Voice Council interview with Lis

New Vocal Coach in Residence

Originally published in Voice Council Magazine.

Lis Lewis went to Brittany Spears’ house to give her voice lessons, went to the Grammy’s to warm up Rihanna, and worked with Miguel for his Saturday Night Live performance.

We invited this true coach-to-the-stars to be our first Vocal Coach in Residence of 2017.

Vocalists who inspire:
Aretha, Ray Charles, Beyoncé, Steven Tyler, Miguel (not because I’m biased).

Your first music teacher:
Mr. Gorbetz, my choir teacher in school. We had a big choir, a small choir, an a cappella choir and madrigals. He was busy.

A favorite nerves remedy:
Singing.

Pre-performance routine:
Meditating, stretching, vocalizing, makeup, clothes, equipment in the car then listen to great performances.

Shure SM57 microphone Lis uses the Shure SM57 for its treble range.

Shure SM57 microphone
Lis uses the Shure SM57 for its treble range.

The perfect live mic for you/your students:
The old work horse: Shure SM58 – except I use the 57 which has more treble (no pop screen).

Hero:
My Dad. A great loving wise man.

Villain:
Between you and me and your readers – Donald Trump.

Weirdest thing you’ve ever seen happen in a singing performance:
Chaka Khan dropped her mic, picked it up and started singing again and dropped it again! Yikes.

What drains your batteries?
Anger, arguing.

What charges them?
Harmonies.

Worst singing advice you’ve ever heard:
Just push. (A favorite of producers).

Your biggest performance blunder:
Trying to remember the words to the second verse while singing the first chorus. (It never works and I wasn’t very present in that chorus).

Where most singers mess up with vocal health:
Not warming up. Too lazy or excited or preoccupied.

Top recording tip:
Don’t get in your head too much. Be willing to show your real feelings even if some of the notes aren’t perfect. The technical can be fixed, the emotional can’t.

What’s different about a vocalist vocation today compared to 20 years ago?
20 years ago you relied on a distribution company (like a record label) to get your music out for anyone to hear. Now you can do it on your own.

Bad thing to say to a venue manager:
You’re going to love my music.

Good thing to say to a venue manager:
I’m going to fill this place.

Your life philosophy in 10 words:
Try to look for the best in people – it’s there but it’s easier to see the worst.

The perfect day:
Sleep late, great students, dinner with family (that’s it – it’s much simpler now than when I was a young striving artist!)

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