Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Closer Look at What May Have Caused Mariah Carey’s Loss in Vocal Range

Question is: CAN you lose your ability to sing? Well, you most certainly can! In this article, I’m going to take a closer look at Mariah Carey’s recent, embarrassing performances that suggest the global star and icon – famous for her five octave range – is on her way down. Her fall from grace began in Tokyo, when she kicked off her Elusive Chanteuse World Tour October 4, 2014, at the Makuhari Messe Arena wherein the singer caused all kinds of backlash when she appeared to miss some top notes – with many telling her to quit now. Worse yet, when she performed her beloved holiday classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You” at the Wednesday, Dec. 3 Tree Lighting Ceremony in NYC’s Rockefeller Center, the world went into utter shock and dismay at her so obviously diminished vocal range. I’ve analyzed the video – including Concourse's newly released isolated vocal track (below) and I have to say, her low notes were dreadful and her high notes were practically nonexistent. She bombed miserably. So what on earth happened to Mariah Carey’s voice? Well let’s find out.

"It's a wrap for Mariah Carey's singing career," one fan wrote, while another added: "Mariah Carey should've bowed out right when her voice was giving out—save herself the embarrassment." Another fan wrote: "I see why Mariah Carey never sings live anymore. That's why."

And this particular comment caught my attention: “Mariah had a great voice. If she's serious about her singing, she needs to hone her skills again and start being more disciplined. Barbra Streisand is almost twice her age and can still hit higher notes than Mariah. Dump the diva antics and start working with a vocal coach!” I’ll tell you this. Your voice is not forever. Never take it for granted. It can only get better with age, but only when you continue to train and look after it.

So what then could be the reasons why Mariah Carey’s voice is falling apart? From a professional standpoint—and I’m not going to speculate—I’m simply going to fill in the gaps for you as quickly as possible. Firstly, there have been reports in the media (and of her own very public admission actually), that what with her marriage to Nick Cannon appearing to be over, sources claim the diva singer is drinking her sorrows away by sipping on champagne until dawn and obsessing over why the America’s Got Talent host left her. Drinking excessively doesn’t help her voice (Whitney Houston drank, smoked AND took drugs and look at what happened to her towards the end of her life—she lost her voice!) If you're a singer, your body is your instrument. Improper care of it over long periods of time will become evident in the sound of your voice. Younger bodies, having less exposure to external influences, are more resilient. But with each passing year your body will manifest the signs of these deteriorating influences—and this afflicts both the untrained as well as the technically developed voice. I’m not saying don’t drink at all—just drink in moderation if you absolutely have to.

Mariah Carey has trained her voice her entire life. You don’t get to sing like that without proper vocal training. Period! Therefore, I’d be very surprised if she would embark on a world tour without voice training. That said, and taking into account her current situation with Nick Cannon, and most likely her lack of focus because of it—not to mention her purported high levels of alcohol intake—it doesn’t surprise me at all that her notes would fall flat. Focus! Alcohol aside—even if she didn’t drink—without focus and adequate rest, you’ll get the same negative results. I’m not defending her. I’m only stating the obvious based on what I know about the human voice. I hope this article helps you understand better the importance of taking care of your voice and what can happen if you don’t—IF you want to sing that is.

Your body is your instrument. You owe it to yourself to look after it. I take Advanced Liquid Nutrition daily, it is a one-of-a-kind, all-natural liquid supplement designed to promote robust health. Why take a liquid nutrition? One word--ABSORPTION!!! The nutrients in Advanced Liquid Nutrition are up to 98% absorbable.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Why Voice Training Is Essential for Singers: What the Stars Have to Say (Part 2)

PUBLISHED IN BUSINESS TIMES NEWSPAPER DEC 5, 2014 == Tanzanian’s in general, from my experience, tend to drag their feet about this. Well I suppose it isn’t in our culture.  You’re more likely to come across parents who would discourage their children from pursuing music in any way shape or form, than parents who would send their kids off to piano, guitar and voice lessons. Which explains why it somewhat becomes inconceivable to most, why voice training is even necessary at all. To help clarify this so you can make an informed decision, this is the second installment of what the stars have to say about the benefits of vocal training. I’ll kick off this article with a pop star who really needs no introduction—Madonna. And here’s what she had to say back in the 80s when she was starting out: “Like all young singers, I want to get my voice together with as much strength, quality and control as I can. It seems to me that there is always some new style, new sound or new direction in popular music. I’d like to be ready for whatever happens. Working with Seth is building a vocal coordination which prepares me to meet all these challenges.”

Recording artist and singer Janet Jackson – the younger sister of Michael Jackson, has sold over 140 million records. She is ranked as one of the best-selling artists in the history of contemporary music. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lists her as the eleventh best-selling female artist in the United States, with 26 million certified albums. In March 2014 Fuse listed Jackson as the third most awarded musician of all-time. In November 2014, Jackson was voted 'Queen of Pop' by a poll conducted online by  And this is what she had to say back in the 80s: “I began to study with Seth when I was 14 years old. We vocalized 3 ½ octaves and evened all the breaks. Today, some years later, we still vocalize and sustain nearly 3 ½ octaves of vocal range and continue to strengthen the bridges.”

Another pop icon I had to include in this article is actress, singer and dancer Jennifer Lopez. She ventured into the music industry in 1999 with her debut studio album, On the 6. With the simultaneous release of her second studio album J.Lo and her film The Wedding Planner in 2001, Lopez became the first person to have a number one album and film in the same week. Her 2002 remix album, J to tha L–O! The Remixes, became the first in history to debut at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, while her fifth studio album, Como Ama una Mujer (2007), received the highest first-week sales for a Spanish album in the United States. With past record sales of 55 million and a cumulative film gross of over $2 billion, Lopez is regarded as the most influential Hispanic performer in the United States, as well as its highest paid Latin entertainer. Here’s what she had to say about her vocal coach: “I first met Seth during the Living Color series. Right away, the balancing of the bridges or breaks in the vocal range began. This technique holds you together vocally during extended recording schedules, and/or the tours to promote the album.”

And on that note, I hope these testimonials have shed some light on what goes into preparing and nurturing the vocals of some of the biggest pop stars in the world. I certainly do hope this inspires you. I’ve uploaded piano scales from my Learn to Sing with Joett vocal training CD Edition 2, to help you get your voice in order. Download FREE vocal training exercises MP3s from my HulkShare page here.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

ASCAP President Paul Williams to Deliver Keynote at Midem

ASCAP President and award-winning songwriter Paul Williams has been announced as a keynote speaker at Midem, the international music business conference set to take place in Cannes, France from June 5th - 8th of 2015.

Central to Williams’s speech will be the great importance of music to our lives. “I want to talk about the social gift that all creators provide,” Williams told Variety. “Gathered at Midem are people who reach into the center of their chest, and others who assist those creators, offering a message that comforts the world.” Read the full article here.

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Diary Of A Songwriter On Going Platinum At Music Clout

I've been a member of the American Society Of Composers, Authors And Publishers (ASCAP) since 2011, on the back of my 2010/11 comeback single I Could Never Live (Without Your Love). Quite literally, it was the song that gained me membership to ASCAP. Since then, more songs have followed into my ASCAP-registered catalog, and if I'm honest, my work towards establishing a songwriting career has only just begun in earnest (good things take time), and is beginning to unfold in more ways than I ever imagined possible on the international music arena. Not a lot is happening in Tanzania, it has to be said. You'll hardly hear my records on the radio and aside from my 90s fan base, very few people know this side of me. I'm famous as a vocal coach now (which is nice), but certainly not for my music. Not in Tanzania anyway. Thing is, I donot MAKE music for the local market and I'm not willing to localize my music to conform. I do what makes me tick. But let's look at the bright side. Color Me Beautiful has enjoyed radio rotation in the USA to the tune of over a thousand spins a week, not to mention top A&R from major US record labels have taken an interest in my work and are practically knocking on my door. It is nice to be appreciated by music industry executives at the top their game. It makes it all worthwhile.

