It’s a hard lesson to learn. You do a hundred demo takes of your vocal at home, go into a big studio with a good engineer and hack it out for hours on an expensive microphone. He corrects your technique, does some good editing and vocal comp’ing and you take the tracks home and pop them into your song. What happened? Didn’t sound the same, did it? One reason why is a factor we vocalists often forget – emotion. The gear heads and technique freaks are about to throw tomatoes, but it’s true. I’ve done better vocal takes on a $200 mic than a $3000 mic simply because I had better expressed emotions. Do the best you can with the mic you have and make an attempt to mind all your vocal P’s and Q’s, but remember: it’s about sounding human. People look to songs for an emotion and as the singer you have to lead that feeling. This means digging into the take like you’re at a live show. The difference for me between my home demos and my studio vocals was that I sang the home demos by myself in my room – for hours! Not on the clock, not in front of someone, just feeling the song. Turns out I nailed it at home, the EQ’ing just needed to be cleaned up. In the amazing Clash documentary Westway To The World, Mick Jones talks about how on the second album, the engineer really messed up Joe Strummer by trying to make him stop slurring his words and sing proper. This is exactly what we mean! It’s the individual character of your voice and your idiosyncrasies and the way you express emotion that makes you unique! Don’t take those classes to lose your Southern accent – instead, crank it up in your vocals! People rarely remember perfect pitch and flawless technique, but they do remember singers like Hank Williams, Joe Strummer, Otis Redding and Nina Simone – because they had character and conveyed emotion!