I don’t know about you, but R&B is hands-down my favorite genre!

I love it for so many reasons. One reason is because of how much it has evolved since its inception. It has its history in gospel, blues, funk, jazz, rock, soul, and now hip-hop! Another reason I love it is because R&B challenges vocalists to grow.

Whether you want to sing acrobatic vocal runs like Brandy, belt iconic notes like Whitney Houston, be an improvisational genius like Tank, or make songs about getting played sound smooth and sexy like Summer Walker, these 5 things will make you a better R&B singer.

1. Listen to the greats.

Not only the legends of today but listen to traditional R&B artists. Even if your goal is to sing like Khalid or Summer Walker, listening to traditional R&B artists like Brandy, Tank, Monica, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and even original soul masters such as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin will help you understand the key elements of rhythm and blues.

All artists need to pay homage and respect to those who have done it before them. It will make you a more aware and creative musician. Having a wide variety of influences helps you be more versatile and have more longevity in your career instead of becoming another carbon copy of an artist that will disappear after one hit. Originality is key!

2. Learn the fundamentals of singing.

You’re going to need a strong vocal technique — because the key elements of R&B are the more challenging aspects of singing such as vocal runs, belting, large leaps between notes, and now rhythm is even more prevalent.

You must master these 3 fundamentals to improve your technique.

  • Breath control. Proper breath control ensures that you can hold notes longer and belt without straining. Proper breathing should take place from your diaphragm with relaxed shoulders and chest.
  • Vocal placement. Vocal placement serves many functions. Changing the shape of your mouth by singing vocal exercises with varying vowel shapes (such as ah, oo, ee, eye, oh, etc.) not only helps you improve your vocal range and master your vocal registers…but also helps you control the TONE of your voice.
  • Pitch accuracy. Improving your pitch accuracy will allow you to sing vocal runs with ease as well as have a more natural-sounding pitch correction in your studio sessions — which is really what sets modern R&B apart from Rap-Singing in 2020.

I teach all of these in-depth in virtual one-on-one voice lessons. Get a free consult with me visit calendly.com/indieartistschool

3. Learn these 4 elements that make R&B, R&B.

-Connect with your emotions and convey them through your music.
-Learn vocal runs and when to use them.
-Have a strong sense of rhythm — especially in 2020. Most contemporary R&B follows cadences that are prevalent in hip-hop. It helps to listen to hip hop as well to be a better R&B singer in 2020.
-Have a strong mixed belt — especially in traditional R&B.

4. Sing R&B covers of an artist that inspires you.

Start by imitating them. As you improve your skills you can start ad-libbing — which is essentially adding your flavor.

You can ad-lib by switching a few lyrics (similar to a hip-hop freestyle) or you can do this by adding your vocal runs or belts to embellish the song. TACT is necessary. Make sure you sing the song pretty straight forward on the first verse and hook. Then include runs on the second verse/bridge/and endings of songs.

If you combine the adlib elements of freestyle in lyrics, rhythm, and vocal runs/belts tactfully — you will be well on your way to having your sound and making R&B music of your own!

5. When you’re writing an R&B song… make sure your song tells an emotional story.

Storytelling and emotions are an important part of R&B.

YES — even in 2020. I know, I know…I hear it all the time from traditional R&B lovers. “Nobody sings about love anymore — the autotune is taking all the emotion out of the songs” But if you listened to the music — artists are still singing about their own story. It may not be THE SAME STORY as it used to be and the emotions may not be conveyed in the way it was in the ’90s, but as long as the artists and their fans connect to it…who are we to judge?

If you want to start writing r&b music, it helps to get inspired by singing along with r&b instrumentals. If you’re going for a more modern feel, make sure the instrumental has elements of hip hop.

Make sure your lyrics have some interesting and complex rhyme schemes if you read it and feel like it could’ve been bars spit straight from a rapper (including double entendres, etc) then you’re well on your way.

If you’re going for a more traditional r&b song, follow the same rules above, but lean more on creating space for belts and vocal runs in your melodies. Ballads are perfect for this.

So remember to sing R&B follow these 5 steps:

1. Listen to the greats before you
2. Learn the fundamentals of singing
3. Learn the 4 elements of R&B
4. Sing R&B covers
5. When writing R&B make sure your song tells an emotional story.

Well you guys, until next time…have a wonderful day!

Kristal Cherelle-Indie Artist School

Want to learn more? Visit indie-artist.teachable.com

Listen to the podcast at anchor.fm/thesingersarsenal/support