— How to sing R&B – How to become an R&B singer.
If you’re a fan of contemporary R&B singers today, such as Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, and Rihanna, and want to learn how to sing R&B music, then this article is for you! R&B is a very specific style of music – think pop and rock with an “urban” feel. To get a better idea of how to approach R&B songs, check out these musical tips!
1. Listen to the greats
Start out by listening and studying R&B, also known as “Rhythm and Blues.” Rhythm and Blues started in the 1940s and was popular in African-American culture. Singers such as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and James Brown were some of R&B’s founding fathers. The style eventually progressed to bring out artists such as TLC, Brandy, and Boyz II Men.
2. Practice vocal improvising
R&B music is known for improvising and riffing vocally, so start practicing improvisation and coming up with your own melodies. Find a simple blues scale to riff over, and create your own made-up melody. Or try performing a riff or scatting over a well-known melody. You can also buy many books that come with audio CDs to practice with at Berklee Press; many start right at the beginning with the basics of riffing and vocal improvisation.
3. Start singing
First, I suggest you take a look at simple jazz ballads, such as:
“God Bless the Child” – Billie Holiday
“Misty” – Erroll Garner
“Summertime” – Ella Fitzgerald
“Body and Soul” (jazz standard)
“At Last” – Etta James
“My Funny Valentine” – Ella Fitzgerald
Practice your vocal improvisation and riffing in the solo section. Then try a more contemporary R&B song that you are familiar with. You don’t have to copy the artist exactly, but use their vocals as a guideline.
Ideas for contemporary R&B ballads to learn include:
“Fallin’” – Alicia Keys
“One Sweet Day” – Mariah Carey
“Unbreak My Heart” – Toni Braxton
“Ordinary People” – John Legend
“All My Life” – K-Ci and JoJo
4. Analyze song lyrics
Find that R&B soul in yourself, and don’t be afraid to show it! Many R&B songs have compelling lyrics about love, overcoming struggle, inspiration, and hope. Find a song that speaks to you, and make it your own. Also, don’t be afraid to try a little writing of your own. Start out with writing a poem, and then put your lyrics to a melody. R&B artist Alicia Keys is notorious for writing and performing her own music – she would not be where she is today if she did not take a stab in the dark at writing her own R&B tunes. This is what makes her such an authentic artist, because what she is writing and singing about comes from her own personal journey and experiences, and truly shapes her as an artist.
R&B music is a unique genre. It’s OK if it doesn’t come natural to you at first, but educating yourself by listening to the greats and practicing specific R&B techniques in your voice lessons will definitely help you become a better R&B singer!
R&B is a popular musical genre that attracts many listeners, as well as aspiring artists. While the desire to become an R&B singer is shared by fans across the globe, few ever take the steps necessary to turn their dreams into reality. R&B singers must possess talent and drive beyond the obvious attributes of vocal quality and ability. Taking the time to develop your total package could make you into the R&B singer you always knew you could be.
Assess your singing skills and career goals. Is your desire to sell millions of records while performing to sold-out crowds as an R&B solo artist, or to perform with your own R&B group in the local club scene? R& B music features a wide range of performance opportunities that can easily align with corresponding skill levels and desires. Be honest with yourself as you determine your singing attributes and weaknesses to help define your specific course of action. Although being a stellar shower singer is commendable, it will not guarantee a successful R&B singing career.
Use R&B greats as inspirational guides. Focus your attention to the music and careers of icons like Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner to help build your artistic concentration and knowledge. Listen to R&B music from yesterday and today to help broaden your vocal creativity. There is much to learn from singers who’ve blessed the microphone in the past, as well as those from the present. Artists like Beyonce and Usher are examples of younger R&B singers who are worthy to be studied as you start your own singing career. Embrace the struggles and triumphs of successful R&B singers to help fuel your own singing passion.