What Music Should I Sing?

What kind of Music should I sing, or what kind of music would suit my voice best?

I’m often asked these questions by new students, and my answer is usually in the form of another question.  What kind of music do you love?

I can’t speak to classical music, but for CCM* singers there are few absolute restrictions, except for musical theater singers. If you are planning to audition and go into musical theater, you will have to be able to sing in a specific style and in a specific range (see auditioning for musical theater).

(*CCM = Contemporary Commercial Music, ie., jazz, pop, musical theater, rock, folk, country, etc.)

However, within most other CCM styles, there is considerable flexibility as to how you sing them.  It’s true that you may already have a certain sound that is associated with a certain genre – ie, strong and chesty for the blues, light and twangy for country; strong vibrato for gospel, straight tone for certain jazz styles – and you may in the long run decide to stay within that style if it is your strength.

However, as you develop your vocal technique you develop the ability to adjust  your vocal quality, and you may find that you can, for example, sing in a lighter mix, or develop or control your vibrato, and thus have the flexibility to sing in different styles. Besides, unless you are planning to be in a cover band that has to be faithful to the original version of the song, you can and should bring your own style and interpretation to your music.  There are many instances when an artist will cross genres to sing something in a different way than the original.  (See examples of different artists’ interpretations of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, below)

It’s true that sometimes this genre-hopping doesn’t work, but it’s a matter of individual taste, and as artist you need to start to trust your own vision.

There may be specific songs that are too technically difficult for you right now; maybe they require more range than you currently have or have difficult jumps, etc., but as you develop your vocal technique they may become more do-able.  I think it’s always a good idea to have a few of these songs in the works that are a bit of a stretch, as well as songs that you can more easily master and get performance-ready.

In the end, choosing songs that you love means that you will most likely have the  motivation to practice them and work out any technical difficulties, as well as the emotional connection that will help you to really connect with your lyrics and make the song powerfully your own.

Now, listen to the different versions of Somewhere Over the Rainbow on this Youtube Playlist and let us know which ones you like/hate! These are just a small fraction of the artists who have covered this song!


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