What is Soul?

Guest Blogger: Terri Brinegar is the author of Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer. Below is an excerpt from her blog.

I was recently speaking to someone about having “Soul” and the question came about: “What is Soul”? How do you really define that?

I guess when I think of soul I think of the singers who defined the Soul Era in music: Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Al Green, etc.

But what about Janice Joplin? She’s got soul. Do country artists have soul? I think Loretta Lynn does, and Patsy Cline did too.

How about jazz artists – did Louis Armstrong have soul? You bet he did. Actually, he had so much soul that people don’t seem to realize how important his contributions were to the field of jazz.

For me, I think soul is all about emotional connection. All of the above artists really connected with their heart in the way they delivered a song. They felt it at their deepest core, and expressed it. It wasn’t about power or glory, and certainly not about money. I’ve heard too many contestants on reality singing competitions say the reason they wanted to win was so they could buy their mom a new house, or help their family out financially. Those are all noble reasons – but not the true reason to be a professional singer.

Keep reading Terri Brinegar’s article on her blog

Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R &B Singer

In Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer Brinegar shares with her extensive stage experience, her success as a bandleader to some of the greatest musicians in the world, her skills as a musician and songwriter, her training in classical voice, and her years as a vocal coach. Brinegar believes a strong foundation of vocal technique is necessity to success in any style of singing. She is probably one of the few teachers with both a classical background and years of stage experience singing blues and R&B. While there are many books on technique, few, if any, have been written with Brinegar’s broad and comprehensive take on the contemporary music industry.

You Are The Gift

Guest Blogger:Terri Brinegar is the author of Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer. Below is an excerpt from her blog.

I read a quote recently that goes like this:

“Music is an incredible gift…the gift of being able to learn to play music is an incredible gift. And you…are very special because you were chosen and given that gift. The day you were born the world became richer than it was because of your presence with that gift.” (Rich Matheson)

The person who wrote that quote is a jazz tuba player – yeah, that’s right! But does it matter if that quote is about jazz or being an instrumentalist, or being a singer? No, the message is what matters.

What struck me about this quote is that in the world we live in here in the U.S., vocal competitions on TV are everywhere! Everyone thinks they are a singer, and everyone wants to be famous and live the rest of their lives singing. And I think that’s great – obviously I think singing is a wonderful expression of one’s gift.

For more please visit Brinegar’s blog.

Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer

In Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer Brinegar shares with her extensive stage experience, her success as a bandleader to some of the greatest musicians in the world, her skills as a musician and songwriter, her training in classical voice, and her years as a vocal coach. Brinegar believes a strong foundation of vocal technique is necessity to success in any style of singing. She is probably one of the few teachers with both a classical background and years of stage experience singing blues and R&B. While there are many books on technique, few, if any, have been written with Brinegar’s broad and comprehensive take on the contemporary music industry.

The Song Whisperer

Guest Blogger: Terri Brinegar is the author of Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer. Below is an excerpt from her blog.

I went to the blues jam a couple of nights ago and after I got through singing a customer of the bar came up to me and said, “I really enjoyed hearing you sing, but not only that, you are a great performer.” He said, “I like how you take command of the stage and direct the band.” I joked with him and asked him if he’d seen the TV show “The Dog Whisperer” and he laughed asking if I was the “Band Whisperer”. I said not the band whisperer but the “Song Whisperer”, meaning that I don’t try to control people and their creative expression, but I take charge of the song. There is quite a difference.

You see with controlling the band and letting them know who’s boss and telling them what to play and how to play it; you cut off someone’s identity, how they express themselves – and that’s never a good thing. People have a right to express things how they want to express them. But with controlling the song, I’m really doing everyone, including myself, a great service.

Let me explain: since we all have our own expression, there are many ways to interpret a song. For example, the song “Chain of Fools” has probably been played about a kazillion times. But it still will sound different with different players playing it. (Yeah!) But even with this song, which really just vamps (repeats) over one chord, there are some punches and stops that must be directed, or it could wind up being a train wreck. I’ve been in musical train wrecks before, and let me tell you, they are not fun. Everyone, including the audience, is uncomfortable when there is a musical train-wreck onstage. So someone needs to be the director of the band and the song. If no one’s in control, then it will be like a runaway train going where it will. So it’s your job as, not only the singer, but also the director of the song, to direct people on the arrangement of the song.

Keep reading this post on Terri Brinegar‘s website.

Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer

In Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer Brinegar shares with her extensive stage experience, her success as a bandleader to some of the greatest musicians in the world, her skills as a musician and songwriter, her training in classical voice, and her years as a vocal coach. Brinegar believes a strong foundation of vocal technique is necessity to success in any style of singing. She is probably one of the few teachers with both a classical background and years of stage experience singing blues and R&B. While there are many books on technique, few, if any, have been written with Brinegar’s broad and comprehensive take on the contemporary music industry.

Turn Criticism into a Positive Experience

Guest Blogger: Terri Brinegar, author of Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer (Hal Leonard Books). Read this and more posts on her blog.

This business of music is a tough one – you’ve just got to have thick skin if you want to succeed. And you’ve got to know everything about everything – why limit yourself?

Yesterday was weird in that another voice teacher, someone who I had never heard of or met, and who had not read my book or listened to my CDs, posted some critical remarks about the fact that I was offering CDs with my book as a teaching tool. I do believe that there is a positive in every “negative.” Sometimes it takes a while to make itself known, sometimes it happens immediately, especially is you are looking for it. I realized that this person’s negative critique was a positive for me, because it gave me the opportunity to really express my philosophy regarding teaching, and to take pride in what I do, and to stand firm in my beliefs in what I know works. And now I am grateful for his negativity, because I’ve made it a positive!

So this is my opinion on instructional books and CDs:
Click here to read Terri’s opinion on her blog! 

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In Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer Brinegar shares with her extensive stage experience, her success as a bandleader to some of the greatest musicians in the world, her skills as a musician and songwriter, her training in classical voice, and her years as a vocal coach. Brinegar believes a strong foundation of vocal technique is necessity to success in any style of singing. She is probably one of the few teachers with both a classical background and years of stage experience singing blues and R&B. While there are many books on technique, few, if any, have been written with Brinegar’s broad and comprehensive take on the contemporary music industry.

R&B, Blues, and Jazz: Kissin’ Cousins!


Guest Blogger:
 Terri Brinegar, author of Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer (Hal Leonard Books). Read this and more posts on her blog.

I’m writing this Note in response to a post yesterday I saw from a talented, professional musician who wrote negative comments about a Smooth Jazz artist, insinuating that this artist was not a “real” jazz musician because she played Blues-inspired licks in her soloing. I was trying to decide how to respond to this, since I myself am a Blues-inspired artist, currently learning about Jazz. I am also a lover of Smooth Jazz for the very reason the person was criticizing the other: it is a hybrid of Jazz, Blues-riffs, R&B, and Funk grooves – all the stuff I love! So I just have to defend the genre and the artist who was being criticized.

Let me start with a very, very brief history of Blues and Jazz.
Jazz and Blues both started around the turn of the century. Supposedly W.C. Handy discovered the Blues in 1903 and then wrote the first published Blues tune, “Memphis Blues” in 1912. Around the same time Jazz emerged in New Orleans around 1900. “In 1924 Armstrong joined Fletcher Henderson’s band in New York City, pushing the band in the direction of a hotter, more improvisatory style that helped to create the synthesis of jazz and ballroom dance music that would later be called swing. Although big bands relied heavily on arrangements of popular Tin Pan Alley songs, the blues—with its 12- bar structure, three-chord pattern, blue notes, and call-and-response patterns—also remained a mainstay of swing music. Of all the big bands, the one most closely associated with the blues tradition was led by the jazz pianist William “Count” Basie (1904–84)….

Keep reading this post on Terri’s blog!

In Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer Brinegar shares with her extensive stage experience, her success as a bandleader to some of the greatest musicians in the world, her skills as a musician and songwriter, her training in classical voice, and her years as a vocal coach. Brinegar believes a strong foundation of vocal technique is necessity to success in any style of singing. She is probably one of the few teachers with both a classical background and years of stage experience singing blues and R&B. While there are many books on technique, few, if any, have been written with Brinegar’s broad and comprehensive take on the contemporary music industry.

R&B Melismas (runs, riffs)

Guest Blogger: Terri Brinegar, author of Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer (Hal Leonard Books). Read this and more posts on her blog.

OK, a lot of R&B singers get a lot of flak about using too many notes in their singing. I’ve heard the term “over-souling” which implies “too much.” Haha!

 

I do believe sometimes it is too much, especially if it over-shadows the melody. I guess it seems that some singers are more interested in showing off their voices than concentrating on the melody of the song or focusing on the lyrics of a song. And these elements are important to conveying the emotion and/or beauty of the song. But really melismatic singing is not such a new concept, and R&B singers are not the first to “show off” their chops.

Let me first define “melisma” – it really means to sing multiple notes over a single syllable. There are other terms used, such as riffing or runs. Either way, it’s a bunch of notes!

