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  • Writer's pictureVal Bastien

Black History & African Heritage Month

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

February is Black History & African Heritage Month! This post is written in honour of People of Colour. They are our loved ones, friends and colleagues. We thank you for all that you contribute to our communities around the World. We appreciate the tremendous impact you have made and continue to make in our lives.

Who is your favourite Black singer? How does Black music inspire you to develop your vocal skills?

Since part of Black culture is deeply rooted in music, it's not surprising that their contribution in that respect is so remarkable. Let's see how we can learn from different genres and their genius:


The calypso influence that Reggae music draws upon rhythmically puts me in an immediate state of relaxation and longing for a place in the sun. Figuratively and literally! It reminds me that when we sing, we take on the role of a leader and must weigh our words carefully as a person of influence. Songs carry powerful messages. It's your job as a singer to choose songs that matter and tell stories accordingly. Whether the purpose is of a social nature or to heal a broken heart, your voice is a force to be reckoned with. Now, if reggae is a breath of musical sunshine, the idea of traveling to the magnificent exotic Island of Jamaica certainly cheers me up and helps me relax. The perfect antidote to free the voice and just what the doctor called for during these long winter months! I need a vacation, haha!


Similarly, rap artists use music to tell a story. Rappers do it with an impressive command over enunciation and rhythm, poetry and flow. Speaking clearly and with intent makes a difference in how your message will be received. This can only come from a place of confidence or it will fail to come through. Singing rap is also a good exercise in memorizing lyrics because they usually have lots! Yes. Rap songs are wordy! So you want to make your brain sharper? Learn some rap!


Heartache. Oppression. Hope. In Blues, we learn to cope with the hardships of life. The confinement of the typical 12-bar chord progression and AAB pattern triggers an undeniable need for creative singing and freedom to break away from the chains of expectations and status quo. Do you want to do what you love in life? Is singing a passion? The call-and-response element tells us that if you keep singing, you will be heard. It is the only way to move in the direction of your dreams. You must be resourceful and persevere when following your bliss. We understand that the energy of singing is an open door towards a better future.


Jazz is an expression of freedom. The music I listen to the most at home is instrumental jazz music. I love the element of spontaneity in not knowing what's coming next. Music that doesn't remind me of anything is excellent for my soul. It helps me make space and fill the void with new experiences. Vocal jazz is generally a little more structured but still offers great room for improvisation. Singers who can scat have advance knowledge of music theory and scales in particular. The contrast between music theory and playful improvisation reminds us that life balance is essential. Work hard but also have fun! Embrace your inner child. Let's play!


Know that you are loved and have your place in the world. When the heart is at peace, everything else falls in sync, in perfect harmony with needs and aspirations. Gospel is such a beautiful expression of gratitude and appreciation. I encourage you to connect spiritually with your life force. Find joy and ecstasy to guide your choices. Singing is not only about musicianship. It's also about discovering your true self and sharing that precious talent for a greater good. Gospel presents us with a sense of community and belonging. We are stronger together. Surround yourself with those who believe in you and work toward a common goal.


Innovation. Agility. Passion. Pride. I think these four words describe R & B and Soul well. Soul singers combined influences from several African-American styles to create a unique sound that branched out into what we now know as R & B. When exploring and developing your vocal personality, always stay true to who you are and what feels right. We can learn a lot by modelling how successful singers sing. Take risks to push your personal boundaries of sound and creativity. Learn songs that reach into your upper register. Try to sing those super fast runs on tempo. Give improvisation a try. Sing at the top of your lungs and belt those powerhouse songs. It's fun. Actually, it's addictive! Then, take your skills one step further by simply being YOU. And sing your HEART out!

I specialize in freeing the voice from tension to help singers sing higher, louder and effortlessly. The beauty of this approach is that it applies to any singing genres. If you would like to learn EASY techniques to sing better fast, join me in my FREE masterclass:


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