And so I joined Music Clout as a Platimum Member to spearhead my networking endeavors for my international music publishing label Joett Music Publishing. And the truth be told, I'm SO glad I did! It's quite amazing how many music industry contacts are on there AND in search of all manner of things from blogging to A&R, distribution and licensing to magazine feature opportunities and radio's an incredibly vast database of music industry movers and shakers on the move. I love it! And I absolutely intend to make very good use of this resource. Keep up the great work, guys. You rock!

Thanks, for dropping by!

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Speech Therapy: The Key to Finding Your True Singing Voice!

PUBLISHED IN BUSINESS TIMES NEWSPAPER 28/11/2014 == How you speak could very easily prevent you from harnessing your full potential when you sing. Often referred to as your chest voice, your speaking voice -- in singing -- is in your lower register. The trouble is, if your voice -- when you speak -- lacks clarity, power, balance, consistency and resonance, chances are you will likely fall short of the basic qualities needed to becoming a better singer. Singing is defined as sustained speech over a broad range of connected notes using vibrato, dynamics and emotive interpretation. ‘Connective’ being the operative word -- and the reason why this article can help you understand better, the reasons why speech level singing can tremendously improve the quality of your voice.

As a vocal coach, I have seen countless people walk into my studio and make the same mistake over and over again -- they start to sing on a high octave and completely ignore their true voice -- the lower register. In some cases this tendency is so endemic it takes many lessons to help them kick the habit. When you ONLY sing at the top of your range, where else can you go? Doing this seriously limits your range. I always point this out to my students: make sure you use your lower register -- it helps keep you grounded, not to mention, it helps you expand your range effortlessly.

I’ll give you a very useful tip. Get some old records from yesteryear and have a listen to those. Listen to Frank Sinatra (Strangers in the Night), Shirley Bassey (Goldfinger), Julie London (Cry Me a River), Tom Jones (Yesterday), Nat King Cole (Unforgettable), Andy Williams/Nancy Sinatra/Barbara Streisand (Shadow of Your Smile) and you will see that they all have one thing in common. They use their lower register -- a lot. What I like about old songs is they were very well composed… and made to sound simple and easy to sing. Well, because I use a lot of these songs in my jam sessions with the students I vocal coach, they will all attest to the fact that these songs are far from easy to sing…even though they may sound so, they’re quite the contrary. All the more reason, I say, to practice with these enormous classics. If I’m honest, when I was a kid, THIS is how I learned to sing.
Try speaking the following well-chosen sentences into a tape recorder and LISTEN to your voice very carefully. If you don’t like what you hear, chances are you're not speaking in your true voice. So: work on CHANGING the way you speak by using your lower register to speak (as low as you can get); and then try to sing in that same (lower) register, and work your way up the scale. Use that (lower register) as your base voice (your foundation). You'll be amazed what a huge difference it can make to your singing voice. So, speak the following words, and then try singing them.

Good morning Andy.
How’s your leg?
When are you coming back?
Oh, that’s really wonderful.

In summary: An amateur singer, in most cases (watch and observe), will use ONLY their upper register (or thereabouts) when they sing, limiting their range and the quality of their voice with this one endemic singing faux pas. Combine your lower and upper registers to deliver a well balanced vocal range. Turn to old records for inspiration. It worked for me, I’m sure it’ll work for you. Listen to Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey, Julie London, Nat King Cole, Tom Jones, Andy Williams and you will see that they all have something in common. They all use their lower register and work their way up the scale. The next time you find yourself singing at the top of your range from start to finish, stop and go back to basics. Work your way into a song from the ground up. You’ll only discover your true voice when you use your lower register.

