By Ed Melendez
I had severely lost my voice recently. As someone who uses it for his job on a regular basis, it can be quite frustrating. It has taken about three weeks for me to get it to where I am comfortable using it to sing again. But I found that in order to regain my voice I had to really re-learn to strengthen my voice again. So I decided to do this the same way I learned to sing in the first place.
I’ve often been asked how I learned to sing. Well honestly, I’ve always considered myself a songwriter first and anything that helps facilitate that (singing, playing an instrument) second. I’m also asked if I’ve ever taken voice lessons. The short answer is I haven’t.
Growing up, my family certainly loved music, but they mostly played the “radio“. So this, of course, means I had no one in my family with the musical gene, except for myself. So the advice was pretty scarce.
So maybe you’re asking, if I didn’t have any formal training, how exactly did I learn to sing? Well, the short answer is, I taught myself. But my lessons were from some of the most talented singers to ever grace music.
I learned early in my musical journey that I didn’t really have skills for singing. Well, serious singing anyway. My voice had no control, no range, and no ability to be used to its full potential. But it dawned on me, those singing on the radio did have those attributes.
So I decided I would try and learn from those voices. I would study what I liked about my favorite singer’s voice and then try to reproduce it with my own voice. Talk about a daunting challenge. Lots of trial and error. But I had to learn to listen really well.
So that brings us to this post. I decided to use this post to share some tidbits of what I have learned about singing and about the voices and the artist who helped me learn to sing. So I will begin a new blog series that features a new vocal teacher each week, and what I learned from them. Hopefully, this will be helpful to other vocalists as well.
This week’s teacher: Dennis DeYoung.
Dennis DeYoung (an American singer) was the voice of the epic 70′s-80′s rock band STYX. Dennis has always been credited with having quite a unique singing style and voice. Dennis and STYX filled the top 40 charts with songs like Babe, Lady, Best of Times, Come Sail Away, and Show Me The Way.
A few fun facts about Dennis. He also is a self-taught singer. His mother was a huge fan of 50′s 60′s recording artist, Johnny Mathis, who also is credited with having a very unique voice in his own right. Dennis wanted nothing more than to please his mother (as Dennis tells the story), so he decided he wanted to sing just like Mr. Mathis. This would ultimately have a great influence on Dennis’s own vocal tone and style.
Dennis is a tenor. His vocal style has a very strong theatrical vibrato and he uses hard consonants in the way he annunciates words. One other odd, or maybe even uniquely quirky and distinguishable characteristic about Dennis’ singing style is Dennis’ propensity to sing certain words with a bit of a British accent. A unique quality I find rather appealing about Dennis’ voice.
So this week with the advances in technology I will take on Dennis DeYoung’s/STYX song Lady. Originally released in 1974. It was first released on the album Styx II and was a local hit in the band’s native Chicago, but initially failed to chart nationally. Eventually that all changed.
Hope you enjoy my vocal rendition of the STYX classic, Lady.
- Lady Ed Melendez 3:00