Monday, April 20, 2015

Mayunga Beats Contestants from 12 African Countries to WIN Airtel Trace Music Star 2015

When I heard the news the night he won this competition, I was THRILLED. I hardly slept at all. I kept going over this in my head, and the more I thought about it, the more I began to reflect upon how this came about in the first place. How I pitched my way into Airtel Trace Music Star was SO déjà-vu. So uncanny. When news of the competition was flying about on TV and radio, I picked up the phone and rang Anethy Muga, the marketing person at Airtel, and I told her quite frankly... "if you want Tanzania to win this competition, you need me. I must come on board. I am your man!" I remember she asked me, "but who are you?" and I replied, "my name is Joett, I'm a vocal coach, and I am the best!"

She took me very seriously, she contacted Trace in South Africa, and then sent off my profile. When TRACE Managing Director East Africa Steve Agutu came to town, we had a meeting and there you have it... I was on board as judge AND vocal coach to the Top 5 Tanzania contestants! And what's even MORE unbelievable is when I was training Mayunga for the Kenya Grande Finale, I told him on numreous occasions, that he was going to win this competition... and he did!

I really want to thank Steve Agutu, AND Anethy Muga for believing in me enough to entrust me with the job. What a happy ending. We certainly should do this again next year.


Akon: Akon’s shimmering, soulful voice has propelled countless hits across genres—from pop and R&B to hip-hop and dance. In addition to his own chart-dominating singles «Smack That» and «I Wanna Love You», he’s made a staggering 300 guest appearances for icons including Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Lil Wayne, R. Kelly, and Eminem. With over 35 million albums sold worldwide, five Grammy Award nominations, and 45 Billboard Hot 100 songs under his belt, he’s simply unstoppable.

Lynnsha: Lynnsha is a multi-platinium artist from the French Carribbean. She started to sing at 7 years old and debuts her career as a chorist for major Afro-Caribbean artists. In 2004, her first single “Rendez-vous” met great success. She was featured in «Secret Lover» with Wyclef Jean, and with hottest French singers such as Passi and Admiral T. Lynnsha collaborates with Craig David on “Walking Away”. She reached the top of the charts with “Maldon” featuring Fanny J and Louisy Joseph.

Devyne Stephens: Devyne Stephens has amassed a very impressive track record and list of accomplishments. He has created mega-stars and has had an undeniable footprint on the development of some of the biggest entertainers of our time including such notable artist as Akon, R Kelly, Usher, Mary J Blige, Mariah Carey, Lady GaGa, Gwen Stefani, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Pink, Sting, Ludacris, Ciara, TLC and many more. Devyne has been referred to at times as the “Berry Gordy” of his generation!!

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Where to Find Inspiration to Develop a Soulful Voice (Part 1)

In case this hadn’t crossed your mind, a soulful interpretation of a song comes from within. A tone that touches the soul of another person is perhaps the most wonderful gift from God that only you, the singer, endowed with the gift of voice can deliver. The definitive school of soul music that has inspired a multitude of genres and transcended generations in the last half a century—the way I see it, goes back to the 1970s. And if you really want to know, the record label that brought us the greatest soul music of all time in that era was Barry Gordy’s Motown Records. In this article, I’m going to give you some tips on the music you ought to be listening to IF you want to ignite that soulful flare from within. Learning from a stable of legendary singers like 70s Motown pre-computer, pre-auto tune productions will have you experience your growth possibilities as a singer take on a whole new dimension.

In my first installment, looking at my own definitive 70s Motown record collection, I draw inspiration from Stevie Wonder with Signed, Sealed, Delivered; Detroit Spinners with It’s A Shame; Diana Ross – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough; Marvin Gaye – Abraham, Martin And John; Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye – Stop Look And Listen; The Supremes – Stoned Love; The Commodores – Brick House; The Commodores – Flying High; The Commodores – Zoom and last but not least, Thelma Houston – Don’t Leave Me This Way.

I will be listing more Motown material in my next installment, but for now, what I’d like you to do is to run a search for these songs online to get a feel for the way songs were delivered back then—with so much passion, so much soul… and be inspired to develop your own soulful style by learning from the greats! 

