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Country Vocals Lessons: The Right Cover

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This lesson is called
Finding the Right Cover.
Because, I think this is a really,
very powerful, and
very useful tool for singers to use
no matter what level they're at.
It's a great thing for new singers,
people who are just beginning
to explore their voice and
put together a repertoire of songs that
they know to find the right cover songs.
But it's equally great for
established artist, even artist
who already have a number of hits.
I mean, we've all seen the great
examples of very successful multi
platinum music acts and artists,
who have come out with a cover song and
had a huge hit on a cover song
even as established artists.
One of my favorites of the last several
years was Rascal Flatt's cover of Life is
a Highway for the Cars movie.
I always loved the original version,
but then Rascal Flatts breathed new and
different life into it with their
really cool vocal arrangements, and
that great energy of that production.
Another one of my favorite covers from
the last few years is by an artist
named Israel Kamakawiwoʻole.
And his ukulele cover of
Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
Now this is a song that is almost
sacred to me from The Wizard of Oz,
Judy Garland's original version
of it is one of my holy songs.
But when I heard Israel's version of
Somewhere Over the Rainbow on the ukulele,
it was like a whole new song, a whole new
experience of a song that I already loved.
So even really successful
artists use cover songs for
a lot of different reasons.
Right off the bat, there are a number
of just plain old pragmatic reasons to
cover a hit song, a known song that
people are already familiar with.
One is, fan appropriation.
You've got an opportunity
if you deliver a really
good interesting cover of
a song to reach into the fan
base of whoever originally
had the hit on that song.
So, if you think that the people
who liked the original version of
Don't Stop Believin' might like your
cover, you know they liked that song,
so it's an opportunity for
you to possibly reach those fans.
People go onto iTunes and Spotify,
a lot of times they'll search for
the title of a hit song that they know.
And if your version is one of
the versions that pops up,
you might turn somebody completely new
onto you and your artistry, your voice
because you choose the right cover and
tapped into someone else's fan base.
Another good pragmatic reason to do a good
cover song is, building your brand.
It can be a great tool if you are thinking
in terms of building a whole brand empire,
kind of approach to identifying
yourself and your music.
How does a particular
cover song fit it in?
Are you building a career and
a persona as a singer,
an artist who does positive message songs?
Like you're creating a persona of
motivation and proactive encouragement.
You might think about covering a song
like Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and
the Waves.
Find your way to take that song on,
make it your own and
use it as a way to build your persona and
your brand.
Finally, there's just a lot of equity
that's already been built in a hit song.
You get to benefit from the fact that
another record label, another artist have
invested a lot of money and time and
attention in making that song a hit,
making it familiar to millions
of people across the globe.
And by covering that song, you're getting
to tap into a little bit of the equity
of someone else's investment to make
that song popular and make it familiar.
So there are a lot of good
reasons to find the right cover,
and incorporate it into your repertoire.
The things you wanna start with as
you start to narrow down the process
of incorporating it into your work,
as you work the song up as you learn it.
Once you've made your choice,
you wanna make sure that you
are very familiar with that melody.
And that you put it in the right key.
What is the range of that melody?
Where does it sit in your voice?
Where can you find again your strength?
Where is your sweet spot?
Where can you deliver that money note?
And finding the right key to really
exploit it, really take advantage and be
able to show off your unique strength the
things that make you unique as a singer.
What can you do to set that
song in the right key,
in the right place in your voice, so
you can get the most out of your version?
And then, you wanna think about style.
You've got a really great hit, familiar
song that people are gonna recognize.
They also probably remember
the original version, so
they're gonna have another artists
take and kinda of their ownership.
Another artist has already
claimed that song, so
you're going to have to develop
a unique approach that fits your style,
that fits your vocal style, and
the style of music that you're working in.
So, you can get really
creative in that process.
It's a chance to really kind of play and
experiment with deconstructing
a familiar song, putting it back
together in a way that is uniquely you.
I'm gonna share a little bit of one of
the cover songs that I've worked up in
the last few years.
I have been a Bobby McFerrin fan forever.
I think he's just one of the most genius
vocalist who has ever graced the planet.
I highly recommend you looking up
his very first album which was
a live recording of a concert
that I think he did on Germany.
And it was just him by himself on
the stage, and it's one of the most
spectacular musical
experiences I've ever heard.
That album is called The Voice, and
it's Bobby McFerrin alone on stage and
it's a magical work.
One of my favorite songs of Bobby's,
I worked up on my own and
it's a pretty recognizable song.
I'm gonna play a little bit of it and
let you figure out which one it is.
my take
on Don't
I took a song that I loved,
that was made infinitely
popular and famous as a major key
But I dug into it, messed around with it,
played with it, and I thought,
I wonder what it would
feel like in a minor key,
and it radically changed the vibe and
the emotion of the song.
It became this very ironic kind
of woe is me, things are really,
really bad and miserable and life is
really dark, but don't worry, be happy.
And I love how much fun it is to
start that song and start singing it,
and playing it.
And you can see the recognition
on people's faces is like,
I think I know this song.
Do I know this song?
It sounds kinda, and
the light bulb goes off.
It's really fun.