Dianne Reeves: how to expand your vocal style

Dianne Reeves to me is not only one of the world’s most impressive singers, she is also a warm and compassionate coach.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience her coaching while studying at the Amsterdam Conservatoire. I sang my first ever self-written song during her master class. I’ll never forget her supportive appreciation. (Though I haven’t written since, but that has absolutely nothing to do with Dianne, or at least I like to think so.)

Dianne’s style taught me that coaching is about believing, about supporting, about encouraging, about love.

Whenever Dianne Reeves performs in The Netherlands, I love to be in her audience. Her full, rich contralto voice and her wide array of vocal colors – it blows me away.
She has never limited herself to jazz only. Although trumpeter Clark Terry took her under his wing, she is also very familiar with Latin American and World music. She toured with heroes like Harry Belafonte and Sergio Mendes, just so you know…

Some of her early recordings are simply phenomenal. My personal favorite is Sky Islands. Jazz fusion at its best! Percussion, funky groove, soaring vocals. The song lasts for 4:39 minutes and it is always too short. Always.

Now, do I hear you asking me what you could learn from a singer like Dianne Reeves? Basically, anything! But if I had to pick one thing, it would have to be her capacity to sing many styles convincingly.

And secretly, I have a preference for her fusion work. It’s so powerful, yet delicate too.
As a singer, it can be really interesting to try out different styles. To challenge yourself once in awhile. You’ll be able to maintain a fresh approach, you will find new ways to express yourself and you will never get bored.

How do you find different repertoire?

You could dive into the record collection of a complete stranger, browse through libraries, go to concerts or festivals you would never visit voluntary, or spend hours on youtube.

Spotify or Apple music playlists may also give you some inspiration, or how about the old school radio? Online radio? Okay.

I’m very curious where the search for fresh material may take you. Maybe to heavy metal? Who knows! Enjoy!

With love,

Ilse

My album tip for you:

Dianne Reeves: Dianne Reeves (Capitol Records, 1990)

2017-12-20T11:49:08+00:00

About the Author:

Ilse Huizinga is a jazz vocalist from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, thus, every day she rides her bike on wooden shoes through fields of tulips and windmills while eating Gouda cheese and drinking Heineken. Ilse loves vocal jazz, photography and travel. Ilse is listed in “The jazz singers, the ultimate guide” as one of the 500 best jazz singers of all times. Yet, she somehow manages to do her own grocery shopping! Besides performing and recording, Ilse coaches jazz singers around the world. If chasing her is a bit too much for you, and you'd still like access to all of her knowledge and experience, check out her Jazz Singers Academy.
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