Traditional thinking may lead you to believe that backing vocalists are backing vocalists because they aren’t as good as the lead vocalist. Certainly this was the impression given by the Oscar-winning documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom – where many of the most prolific and successful backing vocalists in history spoke of the unfair hierarchies that existed in many of the bands in which they found themselves.
The thing is – being a good backing vocalist requires completely different skills to being a good lead vocalist. Sure, some backing vocalists may not make it as a lead vocalist, but many lead vocalists wouldn’t make it as a backing vocalist either.
This is mainly because there is usually more than one person singing backing vocals. In fact there is often 3. So while the lead vocalist can be a little more loose with her phrasing, her melodies, backing vocalists have to be more rehearsed. Precise. Tight. Hit the right notes but the wrong phrasing and it sounds messy. Hit the right phrasing but the wrong notes and it sounds worse. You must be a team player, stick to the script. It may not be as attractive a position in the band to some people, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
In our teenage theme nights, all of the singers learn how to sing as part of backing groups and if they wish, on their own also. The 15th in the series and the first of the new school year takes place this Fri and Sat in The Model.
It’s wonderful to be able to say that we have the highest number of teenagers ever involved this time and also that the theme (as chosen by the teenagers) is…The ’70s.