I was in Glee Club rehearsal in high school. I was probably about 15. The substitute choir mistress listened to my breathy tone and pronounced: ” Your voice is nice, but you’re so breathy. You’ll never become a professional singer.”
I was CRUSHED. Professional singing is what I’d secretly fantasized about since I was old enough to sing into the handle of my skipping rope, pretending it was a mic with a REALLY long cable.
So from that point on, deep inside I wrestled with the seed of thought that said, ‘Nicky, your voice is ok, but you won’t ever amount to much as a singer.’
Fast forward 10 years. I met a voice teacher who was going to listen to my voice and decide whether she was going to take me on as a student.
I sang for her, then she asked in her wonderful Spanish accent: “Your voice is HUSKY. Do you want to keep it that way?”
My heart sank, and I started to mumble some feeble response. But she continued:
“Because if you want to do CLASSICAL, I can train the huskiness out of your voice. But if you want to do POP, you should KEEP the huskiness. Your voice is very unique and that’s what you need for POP music.”
Wow. NOBODY had ever told me that before. You mean I could make my way in music just being MYSELF? Being DIFFERENT meant being UNIQUE, not being WRONG???
I was set free.
And yes, I did become a professional singer 🙂
The great, raspy-voiced Louis Armstrong was rejected by bigwigs in the music biz MANY times before he was finally accepted as a singer. Earth Kitt has a high-frequency, almost NASAL sound. Anita Baker has these gorgeously lush, THICK sound and indistinguishable words. Aretha Franklin wails. There are so many singers who have been successful in the biz by being authentic to THEIR sound, not by trying to fit into what everyone THINKS they should sound like.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: Singer, BE YOU. DO YOU. Your uniqueness is what will allow you to truly offer your gift to the world. There is nobody else who sounds like you.
YES, learn to keep your voice in good shape, YES, please learn healthy vocal technique.
But always, ALWAYS, be you.