Iconic Skills is a fantastic group class we hold every Wednesday from 7 to 8 pm. Each week our fantastic teacher Aijia breaks down the skills and careers of different vocal superstars and explains ways to incorporate these things into your own style.
This group class is free for all current Singers Edge students, so drop in any time and pick up some pointers from the best of the best!
In the meantime, here’s a quick recap of some the artists the course covered this summer:
Born in Tennessee in 1942 to a preacher father and gospel singer mother, Aretha was involved with music from the moment she was born. By the age of 14 she was singing and playing piano, beginning to perform and record early tracks in her father’s church.
Her debut gospel record Songs of Faith came out in 1956, and her secular career soon followed with her signing to Colombia Records in 1960.
Franklin soon became one of the biggest musical icons of the Civil Rights era. She took her platform seriously, refusing to perform for segregated audiences and famously singing at Martin Luther King Junior’s funeral.
Famous for her 4 octave range, her voice was never processed through pitch correction tools, expressing deep truth and pain in an unadorned and honest manner.
Refresh yourself with her most popular song:
Born in Baltimore in 1915, Billie Holiday had a difficult and painful childhood. She experienced the lack of a father, poverty and sexual assault. Though the trauma of her life eventually caused her passing at the young age of 44, she was able for a time to channel her demons into her moving and intense singing style.
Holiday got her start at 18, singing with jazz great Benny Goodman. Her phrasing and tone was unlike anyone else before her. She would often drag behind the beat, only to later speed ahead, making her style sound as natural as a conversation.
This innovation of hers influenced the course of popular music, with the king Frank Sinatra citing her as his biggest vocal influence.
Her haunting song Strange Fruit was embraced by Civil Rights activists, and is just as relevant today, having been sampled by many artists to express the same disregard of black bodies in America that has occurred since the country’s inception.
Known for his gravely deep vocals and beautifully poetic lyrics, Cohen actually didn’t begin his music career until he was 32, fully coming into his own at the ripe age of 37!
Prior to this Cohen was a struggling poet and author. He decided to switch to music in the hopes that it would help him financially, as it was very difficult at the time to make a career in pure poetry.
Cohen’s literary background brought images and forms to lyrics that had never been seen before, quickly catapulting him to the top of the singer-songwriter scene.
Though his career started later than most, his relevance in popular culture lasted until his passing at age 82.
This is the first song he ever played live; an instant classic.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar was born in Compton, California. His father was part of a gang, as were many of the people he knew at the time. These gritty truths informed his style of highly descriptive and reflective lyrics.
Lamar started releasing mixtapes at the age of 16, eventually breaking through to a larger audience with 2011’s Section 80.
His music takes inspiration from many genres, including funk, jazz and rock. Thanks to this highly creative process he has become one of the most critically acclaimed artists of the modern era, even winning a Pulitzer Prize in 2018.
Many of his songs are politically charged and have found special meaning within the Black Lives Matter movement.
Here is one of those songs:
The now world famous pop star was, believe it or not, a star when she was a child already! At the age of 10 she was chosen as a cast member of the Mickey Mouse Club, alongside her newfound peers Justin Timberlake and Brittany Spears.
Her fame continued to grow, truly exploding when she released her rendition of Reflection for the Disney movie Mulan.
Many records and hits have followed, with styles ranging from pop to musical theatre to blues and jazz.
Throughout her career she has used her unique vocal style to add elongated melismas, stretch out notes, and bite into her signature aggressive tones.
Check her out live to feel the full experience of singing!
Join us online on the Singer’s Edge Zoom Wednesday’s 7-8 to see what artists Iconic Skills has in store next!