Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dissecting Usher- from child singer to male vocalist

Usher started in the early 90s singing as a child on Star Search and other popular venues.  He is that rare star that has spent his life in the business.  What was so amazing about his career is that as a vocalist he made albums from puberty to adulthood successfully.

in 1994, he launched his first album self- titled Usher.  It was a well made piece of work that highlighted his natural ability.  It also foreshadowed a great career if he could maintain.  Around the same time Tevin Campbell was the larger star as his voice is also very strong and emotive.

Voice changing for men can be brutal, not just to a male's confidence but to their actual ability.  You have to re-learn how to sing certain parts and how to achieve the sound that can more easily before.  often, with a voice change, your vocal range changes as well.

Usher was not unique, his voice changed and he had to do a lot of vocal warmups and coaching to maximize his voice after.  I remember his first hit Think of You with Bad Boy Entertainment.  His voice was both sultry and smooth, his range was so high.  I remember wondering if his new album would be able to capture the promise of the first.

However, on Usher's breakout cd in 1997  My Way, he demonstrated his new voice post his voice change was better than ever.  The funny thing is Usher has said how challenging it was for him to sing on that CD, but listening to it you cannot tell.  His voice is stronger, his falsetto is beautiful and he leans into notes effortlessly.

He was able to work with several vocal coaches to master his new sound. It is smart for any professional singer to maintain the discipline of singing.  It's both natural and learned ability.

I bet it was scary as an artist, the not knowing if the sound would be good enough, the fear that his voice might still be undergoing changes and the possibility of not living up to the expectations and hopes of so many.  But he pulled it together and produced several breakout hits of the year-  My Way, Nice and Slow, and You Make Me Wanna.

I think he voice peaked on those songs and emotionally peaked on the entire Confessions album. It wasn't until the Confession LP that i realized Usher could be one the best male vocalist.  He had done several songs that were catchy and likable. but I felt he had not shown his full talent as a vocalist until that album.

Usher used emotional singing to connect with the audience in a way he had never before.  You could feel his emotions, his list, his sadness , his hope in every song.  I think that is why that album resonates with so many fans. It's not just a vocal masterpiece, it connects the artist and the audience.

The truth is Usher has been able to do what most artists cannot which is have a longevity that is marked with quality vocals.

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