Los Angeles Vocal Studio
A student of mine sent this quote to me from Robert Plant recently. If you don't know Robert Plant, listen to Led Zeppelin. My favorite song of all time by them is "The Ocean".
Plant's voice was raw, sexual, high pitched and far from perfect. And guess what? People loved it. For me, I am never trying to get a singer to sound like anything but themselves. The most important thing to me is that they deliver boundless emotion (on pitch) and make me feel something. They have to connect and however they need to deliver this to me is all that matters. Last month, I listened to a Song Exploder podcast featuring Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey isolates the vocals- demonstrating the iconic band's vocal production behind the instruments. They are far from tight and even a bit pitchy, but it doesn't sound this way on the final recording. I know well from being in the studio that having sloppy/loose background vocals can actually create a WORLD of frequencies that elevate the overall feel of the track if you get them right in the recording process.
For a current example,I've had countless students come to me wanting to learn Rihanna's Higher. This song overflows with cracks, yells, growls and screeches in her voice harkening back to the best blues singers such as Bessie Smith and Sarah Vaughan. It resonates with my singers, because it is filled with emotion and the lyrics authentically pour out of Rihanna.
The point is, being an artist is not about copping someone else's style. To be an artist, you must have your own voice which comes from having an opinion and strong sense of self. If your voice has a flaw, it might so happen to be what makes it unique so refine it and accentuate it! (As long as you maintain singing in tune and still have rhythm :-)