Advice needed. Singer with no "soul"

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Gmis, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. Gmis


    Dec 1, 2014
    Hello everyone, I hope you can shed some light for me. Read through some pages of the forum, but didn't find the info I was looking for and I also don't know whom to ask.
    Original band, a singer with great technic -years of coaching, easy to work with, hears your opinion and tries to converge to what you like, remembers most of the lyrics, has experience, etc. But he sounds like "he has no soul". That's not just my perspective, the other band members think so too and so think friends, family, etc that have been to our gigs or rehearsals. He is just not persuacive enough. Like he doesn't mean any of the words he is singing, like he is just carrying out a job.
    Now, as far as I know, he likes the songs and he obviously doesn't think that way for himself, he believes that he is singing with passion. Though he is not the one who wrote the lyrics, so I don't know how much he relates to them.
    I don't know how to explain to him what "singing with soul" means. Or how to break it down to technics. I just intuitively feel it as a matter of energy.
    Any tips for how to better communicate with him, how to guide him?
    The way things are now, our songs strike as much less interesting. He is after all the lead singer, the first thing someone notices.
    I was thinking that directors somehow guide actors to get in the role, maybe that's a starting point?
    Long post, didn't manage to avoid it. Thanks in advance for any comments.
  2. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    What style would you say your music is?

    I think that maybe you can provide him some examples of what the group is looking for, so he can have a point of reference on his singing style. You may also have to dissect it a bit more to figure out what specifically he isn't doing that he should. Just asking him to sing with more soul might not give him the right message. Singers really have to "sell" the song, more so than other members of the band. Some people just don't embrace that as well as others. Got any sound samples?
  3. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Springtown, Texas
    Singing is part acting. You have to make the audience think you are pouring out your heart.
    First, the singer has to understand the meaning and emotion behind the lyrics. Then you have to put your mindset into the meaning and emotion. That is the concept, but I can't tell you how to turn that into what you are looking for.
    Silly as it sounds, maybe a drama couch could help.
    Steve-Mo, Andre678, jamro217 and 7 others like this.
  4. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Hey, Gmis--if your band is at this stage, you may want to bring in someone to work with the whole band on staging, showmanship. Someone exactly as you described--a theater director or actor who can look at what you do objectively, and help everyone (though in this case your singer in particular) to be more committed to the message in each song you play. My vocal group regularly brought in a well-respected 30yr old actor/director to do just that. You may find that person in the academic community, or working in the professional theater world.

    If you were the one to find the consultant, you could privately discuss the situation before the session, and keep any embarrassment out of the equation. You also may find that everyone has something to learn during the session! They can help you with transitions, timing, physical stuff and even avoiding fatigue on long gigs.

    You might have to pay 35-75€ per hour, or something, but it could be money well-spent on your band's package.
  5. dtripoli


    Aug 15, 2010
    Some people seem to believe you have to be born with it or at least nurtured with it to sing or play soulfully.
    While that definitely helps it can be trained into you.
    I worked with a vocal instructor who regularly turned white bread, square vocalist into decent soulful singers.
    I'm not sure what vocal exercises she used but I do know she had them listen to and copy Stevie Wonder and
    Luther Vandross repeatedly to pick up on their phrasing, styling and "soul"
    DrummerwStrings likes this.
  6. Is that like a casting couch? ;)
    ahc likes this.
  7. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    Nothing better (or rarer) than a singer with soul. I agree with @Gravedigger Dav to a point, that it is definitely part acting, part charisma, and a little something else that is intangible. But it's also something, I think, you either have or you don't. I worked with a lot of really good singers -- sang in tune, hit all the notes, accentuated correctly -- but only a few really had soul. Those few are blessed gems to work with.
    T-Funk and Helix like this.
  8. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Are there any changes or improvements you could make in your own playing or stage presence, that would make the band more "soulful" and inspire your band mates to up their game?
    Maureen M, CalBuzz51 and pbass2 like this.
  9. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Find a group with a vocalist who your band agrees is representative "soul" that you seek and have your singer give a listen and copy him.
    DrummerwStrings and gebass6 like this.
  10. solarfly

    solarfly Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2016
    OMG we have this singer we've been working with lately (who I met through our music school's open mic nights) who brings it so good, the stars come down from the sky to hear her voice. She's amazing. Jazz, sometimes country, sometimes blues. She's a small woman but if she needs to hit that note with pain, passion and anguish from the heart, she'll be half way to the ground grabbing the mic and digging that note out from somewhere real. God, she's good, I get chills. Been working on a live recording we did of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On", so I've heard her about 900 times :)
  11. Gmis


