Advice For A Rising Female Jazz Vocalist

by | Feb 25, 2015 | Arts & Entertainment

If you have decided you want to be a female jazz vocalist, you have probably had people try to talk you out of it. It can be very difficult to get noticed on the music scene, no matter what genre you enjoy performing, However, it can be even tougher when you consider jazzy music because it is very difficult to ‘grade,’ seeing as you don’t have to have an extensive vocal range or particular technique like with some music. However, there is some advice to help you determine what you should be doing and how to do it.


The best way to start any singing career is to listen to the great songs when the genre was most popular. Typical singers include Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Betty Carter. All of the above-mentioned singers were women though you should get an idea of how the men sounded, by listening to Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and others.


You’ll likely want to find some songbooks that contain music from the Great American Songbook, which is the standard book for most singers of the genre and include songs from Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and others. You’ll find two formats available, including Real Books and sheet music with accompaniment. Most musicians prefer Real Books for a freer accompaniment.


When you’re first starting out, you probably won’t need a microphone, but as you grow and maybe start a band, you’ll need to have a good microphone to help keep the subtlety in the music, such as breathy singing and whispering. You’ll also sound different when using a microphone, and it is helpful to know that music before going onstage.


The first thing a female jazz vocalist should consider is what key they sing in because you won’t sound good if you are singing in a key that is too low or high. Simply singing a song can help determine your key, by singing higher and lower until you find a key that fits your style and pitch best. Then, find a guitar or piano to work out which exact key you are singing with. Learn which key sounds best for you for each song, and remember that each song and even different parts of the same song may have you singing in various keys for the best sound.

A female jazz vocalist has to be able to sing in the right key, understand lyrics, melody, swing and rhythmic displacement, among others. Sylvia Brooks knows this and is considered one of the best musical performers, so visit her website to hear more.

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