Confession: I’m a singer who’s always hated the way her voice sounds when recorded. There. I said it. One of my dirty little insecurities.
Despite growing up in choir, singing in musicals, crooning into a mic as a burlesque performer, and singing backup in a band, I’ve never been able to shake the fear of hearing myself played back. Live gigs—let’s do it! Recordings—where’s the whiskey?
When my good friend, Nate Rosswog, asked me to record with him, I doubt he heard the snippy little voices in my head saying, “You know, if you do this, you’re going to have to listen to yourself. Over. And over. And over.” Instead, he heard me say, “Absolutely! That sounds great!”
The night of the recording, I made sure I was armed with loads of caffeine-free hot tea. I drove over humming to warm up my vocal chords. I chatted in the kitchen with my friend and pro musician, Teneia, while Nate laid down the piano track I’d sing to.
And then it was time. I stepped into the closet (urban sound booth!), positioned myself in front of the mic, slipped the headphones over my ears, and hoped no one could hear my pounding heartbeat on the other sides of the cables.
I told Ben—friend, musician, and sound engineer—that I was nervous and he half-jokingly asked if I’d like some whiskey. I have to admit, it was a tempting offer, but I chose adrenaline and breathing instead.
This was the first time I’ve recorded and truly been able to hear myself during the process (live recordings are an entirely different beast and more of what I’m used to). Just speaking into the mic to Ben before he hit record made that all of kinds of apparent.
I gave myself a pep talk. I wasn’t allowed to ask Ben to stop the recording every 10 seconds. Deep breath.
But something magical happened when the music started. Familiar notes swam through the headphones and put me at ease. I had this. Instead of getting caught up in my insecurity, I just sang. I didn’t let myself second guess my talent. I connected with the lyrics of the song. I played with delivery and timing and runs.
I let go.
Two takes and two false starts later, my vocals were done. I kept the headphones on and listened to the playback and for the first time, I didn’t think it sounded half bad. In that moment, I started to appreciate the fact that my voice doesn’t sound like anyone else’s. It’s mine. And that’s something.
In the spirit of fearlessness, here’s the track (complete with some beautiful harmonies by Nate). This one is for all the Sia fans out there—and anyone who has ever needed a little vote of confidence.
Nate, Ben, and Teneia, thanks for having confidence in me.
Photo licensing – RECord button