I would encourage anyone who wants to sing to find as many places as you can to go and sing. And don’t despise the school choir even if you think it is crusty. You know get some repertoire and give it to your music teacher and encourage them as well and say 'look Miss we want to do this piece, let’s try it out.'
Or form a group of your own at school, many people have done that. I was involved in a group in school and outside of school I formed a band, a vocal group with my sister and other girls. So join the local drama club, join the local church choir, don’t lock yourself from a particular style thinking well that is not me, it may not be you but I guarantee you will find some melodies, some lyrics or something that will inspire you there.
A lot of people concentrate on the riffs and those are great. But they are embellishments, they make you sound great on top of what you have already got. But they do not make you a good singer. They make you know a few riffs and if you study people’s riffs you will discover that most people only have about two or three anyway. They will do the same thing, they will do it backwards and forwards (sings). They will do it backwards and forwards, they will miss out a few notes, but usually it is the same sort of intervals they are doing and once you know the riff that a particular singer does like Mariah Carey (sings) You know certain signature embellishments ok so you can learn those but it is not just about learning that bit. It is almost like you have cut out everything that you have done and gone for just that little bit. And then you cut and paste and you stick it everywhere. And can you imagine a tapestry like that? Doesn’t look very good does it? Neither does it sound very good. It doesn’t sound good at all.
I am not saying don’t learn riffs. Learn riffs because if you are a singer you want to learn as much as you can. Start leaning some throat singing. Get some pygmy music from Central Africa and start learning some of that, start listening to the clicks that they make – that singing far out shines a lot of half the R&B singers you listen to anyway. And a lot of that comes from there anyway. So you will find, listen to Arabic scales and Arabic singers. If you are into riffs and stuff like that then get as diverse as possible. Listen to other ways in which you can riff. But then it gets a bit technical because you need to understand about scales. You need to understand why this riff fits over here but why doesn’t it fit in this bar, why doesn’t it fit in this phrase, but when I do it here, it sounds off it sounds out. Well you will not know unless you understand what is going on underneath the melody. So as an aspiring singer, start learning the piano. You don’t need to know how to play like Herbie Hancock or some super-super keyboard player. You know I play the piano but I wouldn’t say I am a pianist. You know I play piano to support my voice, and I play piano to support my song writing. It is really important that you understand how notes are put together and the sound they make when they are put together. As a singer you only have one line to sing and usually you are given the melody, you are usually a front person. That is why it is really important to understand what is going on behind you. Often singers don’t think about what is going on behind them and they will come up and we have the worst reputation, the worst reputation – we don’t come in on time, we don’t come to rehearsals you know! So it is really important to understand what is supporting your melody. Because that is the thing that is making you sound fantastic. That is what is holding you together.