Write Away Magazine - June Issue


The Lyric writers magazine



When we think of dominating, powerful rock

voices in the 60’s, a few names stand out

and have stood the test of time. Amongst

these is Janice Joplin. I’ve always thought of her

as the female Robert Plant (Please don’t kill me for

that). Raw, powerful and her voice helped define

a whole generation.

To this day, she is regarded as one of the all time

great singers and even years after her passing,

new singers these days are occasionally compared

to her. Such is the status she attained within

the industry.

From a coaching point of view, she’s not one I’d

instantly go to as an example of technique …. And

that’s the exact point of this article.

One of the things aspiring singers (and many

polarized coaches) do is try to arm wrestle someone’s

voice into a particular sound. You know? -

the ‘proper’ way to sing. Whilst the singer may

now be technically proficient, unless performance

AND emotion is created, they may end up soulless

in the process.

There are a number of basic rules of singing

tuition. Firstly, do no harm. Any technique that

leaves a singer hoarse or sore is poor technique,

because the vocal folds are being stressed. The

most powerful of excellent voices don’t do this.

Secondly, no artistic bias. The diversity of successful

voices out there is virtually infinite. So

long as the singer is singing safely, and it sounds

cool, it’s appropriate. Did Janice hurt her voice

while she was singing? We will never know. But

there’s one thing she did and this is my third


Behind every lyric is an emotion and behind every

emotion is the intent of the writer.

When a singer sounds technically great but

doesn’t captivate the audience, guaranteed they

don’t understand the song or they don’t know how

to emote correctly. Nearly 100% of the time when

I ask an aspiring singer what the song they are

performing is about, they have no idea. When we

get to the source of the writer and discover the

emotion that’s appropriate for the song, they

instantly know what to shoot for when they’re performing.

Vulnerability is the path to this. The singer that

stays emotionally reserved will never be able to

generate truly amazing performances.

The primary purpose of any artform is to cause an

emotional reaction. Said another way, I don’t want

your head to intrigue my head, I want your heart

to touch my heart. Whether it’s looking at a photo,

walking into a beautiful building, reading a book or

listening to a song, win our hearts and you’ve won

the game. And this is exactly what Janice Joplin





She knew how to tell the story. Every, Single,

Time. As writers, you’re very aware of the blank

sheet of paper that stares back at you when you

decide to write a song. Slowly, you get a concept

that turns into ideas, that turns into words, that

turn into verses, choruses and rewrites as the

song takes form and gets closer to your intended


24 www.writeawaymagazine.co.uk

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