    Dec 1, 2014
    wow! so many replies in such a short period ,thanks everybody!
    Seanto, thanks for checking us. Though I opened this thread for a new band, with a new singer. We still don't have anything published or decently recorded, but I am uploading a small sample from one of our songs. Not sure though if what I mention can become apparent through just that. The style in this band still revolves around psych-rock.

    We frequently exchange songs that we like with each other and focus on one instrument or the other and so we do with the voice too. But that doesn't seem to be the trick. He follows the style, but still, no "soul". I am trying to dissect this, but so far I've hit a wall. It's the first time for me that I have to work so consciously over the vocals. Until now the guys I've played with just had it naturally.

    I will follow this lead for start. Maybe talking about what I was thinking when writing the lyrics and convey the overal feeling is something I should have already done. I was reading on advice for directors to help actors get in character after I posted this and they suggested using phrases like "make me feel sad" "desperate", etc. Something to visualize maybe also help. Like the feeling of relaxation, watching the clouds, etc.
    Thanks for this. Maybe it seemed kind of obvious, but I was missing it.

    That is a very good point and I will suggest it to the rest of the band.
    Not sure if they will be willing to spend money on something like this though :p
    We hope to do some recording in the near future and badget will be tight!

    Dtripoli and Stumbo, I think our singer might actually had "too much" of training and copying other singers, that somewhere along the way he lost/didnt found his own style.
    He copies the tonality, way of pronouncing (short/long syllables), but never the actuall nerve. He just mimic it.
    You can feel that he is just performing it, not feeling it, not meaning it.

    My intuition totally agrees with you, but I have the belief that one can be trained and given the proper space and motiv,achieve comparable to the talented ones. I hope so :D

    I will have to give more thought to that.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
  12. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Have him listen to David Bowie, from the early classics, to the latest stuff. He was genius at adopting whatever vibe (or even different personas) would communicate the intent of the piece.
    A song is a story, ultimately. You have to sing (heck, you have to PLAY) like you're telling a story.
    DrummerwStrings likes this.
  13. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Is he picking the songs, and do you vet them before they go into the repertoire? They have to have passion for it....
  14. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    I'm sorry, this is a total derail, but I couldn't stop thinking and laughing about "Don 'No Soul' Simmons" when I read the thread title. Yes, that's David Allen Griers in the "title role".


    EDIT: For anyone who doesn't know where this came from, it's part of a late 80's movie called Amazon Women on the Moon. It's so bad that it comes around full circle and is almost kinda funny, especially when you recognize some of the people who are in it.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
    T-Funk, jamro217, BrotherRay and 7 others like this.
  15. Low8

    Low8 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    Yeah, give him a good dose of the soulful music you're aiming for. Feed him full of YouTube clips as acting, charisma and stage presence are all part of the deal.

    If it doesn't work out, I'm sure there's an R.E.M. tribute band that would LOVE to have him!
  16. Jloch86


    Aug 1, 2016
    One man's perception of soul is another man's perception of a pretentious dingleberry.
    Gmis and LowActionHero like this.
  17. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    I dunno. You can make vinegar out of wine, but you cannot make wine out of vinegar.
    JRA and Thumb n Fingers like this.
  18. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Show him this...

    Gmis likes this.
  19. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    In the clip you posted, it does indeed sound like the guy can sing decently, but something essential is missing from the delivery. He is reminding me of Jim Morrison, but.... I want a little more.
  20. Grumry


    Jul 6, 2016
    Does he get nervous or scared on stage and he can't fully preform? Are rehearsals just as lame as live shows?
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