The Ins and Outs of Life as a Touring singer
They say you’re not a professional until someone pays you to do what you do. I guess I went pro at age 18. I used to grab my mother’s hairbrush and pretend I was Whitney Houston when I was six years old. I had a nice-sounding voice and a good ear, but I wasn’t born doing riffs and runs and belting out notes like Beyoncé or Mariah Carey. However, I sure wanted to be rich and famous, and if you asked me, that’s what I was going to be when I grew up. Why didn’t anyone warn me that it wouldn’t be so easy? Or maybe they did and I refused to listen.
For most (myself included), the road to becoming a professional is paved with challenge and struggle. But the journey makes you stronger and prepares you for where you’re going. To begin, you need to have some talent, then you must hone it, and finally, you’ve got to work it. I’d like to think I’ve arrived.
My journey began in Toronto, Canada as an indie recording artist. I released a few singles, and performed in local clubs around the city. I thought I was living the dream but was barely paying the few bills I had. Frustrated and in search of more opportunities, I moved to NYC. Like Frank says “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” right? Well it happened! Having been a trained dancer, I booked world tours and music videos with Mariah Carey, Missy Elliot, P Diddy and many other incredible A-List stars! I was finally making a living, just not as a singer. And then one day while dancing on tour, I was singing and the artist overheard me and complimented me on my voice! Only a short while later she offered me a position to sing BV’s for her! So, I put my dance shoes in the closet, and embarked on what has been an amazing 12-year career of “Singing for my Supper”.
I have been blessed to work with an incredible list of artists such as Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Drake, Alicia Keys, Demi Lovato, and currently I’m on tour with International Pop Star Robbie Williams. How awesome to do what I love and finally get paid for it! And now, with this monthly column, I want to share those experiences with you. Each month, the “Singing for my Supper” column will take you on the job, where you’ll meet a new artist who’ll give you an up-close and personal experience, exploring different topics that will equip you and encourage you as you follow me from gig to gig, through stories, VLOG’s and one-on-one interviews. And don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your questions, comments, and ideas! Maybe you can be the next featured artist!
This month, I’m bringing you with me on the “Swings Both Ways” tour where I’ll talk about how to survive the demands of a hectic touring and still be your best every night on stage! I’ll also be talking to my girl and fellow Robbie Williams BV Sara-Jane Skeete to bring us her insight on how she manages being on the road.
#TOURLIFE 5 top tips
Just how does one survive the hectic demands of a 5-show per week tour? 12-14 hour bus rides, jet-lag, different climates, sleeping in foreign beds and eating foreign food? Oh the glamorous life!
Remember, your voice is top priority, so here are a few of my must-do’s while you’re on tour Singing for your Supper!
1) Rest- Body: Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. When the body and mind are rested, the voice can function at its best! Voice: Vocal rest isn’t just for when you’re voice is sore or sick and tired. I’m a big advocate of just shuttin’ up! Our voice is our instrument, so on top of speaking all day and using at night on the gig, we must rest it as much as possible.
2) Exercise: Keeping physically fit for your gig is key! You may be called upon to do some choreography for your show, and being out of breath just won’t cut it for a live performance! And it helps keep you from being worn out and exhausted after your show. Also, the demands of long daily travel can take a toll on your body.
- Water- You can never have enough
- Dairy- I don’t go near it
- Throat Coat tea/herbal tea- Yogi Throat Comfort or Original Medicinals Throat Coat tea are filled with lots of great natural remedies for tired puffy cords and sore throats
- Voice and Throat soothers- Grether’s pastilles, gummy bears and Werther’s originals (your dentist may not be happy though).
- Throat spray- I like to find flavoured herbals sprays without numbing agents.
- Vitamins- Stay healthy and keep your energy up with Vitamins C, B12, and Echinacea!
4) Vocal fitness and health: Keeping your voice healthy and strong means you keep your job. For my vocal fitness routine, I opt for warming up before my show. Also, vocal rest after the show and on days off is key!
5) Be prepared: It’s crucial that you are prepared for your gig in a way that is specific to your needs. Bring the little extras you need from home to keep you comfortable, to keep your mind focused and relaxed so that you can perform at your best every night. That might mean grabbing your allergy meds out of the cabinet, or smoothie shaker bottle, or even your sleep shades and ear plugs to get adequate “tour bus” sleep.
To watch Denosh’s video where she talks to Sara-Jane Skeete (Robbie Williams, MIKA, Cliff Richards) about life and work as a backing vocalist download issue 2 of iSing. See below for downloading options..