For piano scales backing tracks to do the scales with, please download FREE mp3 from my HulkShare page here!

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Singing Lesson: How to Smoothen Out Corrosive Vocals

PUBLISHED IN BUSINESS TIMES NEWSPAPER 21/11/2014 == This is a typical one. Inadequate breath and bad placement cause the corroded vocals you may be experiencing, when you sing. I will elaborate on this. If you sense that your vocal chords actually hurt when you sing, and that your tone is strained and somewhat displaced, then you certainly ARE corroding your vocals when you sing. I think the first thing you need to ask yourself is why is it that when you speak everything seems normal, yet it is quite the contrary when you sing? Does it make any bit of sense to you that when you speak you’re alright and when you sing – suddenly, your vocals are all stressed out and worse yet, you’re hurting? This short article will offer tips on how to go back to basics, relax; how to stop panicking and stressing out your vocal chords; and how to get on with it--smoothly.

Inadequate breath flowing through your vocal chords as you sing is the number one stumbling block (no doubt about it). You must have sufficient breath flowing through that area when you sing. How to fix the problem? Start by opening your mouth wide and just breathe out HAAAA. Make sure you’re not emitting any sound when you do this. Only release the breath. Now, once you’ve got the hang of this, repeat this exercise whilst adding just a bit of voice to it. Gradually increase your voice in small increments whilst ensuring that it stays SMOOTH—in that you’re not feeling any pain or corrosion in that area. Once you’ve struck the ideal balance, use that same balance when you sing ANY song. You’ll not only sound great, you’ll feel a lot better and more in control of what you’re doing.

Applying both the soft and hard tones when you vocalize is also a good combination. The less predictable the better and more interesting you get to sound. Ideally, you’ll want the listener to hear a clear and brighter vocal with a rich blend of tones that combine the smooth with the harder, more edgy embellishments. This helps to quickly capture the attention of your audience. So the next time you’re struggling and falling flat on your notes, remember that all you need to do is breathe.

My Letters from A Vocal Coach column is published in Business Times Newspaper every Friday. For great singing tips, grab a copy!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Diary Of A Vocal Coach On Vanessa Mdee

I met Vanessa Mdee at a mutual friend's funeral in 2010 (of all places). The first thing that struck me about her was that she was EXTREMELY beautiful. I approached her and I remember saying to her..."you're such a pretty girl, you look like a movie star. Who are you?" (Yes, I can be pretty bold). And she smiled, laughed a little, said thank you and then she gave me her business card. At the time, she was MTV rep. And then I gave her MY card...and she went... "WHAT! You're JOETT?" And I said, "Yes, I am!" "OMG, I've heard so much about you, I see your ad in Advertising Dar all the time," she went on. I'm always amazed when people recognize my name. I don't show my face a lot -- especially in the old days I didn't (I hate images), but the brand certainly does do the rounds through advertising and word-of-mouth.

And then she asked me if I would train her. I asked if she was a singer, and she said she wasn't, but that she wanted to get into the business after she'd had the training. She wanted to do this properly I recall her saying. And I said, "no problem, come to my studio and I will train you."

Vanessa is not only one of my best pupils, she's certainly one of my favorite pupils. Yes, because she's exceptionally talented and works REALLY hard to hone her craft. She knows what she wants. And that's what this business is about. It's about commitment. Wanting to do this properly. I think Vanessa Mdee is a shining example of what you can achieve when you put in the time and effort to achieve your dreams. And Vanessa is such a darling. She tells everybody about me and refers a lot of people to me. A very good human being, she is. And what I particularly admire about her is that she got there in the end...through sheer hard work, AND continues to train. Diligently. She is smart enough to realize that vocal training is a continuum. There is no end to it. IF you want to WORK as a singer you'll have to continue to train. Come on guys, Michael Jackson trained his voice till the day he died. I am SO very truly proud of Vanessa. She will always have my support, and I wish her all the success in the world.

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