American Idol: Classroom for Up-and-Coming Singers

January 19, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
American Idol is more than just a wildly successful TV talent show. It’s like a tuition-free classroom for up-and-coming stars. In fact, vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams says American Idol should be required viewing for anyone wanting to become a professional singer.

“American Idol is the Super Bowl for the kids who didn’t play sports in high school because they were busy practicing or playing in the marching band,” says Renee Grant-Williams, voice coach to some of the recording industry’s biggest stars. “Young singers can get a sense of what real-world professionals are looking for and what the American public responds to. Singers can learn from the critiques what works and what doesn’t, and then apply that to their own performance.”

“Aspiring singers can learn valuable lessons from this phenomenal hit show. The advice given on voice control, body-support, appearance, branding, and other vital aspects of performance is about as good as you can get anywhere – and it’s free to boot,” Grant-Williams says.

Grant-Williams claims one of the biggest mistakes contestants make is over-singing. “We seem to be caught up in an epidemic of loud. Some contestants have difficulty maintaining intensity without crossing that line where they lose their musicality and sound like they’re about to damage their voices.”

Grant-Williams gives the American Idol panel of commentators high marks for generally right-on advice. She agrees most often with Simon Cowell, even though he is the harshest. “If you think Simon is tough, try convincing a roomful of label executives that they should gamble a million dollars on your career,” says Grant-Williams.

However, Grant-Williams says occasionally the panelists make conflicting requests about issues like song selection, and then blame poor performance on the singer’s song choice.

“Song choice is important and it’s wonderful when the perfect song and the perfect singer come together. But the qualities we hear in a great singer would come through if they were singing, Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” says Grant-Williams. “A singer should think twice about stepping outside of their safety zone. Sometimes it’s best to do what they do best.”

Finally, Grant-Williams encourages aspiring singers to persevere. “Randy Travis was turned down by Nashville’s You Can Be a Star three times before he went on to become a country music icon and one of today’s most endearing stars.”

Grant-Williams offers further advice through her book, “Voice Power” and three-part DVD, “Vocal Master Class” as well as articles at For more information or to schedule an interview, call 615/259-4900.

Grant-Williams coaches aspiring performers as well as celebrities including Faith Hill, the Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw, Christina Aguilera, Linda Ronstadt, Randy Travis, and Huey Lewis. She is a former instructor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as well as the former director of the Division of Vocal Music at the University of California, Berkeley. Grant-Williams has been quoted by Cosmopolitan, TV Guide, the Associated Press, UPI, Southern Living, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She has appeared on many broadcast outlets including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Bravo, USA, MTV, GAC, BBC, PBS, and NPR.