It has been quite a wild ride for pop sensation Sam Smith. From the start, getting a Grammy as Best New Artist in his first year with the single “Stay With Me” as an absolute smash, and newer hit singles like “Dancing with a Stranger” and “How Do You Sleep,” it is a wonder to see where he would go from here and how he’d continue to find his unique voice in today’s saturated pop genre.
Like many major artists who have achieved high success, they can’t take all of the credit themselves – and Sam is no different. He studied and worked on his voice for years, learning technique and perfecting his sound. Behind many of the great singers that are well-known today are great coaches, and Sam attributes most of his success to his two vocal coaches, Anthony Wade (aka “Dr. Voice”), who is known to “help people find their voice,” and Joanna Eden, who mentored him when his parents asked her to a number of years ago.
WHY ARE VOICE LESSONS IMPORTANT FOR SINGERS?
It all comes down to the well-known and old phrase “practice makes perfect.” Tracy Reina, co-owner and renowned voice instructor of singing lessons by Music To Your Home in NYC, says that “Vocal coaches and voice teachers are there to help you build your confidence to perform and to guide you in the best techniques for your style of music. A coach will work to help you find your true singing platform.”
Some people believe they own innate talent for singing. While that may be true, without proper training and instruction on vocal health and how to prepare for long periods of singing, most of those talented people will either go unnoticed or burn out.
TAKE RISKS WITH YOUR VOICE
When Sam Smith started working with Eden, he was only 9 years old. She told VH1 in an interview that he had confidence and a good voice, and was willing to try different things, unafraid to make mistakes.
Part of learning to find your true voice and improve your singing is through being fearless. Risks are an essential tool for the learning process, which is something that many singers may struggle with. A singer won’t know what their voice can actually do until they start testing its limits. When training with a coach, singers are encouraged to push themselves to find different vocal styles and techniques that will help them sound more mature, unique, and prepared.
THE MORE YOU SING, THE BETTER YOU SOUND
Sam’s vocal coach that he works with now, Anthony Wade, says you really need to think about and care for your voice consistently, as it is something you use every single day. The less you flex and utilize your voice, the more limitations you give yourself.
Wade said that he experimented with his voice for years because he was unhappy with the way it sounded. He utilized those same techniques working with Sam – encouraging him to work with different registers and find “voices” that he had within.
Since he started with his first teacher, Sam has worked diligently to find his sound, embrace it, and fine-tune it. The process is ongoing and does not end. From warmups to performance, you should always condition and work your voice to perform at the highest level.
SINGING FOR THE STYLE THAT YOU WANT
Your voice is unique to you and you alone, so when you sing, it shouldn’t be to imitate someone else. Sam Smith said that, with his last album, he finally showed who he was, and he was thrilled to put himself out there in that way. Wade has helped him to develop and work with the sound he really wants to show the world.
His newest album to land in 2020 is going to feature more poppy, upbeat tunes, and fewer ballads. He said this shift is something he’s always dreamed of doing but he was originally too shy to branch out, after making his mark with ballads like “Stay With Me” and “I’m Not The Only One.” As an established talent, he has decided to prioritize what he wants his music to sound like and have the courage to put his “new” voice out there.
It is easy for performers to let themselves be molded into a certain type of singer, but the secret is never being scared to go for what you really want! Maybe you’re great at singing opera but you really want to sing country. A vocal coach will be there to help and guide you, so don’t be afraid to share the dreams you have for your voice, and where you’d like it to go.
Exercise patience as well. Smith didn’t turn into a Grammy Award winner and pop phenomenon overnight. It took many years of practice, discipline, and diligence. If you are a serious singer and don’t have a voice coach, now is the time to take yourself more seriously and get one. Think about what kind of voice you have, and what journey you want to take. Don’t be afraid to find different sounds and experiment with your vocal abilities. And always keep practicing!