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Country Vocals Lessons: The Trio Album and The Highwaymen

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Country Vocals

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We're gonna spend a little time
in this lesson and the next lesson or
two talking specifically
about country music.
Now, as I said, I've sung, performed,
written a lot of different
styles of music.
But I love country music and
this course, the country vocal chords,
is going to focus on specifically
this unique American genre.
No other place on the planet has music
quite like American country music.
It's very much a part of
the fabric of America,
of what makes America a unique culture.
And it's very much a part
of American history.
So, we're gonna dig a little
deeper into the quality,
the particular personality of country
music for the next few lessons here.
And because of that you have
a special listening assignment.
So for this lesson, you have
an assignment of listening to a couple
of acts that had the bonus of having
several iconic artists within these acts.
And I am talking about the trio,
the famous trio of Dolly Parton,
Linda Ronstadt, and EmmyLou Harris,
they made a couple of iconic and
deeply impactful albums in
the late 80's early 90's
that were very very influential in
country music and beyond country music.
And of course those three female
artists have been superstars,
internationally impactful as artists for
Dolly Parton is one of the best
country songwriters there is.
She's written some incredible classics
like And I Will Always Love You,
and Jolene, and Coat of Many Colors, and
she's an incredibly powerful and
unique vocalists.
That is worth with studying.
She has such a perfect
control over her instrument,
she's got beautiful tone and
a very unique vibrato, and
ability to go from a very breathy quiet,
intimate sound to complete belting power.
So she is one of the trio,
Linda Ronstadt, again, iconic voice,
iconic artist,
able to cross a lot of musical boundaries,
she's a rock singer,
she's a folk singer, she's
a Spanish folk singer in
her dad's native tongue.
She has sung The American Songbook
with Nelson Riddle,
all completely, convincingly,
and authentically.
A very gifted vocalist with
a completely different tone and
approach than Dolly Parton.
And then the third person in
the trio is Emmylou Harris.
One of our most unique voices and
vocal personas.
Emmylou is Nashville based.
I've had the privilege of getting
to hear her live, and watch her,
and even sing with her a few times.
She's such a deep artist with
an incredibly unique tone and vibrato.
And one of the most plaintive, haunting
sounds of any singer that I've ever heard.
The three of those power
trio vocals combined
is pretty close to singer Nirvana.
Great classic songs, wonderful songs, and
then the way their voices complement one
another when they sing harmony together.
So you get the thrill of these
individual voices as solo artists.
All very distinct, but
then you get this incredible experience
of the combination of those voices.
And you'll learn a lot about
harmony singing, a lot about blend,
and nuance, and phrasing.
Just so much great information in their
two albums, the first trio album, and
the second trio album by Dolly,
and Linda, and Emmylou.
The other group that I am assigning
you to listen to, is the male,
kind of the male equivalent,
they're like the Mount Rushmore of country
music, and that's The Highwaymen.
That's a group that formed
actually in the mid 80s and
was composed of Kris Kristofferson, Johnny
Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson.
Yeah, I know incredible.
The first album that they made, the
Highwayman, I believe came out in 1985.
And then they subsequently
made several recordings.
All aging together beautifully and
powerfully, and again as with
the trio album you get the thrill of each
of these very distinct individual voices,
and then the joy of hearing them
harmonize and blend with one another.
So these two acts,
two bands I guess we'll call them,
the trio and the highwaymen,
I want you to go track them down.
Go to a used record store or download them
from iTunes, however you get your music.
And find them and
spend some time listening to them,
you wanna listen for the country,
what makes them specifically country?
What is it about the song writing,
what is it about the subject matter,
the vocabulary,
the vernacular that they sing in?
And I also want you to listen for
incredible harmony and blend.
These are all things we're
going to cover in level two and
this is your listening assignment
to prep your ears and your mind and
your heart for it, some really
great work about country singing.
So I'll see you in the next lesson.