Most singers come to me saying they want to be better singers. Before we do any exercises or singing, though, I ask more questions. Better… for what? Original music? Singer/songwriter stuff, or hard rock band? Karaoke competitions? Musical theatre? Recording only? Live performance only? Casual singing with friends?
What makes a great singer depends on the opportunity you’re going after. Here are some qualities you need for different opportunities:
Corporate / wedding “working” band lead vocalist: Solid and versatile lead vocals, ability to harmonize, visually attractive in a “typical” way, ability to play an instrument and hand percussion a plus, ability to emcee a plus, versatile in genres and styles, ability to commit, professional attitude, organized and responsible.
Singer/songwriter: Charismatic vocal style, engaging performer, good songwriter, excellent on-stage communicator, decent instrumentalist, strong on the business and booking side, ability to lead and manage other people if a band is desired.
Karaoke singer: Strong but not necessarily charismatic or versatile vocal abilities, good performer, confident on stage, good communicator through song.
Jazz singer: Excellent pitch even on unusual intervals and color notes, ability to improvise, excellent rhythm, musically literate, excellent communicator of emotion on stage, ability to read and create lead sheets.
Hard rock singer: Vocal power and attitude, strong and unique stage presence.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, and I’m sure lots of it is up for debate. But the point is, what are your goals as a singer? That will define what you should be working on, not only in terms of vocal technique but also in terms of other skills as well.
(c) 2011 Adrienne Osborn