Question: I have been singing for a couple of years and have been trying to develop my own style, but feel that I’m sounding too much like someone else. Do you have any suggestions for developing my voice, so that I don’t sound like any one artist?
Answer: By actively listening to your favorite artists and then mixing each of their distinctive sounds, you can develop a fresh vocal style all your own.
Listen To More Than One Artist
You must actively listen to your favorite artists, and try to pick up something from each of them. It is very important that you listen to more than one person, when trying to come up with your own style, or you’ll generally end up sounding just like the one artist you’ve been listening to! For a few weeks, do nothing but listen deeply for the individual styles of the artists that you pick and listen to their music over and over again. The artists you most “connect with” will be the best ones to try and follow. You are going to have to learn to imitate, but the goal is not to learn to sound just like them (all the time), but to get a “piece of their voice” for yourself.
The next step is to record yourself singing the songs that you have been listening to while attempting to sound like the artist. I know this goes contrary to what I just said in the last part of this article, but it’s important, while learning, to imitate great singers. Close your eyes and see yourself as being that person. Then rewind and listen back to how close you are. Don’t worry if you don’t like your voice (many of the greatest singers hate their own voices on recordings (more on why this is in a later article). You are just listening to see how close you can come to sounding like them.
Record As Another Artist
After you feel that you’ve done a pretty good job in the above step, try to record the same song, but acting as if you are another one of the vocalists that you have been listening to (like a cover version by that artist). Now there is no way of knowing exactly how the song would sound by that singer (unless that singer also recorded the song and it’s readily available!), so you’ll have to do the best impression.
Multiple Personality Singer
Once you have completed the above two steps, you’ll want to try to mix the two (or more artists) together into one recording. You’ll hear yourself starting to develop your own vocal style. When people ask you who you sound like (most vocalists get this question when talking about the fact that they sing) you’ll be saying, “Well…I am a mix of “artist A” with a little of “artist B” and a side of “artist C”). You get the idea!
Continued Vocal Education
Make sure that as you listen to new music, you take some time to “actively listen” to the singer. Even when you feel that you have fully established your vocal style, you may find little gems of vocal style in each new song, or new artist you listen to. Repeat the steps above to integrate the new sound into your own voice.