I offer FREE vocal coaching via WhatsApp. Download FREE MP3 to vocal exercises here! 

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Diary Of A Vocal Coach: Training Sessions Part 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9

Training session na Mayunga (mshindi wa Airtel Trace Music Star Tanzania), nikimuandaa kwa shindano la Airtel Trace Music Star Grande Finale litakalo fanyika huko Nairobi, Kenya tarehe 28 Machi, 2015. Kijana wetu yuko vizuri, tumpigie kure.

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Diary Of A Vocal Coach: Training Sessions Part 1, 2, 3 & 4

Training session na Mayunga (mshindi wa Airtel Trace Music Star Tanzania), nikimuandaa kwa shindano la Airtel Trace Music Star Grande Finale litakalo fanyika huko Nairobi, Kenya tarehe 28 Machi, 2015. Kijana wetu yuko vizuri, tumpigie kure.


How to Quickly Fix Tricky Pitch Segments of a Song

{Published in Business Times Newspaper March 27, 2015} If you’ve experienced pitching difficulty when trying to deliver a song, you will appreciate what this article is about to deliver—some handy tips on how to fix tricky pitching issues that oftentimes serve to torment and frustrate the singer. Common hurdles are the low notes that sound rather muddy, and the high notes that sound rather pinched or strident—OR weak and unsavory falsetto. The thing about it is if you’re a musician worth your salt, you will know when your vocals just aren’t sounding right. So let’s go over the common complaints afflicting the singer, and what you can do to quickly fix these seemingly insurmountable shortcomings in your vocal range.

 I will begin with the high notes and take you down to the lower register. Let’s say you’re finding it difficult to hit a clean and crisp high note without resorting to a lighter-production falsetto tone that, unless you’re doing it for special effect, doesn’t sound quite right. The reason is simple. When you get to a certain octave, what is happening is you’re disconnecting. And here’s a quick solution: try to imagine a straight line that goes from your chest to your head. The quick-fix way to align your vocals to travel in a straight line is to simply hum your way up. Take a deep breath, and then begin by humming the melody of the song in your speaking voice (the low note) and push that up into your upper register… into what we call the ‘head voice’ (you’ll feel the resonance in your head). And if you begin to disconnect on your way up, lean forward as you approach the top note. Repositioning your posture by leaning forward alleviates the gravitational pull to allow the muscles surrounding your larynx to stay relaxed and to not interfere with your tone production. That’s all there is to it. With the help of special arpeggio exercises, try to practice the hum—daily if you can—to improve your tone production and chest to head voice connection. Once you get the hang of this, there’ll be no need to lean forward. Hitting the highs will come naturally. Use the forward lean strategy only as a short-term solution to help you stay connected.

And what about the low notes? Begin your hum at the bottom of your range and as you approach the top note, lean forward to prevent you from reaching or having your larynx muscles recruited to produce the tone (as when this happens it causes strain). On your way down, gradually begin to tilt your trunk back to the erect posture as you did at the beginning of this exercise. Keep working your way down the scale into your chest voice as deep as you can go. If you do this correctly, you’ll find that your voice in your lower range is now crisp and clear. If you’ve had voice lessons before you’ll be well aware of how this feels. Download free mp3 to arpeggios and descending scales here.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

How to Smoothly Sing Your Way through the Passage Areas of Your Range

{Published in Business Times Newspaper March 10, 2015} If you’ve ever been fearful of using or exploring your range when you sing, this article will offer tips on how to get over your fears and most importantly, how to remedy your situation. I frequently hear people say, I can’t sing high notes. Or, my voice really hurts when I sing only a couple of songs. Complaints are by and large pretty similar in the sense that, there is only one solution to all of these seemingly varied vocal problems. Yes, once you’ve done it, you’ve fixed all your vocal issues in one fell swoop. I will explain.

As you sing higher into your range, you may have experienced that you begin to tense up around the throat, feel uncomfortable and even switch registers in a manner that actually doesn’t sound right. The reason this happens is because you are encountering areas where muscular and or resonance activity make it difficult to negotiate smooth transitions between vocal cord adjustments. Most singers know these areas all too well. They are places where the voice jams up, suddenly shifts in quality, or even breaks—things that can discourage someone from ever exploring the full potential of their voice. And so you begin to think, you can’t do this!