Actually…
Keep reading this post on Terri Brinegar’s blog!

In Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer Brinegar shares with her extensive stage experience, her success as a bandleader to some of the greatest musicians in the world, her skills as a musician and songwriter, her training in classical voice, and her years as a vocal coach. Brinegar believes a strong foundation of vocal technique is necessity to success in any style of singing. She is probably one of the few teachers with both a classical background and years of stage experience singing blues and R&B. While there are many books on technique, few, if any, have been written with Brinegar’s broad and comprehensive take on the contemporary music industry.

R&B Singing, Competitions, and TV Shows

Guest Blogger: Terri Brinegar, author of Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer.

There has been an abundance of singing competitions on TV ever since the advent of “American Idol” over a decade ago.  And I think it’s just great!  Singing is a source of joy–even non-singers love to sing in the shower, sing in church and with family.  No wonder those TV shows are so popular.  And who doesn’t love to hear a great singer sing a heart-felt song?

I guess that takes us to the question of “What is a great singer?”  I suppose this is a question similar to “What is beautiful”?  There of course are very many differences of opinion.  Consider this:  In the Middle Ages, a great singer certainly wouldn’t be what you or I consider to be great today.  Times change and opinions change.  And some people never change–our parents think great singers are the singers from their generation, and might just think that your favorite singers can’t sing worth a hoot!  Right?

Well, just as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” great singing can be in the ear of the listener–ha!

But I have to say it’s more than just an opinion.  There are some qualities that can be defined as “great” especially as we define it today (not like the monks would define it in the Middle Ages, or your parents for that matter).  Here are a few things that we can put on the list:

Technique–that is, studying with a teacher, learning the in’s and out’s of the voice and how it works, learning to use your instrument (and yes, the voice is an instrument) to the best of its capabilities, practicing to strengthen your voice, striving to reach new heights (and lows) vocally, stretching your abilities.  If you can’t study with a professional vocal coach, learn from books and CDs – there are plenty of books and CDs on vocal instruction (such as mine), and although it may not be quite as beneficial as one-on-one private instruction, there is much you can learn from reading and listening and applying technique offered in books and CDs.

Emotional Expression–putting your heart and soul into your singing.  No one wants to hear a bland, emotionless singer – boring!!  I’ve sometimes wondered why certain singers have made it big, when they weren’t great singers to begin with.  Take Janice Joplin for instance–she’s not a technically great singer, but she just oozed emotional expression.  She put her heart into her singing 100% – in every single note!  She held nothing back, which really is like exposing one’s inner self.  To be emotional in your singing, you must truly be connected to the song and FEEL it. If you can’t feel it, then pick a different song!  If you’re bored, then the audience will be too…

Listening–yes, your ears are just as important as your voice (there I said it!)  If a singer gets on stage and over-sings (or as I like to call her – a “melismaniac”), then it seems that she is just singing for her own benefit, to hear herself sing, which is really very selfish!  Remember, it is your job as the singer to help people to connect to the music, to feel what you’re feeling, to get drawn in to the power of the song.  It’s really not about YOU…Keeping that in mind, if you use your ears, you learn to listen, to learn to give-and-take, to work with the band, to let others shine, to allow SILENCE in a song.  Do you realize that silence can be the greatest emotional expression in a song?  Listen to Aretha Franklin sing “Dr. Feelgood.” She allows a TON of space, which creates emotional tension and release.  It’s not all just in your face.  We all like the suspense of “what is she going to do now?”  Singers who over-sing and use too many riffs and fill every hole in the music get boring, there’s no suspense because we as listeners know exactly what’s coming: more notes!  Learn to be a giver to the song, nurture the song–it wants to be coddled and treated with love and affection–not trampled on by a thousand notes!

These are just a few of the basics of what makes a singer “great.”  But of course, tomorrow there could be a whole new set of things–it constantly changes!

I guess the most important thing is to sing from your heart, love it, and put your passion into it.

Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer

In Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer Brinegar shares with her extensive stage experience, her success as a bandleader to some of the greatest musicians in the world, her skills as a musician and songwriter, her training in classical voice, and her years as a vocal coach. Brinegar believes a strong foundation of vocal technique is necessity to success in any style of singing. She is probably one of the few teachers with both a classical background and years of stage experience singing blues and R&B. While there are many books on technique, few, if any, have been written with Brinegar’s broad and comprehensive take on the contemporary music industry.

Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. Each episode authors and their guests have a chat about the topics of their books. Today, Terri Brinegar, author of Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R&B Singer sits down and chats with Nashville singer-songwriter Joanna Cotten.

>>>LISTEN HERE<<<