The body is an unique instrument and these are unique times.
The voice can make soft, loud, breathy, scratchy, raspy, whiney, yelly, low, screechy, shouty, deep, high, thick, shallow…..sounds. That’s right. We can make almost any sound we want. There’s no right or wrong. Only safe.
Think of a ventriliquist. He can make some amazing sounds and we don’t even see his lips move.
Think of a cartoon character…Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fud, Scooby Doo. Can you make any of these sounds?
Think of an impressionist who can sound like your favourite celebrity. What a well-respected talent to have!
The voice is an amazing instrument, and some people can do amazing things with it!
I truly believe the naturally-gifted singer is the one who can copy with great accuracy and feeling. The one who learns to take risks so they can grow and evolve on their own. I also believe the naturally-talented singer is the one who learns all about their own instrument. The singer who is “self-aware” and totally intune with their mind and body.
Christine Aguilera is one of those. She follows her instincts when she sings, and you can hear it in her performance. She learned to copy her favourite singers when she was young. She is passionate and a risk-taker. She sings how she wants and her fans love it. She has learned how to make her unique sound that no other singer can match. I can’t think of another singer who sings as “hard” as she does in her chest register. (Well, actually, that’s not true…I can think of a few….)
Here is my take on what’s going on. When I hear Christine’s voice, I feel “her pain”. No, I don’t mean her passion for the song, (although I get that). I mean I feel and hear the vocal constriction and effort in her sound quality. You don’t hear it on recordings so much, but you do hear it in live performance…raw, sing-it-from-your-heart-now live performance. Oh, how we as an audience love to hear a singer “let it all hang out”; expose absolutely everything they have to give us in a song. We welcome that energy and passion and commitment.
However, years of bearing her soul have taken a toll on Christine’s voice. I believe her days of Lady Marmalade are soon over if she doesn’t achieve better vocal technique. In order for Christine to continue with a successful career she will need to find a new way to entice her fans. With some knowledge and direction, Christine’s voice can be more seductive and more sultry than it ever was. And, we her fans are ready for it!
Here’s my advise to Christine (and every other singer out there!)
1) A daily guided selection of octave-and-a-half exercises starting from A below middle C and ascending. These would include lip rolls, tongue trills, light hums (sirens), goos and nays. These are just a few important combinations. Easy does it. Do them everyday, often.
2) Seeing a master vocal coach regularly to learn how to mix the voice and stay “in the mix”. In other words, Christine needs to learn how to access her head register even when she is belting. Learning the `mixed`approach of a careful balance of the two registers will keep Christine`s voice safer and healthier for years to come. And, as most of you know, she is already working with one of the best vocal coaches in the world, Seth Riggs.
3) Breathing exercises to take excessive weight off the vocal cords are important. And, of course, a daily regimen of eating healthy, staying hydrated and gettings loads of rest.
It will be interesting to hear Christine’s next album. Will her voice still stretch the boundaries of what vocal experts consider safe? I think it’s highly likely she will still continue to wow us with her deep, thick, sultry vocal cords. However, only Christine will know what her throat and voice feels like at the end of the day. Only Christine will know if she is going to be able to duplicate those superhuman sounds again tomorrow.