We, however, refer to these areas as passage areas. That's because, when you approach them the right way, they become passage ways between where you are coming from and where you want to go in your vocal range. And there’s only one way to get through these passage areas—by doing specific exercises that cut through these areas.

Your first passage area is the most critical. It's where your outer muscles (if they haven't done so already) are most likely to enter into the adjustment process. When they do, they pull on and tighten around the outside of your larynx in an effort to stretch your vocal cords to get the necessary tension for the pitch or dynamic level you require. However, stretching your cords in this manner causes your entire singing mechanism—tone and words—to jam up! Fortunately, there is a better and much easier way to stretch your vocal cords to achieve the necessary tensions without disrupting your tone-making process or your word-making process.

The key is to do less in order to do more. To be specific, the higher you sing the less air you should and conditions you to do just that.) When you reduce the
amount of air you send to your vocal cords, you make it possible for the muscles inside your larynx to stretch your vocal cords by themselves. Your outer muscles are less likely to interfere because there isn't as much air to hold back. Your outer muscles will interfere in the vibration process whenever you use more air than your vocal cords and the other muscles inside your larynx are able to handle.
use. (In training, this is an automatic reflex and
To help you get started with singing higher into your range, I offer FREE vocal coaching via WhatsApp that includes FREE mp3 downloads to vocal exercises. 

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Imminent Demise of Auto-Tune Singer: Are You Prepared for the Revolution?

PUBLISHED IN BUSINESS TIMES NEWSPAPER 13th MARCH 2015 == Auto-Tune is an audio processor, created by Antares Audio Technologies which uses a proprietary device to measure and alter pitch in vocal and instrumental music recording and performances. It was originally intended to disguise or correct off-key inaccuracies, allowing vocal tracks to be perfectly tuned despite originally being slightly off-key. Well, it didn’t stop there. In recent years, the auto tune has become the lifeblood of the bad singer and has helped create the superstars we know today that couldn’t sing their way out of a paper bag no-matter what—singers who owe their entire ‘singing’ careers to the auto tune, and paradoxically, the saga continues even on live performances where an on-set studio would auto-tune their vocals as they performed. The latter being a costly affair, and that’s why the next best thing and more commonplace would be to not sing at all. Lip synching as it were, and singing on top of prerecorded vocals being pretty much the in thing—AND what beggars belief—ACCEPTED by the public. But things are about to change. Are you ready for the revolution?

Let’s stay in Africa for a moment to discuss this topic. When was the last time you heard a record that didn’t have vocals auto-tuned from start to finish? And I don’t mean the occasional vocoder vocals sprinkled in good taste, but the full whack treatment of it throughout the entire track! Has that got you thinking? What actually hacks ME off is when live performances at the MTV Awards in South Africa are done in this fashion. Well, word has it, music lovers on the continent are beginning to wake up to this proverbial con and you’ll find more and more, singers who originally depended entirely on gimmickry are now having to perform live—to their embarrassment, obviously, because of their inability to hold a simple note. Coke Studio Africa, with their live band format, have perhaps unwittingly unveiled some masks and rattled some cages on the popular TV show. I don’t know whether to thank them for it… I’ll let you be the judge and juror. But if deception by way of the auto-tune is on its way out, what are YOU, the singer or aspiring singer of tomorrow, going to do about it?

Well, the BAD news is, you’re going to have to learn to sing using special exercises to develop and condition the voice. And the GOOD news is that it is perfectly doable. So if you think this is rocket science, dispel that thought from your mind right now! YOU can do it if you really want. Hey, in the 80s and 90s there was no auto-tune and they sounded splendid—much better than they do today. I have nothing against technological advancement, but in this instance, the musical fraternity—obsessed with pitch perfection and opting for technology (rather than vocal training) to cover up bad vocals—has, fundamentally brought about the imminent demise of  their own creation—the auto tune singer. If you want to harness your full potential as a singer, get some vocal training!

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