What is a Singer?

A Singer is a specialized type of Performer. Also known as: Backup Vocalist, Back Up Vocalist, Backing Vocalist, Lead Vocalist, Professional Singer, Vocalist.

A singer is someone who vocalizes musical sounds with tone and pitch, and uses his or her own voice to produce music. Singers may sing solo or in a group, and are oftentimes accompanied by instrumental music.

The history of singing goes back to the earliest recordings of mankind (as early as 800 B.C.), and songs are believed to have been used even before the development of modern languages. In western culture, singers were often restricted to only singing in churches until the fourteenth century. The rise of operas and performances thereafter laid the groundwork for today's professional singers.

Professional singers are usually highly trained and also possess a certain level of natural singing ability including a wide vocal range or pleasant vocal resonation. Singing is an accepted art form that is taught in most public and private schools. It can also be a fun activity and be casual entertainment, such as karaoke.

The physical act of singing occurs as air passes through the larynx, throat, and mouth, and it's interesting to note that vocal resonation in singing involves seven areas of the human body:

  • Chest
  • Tracheal tree
  • Larynx
  • Pharynx
  • Oral Cavity
  • Nasal Cavity
  • Sinuses

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What does a Singer do?

A singer is an artist or performer who crafts a vocal song using various techniques and training. Singers often practice daily and will hire professional voice coaches to help them hone their craft. Singers may write their own music or sing music written by others. In addition to singing, singers may work as music teachers or voice coaches. Professional singers are highly talented and have an excellent ear for identifying tone and pitch. Singers often freelance and are contracted on a per job basis, either as a singer or as a consultant or judge in singing competitions.

Professional singers may be employed by a record label that finances the development and recording of their music. Other singers may be employed by companies including radio advertising firms and variety show theatres.

How to become a Singer

Some highly talented singers have gotten their break into the music industry through highly competitive talent competitions. Some have had success self-promoting their talents in video clips on the internet that when liked by viewers, are recommended to important people in the music industry.

Getting a start in professional singing can begin in a variety of ways:

  • Talent Competitions
  • Auditioning For Singing Parts in Theatre Productions
  • Becoming a Back Up Singer For a Band
  • Open Microphone Nights at Clubs
  • Being The Entertainment in a Restaurant or Bar
  • Samples Sent to Music Executives
  • Singing at Weddings and Events
  • Being Discovered on the Internet in Video Clips

Singing is a highly competitive industry that for many is challenging to pursue. It is a performance based career and individuals considering this field should not be afraid to be on stage and in front of an audience. Singing does not require any formal education per se, but singers must have a developed musical ability to sing songs that will be pleasing to the ear. Many singers spend years training and developing their vocal abilities. A successful singer will be able to capture the attention of the intended audience and perfectly navigate and control the pitch, tone, and rhythm of their voice.

Singing as an art is widely recognized and many four year universities offer bachelor of art degrees in singing and music.

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Further Reading

  • Singing Tips

    Here are answers to questions I'm frequently asked about singing, vocal technique and singing lessons.

  • Sophie Bevan's Top 10 Tips For Becoming An Opera Star

    Soprano Sophie Bevan was crowned young singer of the year at the 2013 International Opera Awards, aged 29.

  • Myths And Realities Of Professional Singing

    Gregoy Stapp’s pamphlet, Myths & Realities of Professional Singing, grew out of his frustration that many institutions and individuals exploit and profit from the dreams of young singers without first explaining the limited opportunities for a successful career, or revealing the financial and personal toll that often must be endured in such a pursuit.

  • 6 Steps To Better Backup Singing

    Much is written about the solo singer or lead singer experience, but what about the special requirements of those singers not in the limelight—the lowly but oh-so-important backup singer?

  • Background Singer

    The background singer provides backup to other singers and musicians in recordings, commercial jingles, or live performances. Background singers can be employed, or they may freelance.

  • What Qualifications Must A Singer Have?

    Professional singers need discipline, perseverance, a great deal of practice and many other skills -- in addition to luck -- to succeed.

  • How To Become Successful In The Music Business

    There are three elements that make anything successful – a goal, a plan and a team. The music business is no different.

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