Singing For Dummies
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Country music has the good ol’ boy songs about whiskey and women, as well as heartfelt ballads about lost love. The artists put on quite a show at their performances and use a variety of sounds when they sing. The biggest common denominator in country music is the story being told. It describes how the singer feels, in a sound that’s similar to a speaking voice.

  • Sound: Country music is slowly and surely becoming more similar to pop music. For now, you can assume that country music focuses on sounding like a real person and telling a story with simplicity in the voice. Generally, country singers use a microphone, so they don’t need to carry the hall like classical singers. Country music also has more twang than you hear in the opera house.

    Singers create the song from their speaking voice — they think of singing as an extension of speaking. For this reason, they don’t need wide, open spaces (in their mouth and throat) and round, rich tones like classical singers. You may have this ability, but you probably won’t use it when you sing country.

  • Healthy technique: You don’t want to sound cultured when singing vowels in country songs. You want to be specific with your articulation so that your audience can understand you, but you don’t want to sound like you’re in class with Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady.

    Figuring out how to create healthy belt is also a good idea, because many singers use a beltlike quality when singing their songs. Knowing the difference between a belt and chest voice helps you keep your voice in balance.

  • Naming names: Clint Black (twang and cry of country), Johnny Cash (great storytelling, similar speaking and singing techniques), Reba McEntire (easy belting, good storytelling, some twang), Trisha Yearwood (strong legit sound and belt, good storytelling ability, combination of emotions and voice to create interesting sounds).

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Pamelia S. Phillips is a professional singer with over 35 years of teaching experience. She has designed curriculum for high school students, college BFA programs, and professional training programs, helping thousands of singers refine their singing technique.

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