When I first heard Cassandra Wilson sing, it sure broke my patterns of expectation. All of a sudden I found myself in a cascade of sounds so dramatic, dark and deep, I nearly drowned.
Miss Wilson puts a spell on you and draws you into her magical, mystical world with her hypnotizing voice and her unmistakable timbre.
To me, a singer used to the magnificent styles of Ella, Sarah, and Billie, discovering Cassandra Wilson with her blues, country and folk influences, was a very refreshing dive into the unknown.
Now and then it’s great when people expand the boundaries of your imagination. You don’t necessarily have to copy them, but it’s just like traveling… There’s this world of endless and enriching possibilities and it makes you evaluate the choices you have made for yourself even more.
Cassandra Wilson is a Mississippi native, a beautiful singer and songwriter who plays the guitar and piano and who has won two Grammy Awards. With alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, she was one of the founding members of the New York avant-garde group M-Base, developing material that transcends styles like 70’s funk, jazz & pop.
When she signed with Blue Note she found a worldwide audience for her original style. I particularly like the extraterrestrial sound of steel guitars and percussion on her prize-winning album Blue Light Til Dawn.
Now, what can YOU learn from an interesting singer such as Cassandra Wilson?
Of course, finding your signature style takes time (maybe even a lifetime), but how about focussing on singing in the lower range of your voice a bit more often? To get that earthy base?
How to get there? There’s this really simple recipe. Hurray.
Just think of Santa.
Ho, Ho, Ho.
Find your inner Santa Claus and experience vibrations throughout your entire body.
Breath in, feel connected to your belly, make sure your throat is open, relax your jaws and start in your lower register, exclaiming Santa’s Ho Ho Ho.
Sustain Ho and feel the vibrations in your chest. Isn’t it fun? You could also see yourself as an enormous sounding whale, or whatever works for you.
Now sing a few of your songlines with this sound in mind. Never push or constrict. Let your resonance do the trick. Enjoy!
Looking forward to hearing you sing!
My album tip for you:
New Moon Daughter (1996, Blue Note Records)
Cassandra Wilson on Wikipedia: