What does a Singer do?

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What is a Singer?

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

A Singer is a specialized type of Performer.

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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.

What is the workplace of a Singer like?

A singer can work in a variety of locations, but for the most part will perform on a stage or record in a studio. Special event singers often travel to perform at various venues including:

  • Weddings
  • Parties
  • Dances
  • Corporate Events
  • Fairs and Festivals

Theatrical singers are live performers who often perform nightly performances at a theatre. Opera singers are a specialization of theatrical singers that typically perform in a home theatre they are employed by. A theatrical singer in a main role will usually have their own dressing room and voice coach. Supporting or back-up singers will often share a common dressing area and receive less perks than a singer in a main role.

Professional recording singers exist outside of the entertainment industry in small numbers and are typically employed in marketing sectors for use in marketing jingles and advertisements. These singers will usually work as collaborators and writers of the pieces they sing and will work out of an office.

Professional singers in the music industry are the most noted public figures in the singing profession. Professional singers record their tracks in studios and often will spend hours in the editing booth with producers. Singers at this level are considered to be at the top of the profession and often have demanding travel and work schedules. Singers will be required to tour cities for months at a time performing on stage and promoting their music in stores and events, and will have tour buses to live out of while on the road.


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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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