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Studying Alessia Cara's Vocals WK1

Updated: Oct 18, 2021



With the vast pop artist on the Billboard charts, Alessia Cara's voice is one of the most distinctive voices of our time. I am going to study Alessia's voice over the next few weeks to figure out what makes her voice so unique.


I will be analysing some songs of hers and we can identify and learn why she sang the way she sang. Who were her musical influences and look into some of the decisions she made in making her the artist of today.


VOCAL ANALYSIS


If we just listened to her voice, there are a few things that stand out without her even trying. The raspiness in her tone, the raw grit, beautiful breathiness and unapologetic demeanour that keeps the listeners hanging on to her every word are just some of the things that pop up. Let's do a deep dive!


HER EARLIEST YOUTUBE COVER


Having humble beginnings from YouTube, we have the honour of seeing what she started with and how success looks like before all her awards or getting a record deal. Jessie J is an amazing vocalist in this generation and is definitely worth the vocal analysis. Covering your favourite artists is a practice that I do not take for granted in this day and age where technology is at our fingertips.


From the first 10 seconds of the video, you can tell that the quality of her voice has already been developed. This is what I observed in her voice.

  • Vowels Now, this was really interesting to look into because over the years coaching different people from all over the world, everyone's accent brings a certain element to how they sing. WIRED- Interview For Alessia, we look to her background and the way she talks in interviews to get a gauge of how she speaks. In this interview, she shares that she also speaks Italian. There is where you can hear the openness and wide vowels that she uses in the way she speaks and sings.

  • Placements of notes - Natural and effortless. Using a nasalised resonance is a good place to be as her vowels positioned her voice to travel up and down the range more effortlessly. The way she spoke gave her a natural twang even though her tone sounds a bit low when she speaks. In layman's terms, the way she spoke her vowels gave her a natural head start in giving her access to her full range without even trying. For someone who has issues with accessing your full range, you should pay attention to your vowels. Are they hindering you when you sing?

  • Younger Age- Placement sound bright and high Comparing with her new releases she does sound brighter as if her larynx is higher. But as we grow older our body changes and we tend to drop a few notes to what is comfortable, which is totally normal.

  • Timing- Eagerness to perform When first starting out, it is understandable for new artists to want to prove themselves. Such refreshing energy that she possessed but you can see that the rhythm could have been a little more chill and she could have taken her time to feel the groove that this song is recognised for. Take the time to listen to Jessie J - Price Tag live performance. Look at how she commands the song instead of letting the timing drive her. This, considering that Jessie J wrote that song herself and have way more years of experience in selling one's story we can excuse Alessia for just having a run at a good old pop song.

  • Good Basic Musicality The natural flow of the song was smooth and simple, she wasn't trying too hard but she could get all the basics down into a very decent cover without much effort.


WHAT DID I LEARN?


Extremely happy that she still leaves her videos up there for people to see how hard she has worked for what she has today. For the younger ones aspiring to be a singer or in the performing arts, to know that everyone starts from humble beginnings is very comforting. This should encourage anyone to know that improving your voice is possible. It is not an overnight change or 5 sessions with a coach, it takes years to cultivate your thought process and honing your vocal coordination by knowing the current limitations of your voice and instead of avoiding your weakness begin to accept and adapt to how you can make that into a strength vocally.


Upon reflection, I would say it took me 3 years of sticking to the same 7 vocal warm-ups to understand and really study how those exercises could help me, experience the difference of how they impacted my voice for the times I did them and for the times I skipped them. The price was heavy as it was in front of a live audience but it was a small price to pay for a big lesson.


WHAT DID I UNLEARN?

I have had to unlearn the belief that music artists are just born how they sound at the peak of their success. The effort is necessary, putting time in and making sure you study various artists can get you very far.


From just the people she covered alone, we know she was influenced by:

2011

  • Jessie J

2012

  • Adele

  • Elle Varner

  • Amy Winehouse (One of her favourites)

  • Maroon 5

  • Miguel

  • Musiq Soulchild

  • Selah Sue

  • Karina Pasian

  • Lianne La Havas

  • Ginette Claudette

  • Lana Del Rey

  • Bridget Mendler

2013

  • Frank Ocean

  • Justin Timberlake

  • Christina Aguilera

  • The Neighbourhood (This is the video where she got attention)

  • Allen Stone

  • Amy Winehouse

  • Lorde

And the list goes on! Analysing this list, she chose various RnB/ soul artists she probably would like to sound like with either voice, attitude or music production.


WHAT ABOUT YOU?

  1. What did you find interesting?

  2. What are some things I missed out that you found relevant?

  3. What are some beliefs you had to unlearn?

  4. Who are some of the artists that made it on your study list?

I would love to spark a discussion and talk to you so leave your comments below and let's chat.


WHAT'S NEXT?

In the next post for Tuesdays, I will be going on to analysing HER EARLIEST RECORD WHICH WAS RELEASED IN 2015, 'HERE'.





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