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Quick Q+A with vocal coach to the stars Joshua Alamu

EXPERT: Joshua Alamu

RECENTLY, Joshua Alamu, vocal tutor to the stars came down to ACM London to share his top tips for getting ahead in the music industry. We caught up with him afterwards for an interview...

How did you get your start in the industry?

I had some incredible mentors, namely David and Carrie Grant. They nurtured me from a very early age. They took me under their wing as a singer and I did so many gigs with them. Then they formed a band that I was part of for a good number of years and here is where my love for music, harmony, vocal musicianship, backing vocals, production, vocal development, performance, etc., really started to grow.

What’s one of the most memorable experiences you've had training an artist in the industry?

I’ve had many! I work with a good range of signed singers (JP Cooper, Raye, Little Mix, Fleur East, Louisa Johnson) and there’s always a moment where they realise that they can achieve more than they’ve ever thought possible. This is always an emotional moment, and I live for these moments.

I think that these breakthroughs happen, not only because of the immense study and learning that goes into being a professional voice coach, but also because of what I’ve learned and grown my own voice into – you can't really take someone to a place that you’ve not been to yourself (in the context of skill) and this is one of the things that drives me to be all I can be for the services of others.

What are some of the essential skills you look for when working with an artist?

If I’m working with an established artist, I am looking for a sense of what motivates them and their hunger to grow as an artist. I look for a good sense of their musicality or what I like to call 'vocal musicianship'. I also look to assess how much technical skill they have and how well they can combine both technique and unique style in their singing expression.

What are some top tips you can give on vocal care?

My main tips are: sleep well, drink water, use a straw to balance your voice (yes, a straw can help to optimise the efficiency of your voice when you phonate into it), train your voice well, know how your voice works mechanically, and see a ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor (preferably one that specialises in singers)

Tell us a bit more about your book series, Mad About Vocal Style?

Mad About Vocal Style is a series that tackles the ins and outs of what it means to express yourself uniquely as a singer. It's a book that contains text, videos and MP3s and is the first singing book of its kind. Through video demonstrations, it focuses on the unique options that a voice can use to relay emotions, and the books highlight a roster of different vocal nuances, colours and vocal musicianship ideas, and teaches singers how to use them intelligently. It's really designed for singers who are learning and developing their singing craft, and you can find it on iTunes.

I also read that you run the Ultimate Artists development program. What is the general process you have for developing artists?

Yes, Ultimate artists (UA) is a ten-day mentorship programme my team and I run in the summer. It uses the platforms of singing training, songwriting development, music production and band performance and more to, not only build the skills of the different artists that come in, but also to help address the inner person and understand how individuals handle things like rejection, criticism, disappointment, low self-esteem and depression as artists.

We regularly experience artists coming in feeling lost, broken or confused and they leave UA stronger, transformed, enlightened and empowered as people who are also artists. And all this is done through this amazing catalyst called music. Our strapline is ‘It's more than music’ and for me this says it all.

What advice would you give to upcoming BME musicians who are trying to grow as artists?

The main thing is this: take the time to really discover who you are, who you are musically, what you want to say and how you want to say it. Then work on becoming the most outstanding and skilled communicator of your music and your message. Make sure your music and the way you uniquely express it is really great. Then the industry will find you; you won't need to go and find it.

Want to learn from the best of the music industry? Book on to an ACM open day on their website now.

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