I am very excited to have Nashville vocal coach Jaime Babbitt joining us at Green Hills Guitar Studio. Aside from being a really great human being, Jaime is a songwriter, a very experienced singer, an in-demand vocal instructor, speaker and recent author with her book, Working With Your Voice, published by Alfred in 2011.
I first met Jaime in 2009 when I was working on my first cd, ‘disengage.’ I was experiencing a new creative burst after long months of no writing and creating, my life was up in the air, my emotions were raw, my center was shaken, and I realized later, I was looking for my voice in a lot of ways. I guess it was time for me to stretch and grow.
Vocally, I had experience singing in choir during high school and college. While in college, I had took private voice lessons, performed live consistently in bar bands where I sang lead and harmony vocals. I also sang with my own original band where I carried most of the lead vocals.
With the songs for ‘disengage’ came the need to develop a new part of my voice. I was writing songs mainly on acoustic guitar, late at night, while living in an apartment south of Nashville. Many of the songs were pretty quiet, intimate and needed to be delivered using a voice with a specific tone and dynamic. The sound and performance I was trying to capture was at times high in my register and I needed to move between my regular singing voice and my falsetto.
It felt “right” while writing the material, and also singing in my apartment at odd hours. But when I entered the recording studio, I felt unsure of myself. I was having intonation and phrasing issues due to a lack of breath control. My tone was inconsistent and I felt very vulnerable and exposed. All of this was making me feel insecure about my voice, my abilities and worse….my new songs. There is nothing worse than beginning to spiral and succumb to all those negative voices in your head. What, you thought those voices only raced around your head, haunting and sabotaging just little ol’ you?!
Vocal Coach Emergency Blues
I knew my regular vocal approach was not going to work, because it wasn’t working. I could feel it and I could hear it. What was I going to do? Where to begin? What if I couldn’t pull this together? What if it wasn’t there? Had I been kidding myself this whole time? Am I delusional, thinking I can do this? What am I doing?
I had been writing and singing for years, but this was new territory and I was in the beginning stages of recording an album! I wasn’t exactly thrilled about enlisting a Nashville vocal coach. That prospect sounded very expensive and I had real concerns about a “Nashville” approach to what I was creating…not to mention inviting someone into my fragile state at that time.
I knew I needed some help with my singing, but I didn’t know where to turn. My friend Casey Wood, who engineered and produced the album, suggested I contact Jaime. He had worked with her on several projects and I trusted Casey immensely, so…I called Jaime.
Vocal Coach Emergency Rescue. Whew!
Jamie immediately proved to be incredibly kind, insightful, supportive and helpful. Plus, Jaime is a HUGE Bob Dylan fan like me, so we hit it off right away. Jaime didn’t try to change my voice, she helped me develop and strengthen a new part of my voice. Being a songwriter herself, she had an understanding and empathy to the process and the place I was exploring artistically and vocally. Jaime quickly gained my trust because I was experiencing positive shifts in my singing and my overall mindset and approach.
I was writing this new material quickly, and we were recording the songs very quickly. She really helped me key into articulation, phrasing, tone and delivery that could only come from someone that understood the songs. Jaime was a quick study and paid attention to things at a deep level. She got it. This really allowed me to relax and feel confident in this new aspect of my writing, singing, recording and performing live.
Eventually, we all need help
This time and process with Jaime really helped me to record and perform those new songs, and it gave me a new confidence at a time when I felt pretty doubtful about what I was doing. I believed in the songs but they were requiring something new and different from me. Jaime helped me figure out how to embrace this and then deliver. Jaime also sang harmony vocals on that cd, and the next two as well… Better Here and Together, We’ll Get Through. I really don’t like to think about making that first cd without her assistance. She really set me on a new course. Jaime has always come through for me when I have written a song and I am trying to figure out how to approach it vocally, or when I just need a trustworthy ear and an insightful opinion.
If you are looking for a vocal coach, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, Jaime is it! You can read an article by Jaime called “I’m Too (insert criticism) to Sing Pro,” and you can contact Jaime here for more information regarding voice lessons.
Until next time, happy guitar-ing, and singing!