I spent most of my adult life singing cover tunes and thus my ear was crafted toward imitating everyone. Certainly, I put my own spin on whatever I sang, but for the most part, unfortunately, I spent all my time mimicking the popular top 40 songs that the band was performing. Though I have a seven octave range, I used my voice in a very limited way. I had become commercialized and uniform keeping with the mainstream top 40 standards.
When I was younger people would tell me all the time to listen to the jazz greats, the legends – Sarah, Ella, Lena, etc. I wasn’t interested in them or in that style of music. Give me Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, Stevie and all the music that goes boom, boom. I didn’t want to know about anything else. Finally, at the insistence of my mentor, I began listening to these great vocalists. I understand now why people wanted to push me toward them. I can hear how these masters skillfully carve out a melody inside of the music — how their voices move through the music like melodic ocean waves.
Today’s music has layers and layers of background vocals. As I started doing my own music, I would do the same thing – layers and layers of background vocals. Listening to the greats I hear how that one person has the tact and the skill to make a piece sound full and tell the story of that piece all by themselves.
So through a series of postings, I will present music from these musical craftspeople who can make you ride through a piece with them. They entrance you and take you on a journey, tell you a story and by God, they do it so well.
Find a young person to share this music with. Today’s music is such amazing garbage! Wanna be singers who mumble their way through a song; the application of electronic effects on voices making people sound like transformers instead of human beings. Actually, the electronics help with the flat notes – a little. And in seemingly every song, a woman is commanded to shake it, flip it, back it up, etc. Money, rims, bitches and hoes. As a comedian said, you need a condom to listen to a lot of today’s popular music. The purpose of this music is to keep an entire generation asleep and not thinking.
So, find a young person and expose them to real music. Let them know where we came from. Let them know that there is such a thing as real music and that people actually have to take the time to learn how to play an instrument versus looping beats on a computer. Save us all! : )
The next post will feature Brook Benton. Stay tuned.