSuccess.tv to get a read on
what you pick up in terms of the look, sound, and choice of material for each singer.
Check out Tom Jackson’s programs here at SingingSuccess.tv on developing your live performance skills.
Book a session via phone, skype, or in the studio with one of Brett Manning’s certified associates and ask about image choices and the right material as part of your session.
Use the study of other singers and performers to trigger ideas for developing your own unique singing style and look. But also be true to your passions, beliefs, and unique gifts. That voice and the look and the material you deliver is what distinguishes you on the path to your true singing success.
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Check out Brett Manning’s NEWEST Associate Vocal Coach, Leigh Nash – Lead Singer of Grammy-nominated rock/pop band Sixpence None the Richer!