Seems that everything in life goes in circles. In 2003ish I started working with a young singer in NYC named Rachel Platten. She was a very ambitious, hard working aspiring singer doing that NYC thing of holding down a couple part time jobs to support her budding music career, and playing shows every chance she got. We worked together regularly for 5 years on bringing her voice up to a truly amazing level. Then over the next few years we worked off and on (as she was often touring) on keeping her voice in shape, as well as doing a lot of co-writing and recording. Then there a were a few years where we didn’t see each other much as she was touring and I was busy writing, recording and producing a lot, and then eventually moving to Nashville.
Then in late spring of this year as we were texting hellos to each other she told me of some vocal health issues she was having. She was excited about having a new Hit Song (Fight Song) but her grueling tour schedule and over busy life had gotten her a bit off track with all of the healthy habits we’d gotten her accustomed to over the years, and she’d developed a vocal disorder. Her management had of course sent her to several specialists in LA, but she wasn’t cured and was still struggling. So needless to say I was very glad to get back on board and get her voice back up to snuff. Fast forward about 4 months now, and she’s virtually trouble free, out of pain and singing better than ever. We’ve been doing Skype lessons now for the last few months anywhere from once to three times a week. I’ve been warming her up before a lot of concerts and several important daytime shows including The View, The Today Show, Good Morning America and the Teen Choice Awards. We’ll be posting some fun videos of those sessions soon. It’s kind of entertaining to see someone warming up their voice with a crew putting make-up on her.
It’s so fun to work with a singer that has explored and practiced enough actual technique, that making adjustments during warm ups and practice sessions is like making fine tuning adjustments to a beautiful instrument.
Rachel performed in October this year at the Country Music Hall of Fame IEBA showcase. She was sharing the bill with some great artists including Jennifer Nettles, The Jacksons, G Love, Howard Jones, Blood Sweat and Tears and several more wonderful Acts.
When we were back stage warming her up before the show, the rest of her band were in the room watching us. Their reaction when we were done was great. There were a lot of OMG’s and “that was awesome” being thrown around. “You guys are so fun to watch working together, your rapport is amazing.” “You can hear the changes taking place as the warm up progresses like magic.” “The way you communicate together is so seamless and almost telepathic.” It was fun to have the musicians she plays with all the time witness that exchange. And it is of course very rewarding for me to be able make such a positive effect on someone at Rachel’s level. But the adjustments I was making during that warm up were very specific and technical adjustments. It’s just that we’ve already done all of the tedious work and practice ahead of time, so that we can now reap the rewards of using all the cool whistles and bells that good vocal mechanics have to offer. And we get to do it in such a way that makes the warm up fun and incredibly efficient and productive. So that by the time we get to where the voice is moving easily to all of the nooks and cranny’s involved in singing, we can get away from the mechanical focus and start directing everything towards the performance head space. That space where intention and emotions lead the way, not the brain. Which is awesome, because Rachel has amazing performance instincts, and the last thing you want to get in the way of a great performance is a voice issue.
So, if there’s a moral to this story it’s “practice the nuts and bolts” of singing, so that that the mechanics involved in voice can help you rather than hinder you.