Cross-Genre Singing & Coffee House Trio

Cross-genre singing is fairly common theses days – remember when Lady Gaga released a Jazz Album with Tony Bennett and then proceeded to rock the Oscars with a tribute to Julie Andrews? Wow. Did you know that Renée Fleming, opera diva extraordinaire, released a Jazz Album called Haunted Heart? I have always loved various genres of music – everything from opera, to pop, to musical theatre, jazz and even Anglican/Episcopalian church music (who doesn’t love Howells?!). Each genre speaks to me in a different way and brings me back to a different time in my life.

As branding goes, I define myself as a singer and an artist. Period. I do my best to sing songs of multiple varieties in an authentic way that will help people connect to the music and their own experiences, whether that be through a pop song they can relate to, or an Italian aria that evokes sorrow even when the words may not be understood. While the focus of most of my study continues to be on classical music (and predominantly Italian opera), I certainly still enjoy singing other types of music and appreciate artists that can transform themselves to sing types of music that are not in their typical ‘ballywag of tricks’. Like Lady Gaga, whoa… mad respect. In my humble opinion, it takes a solid understanding of vocal technique and your own instrument to be able to do that. Fortunately, I am incredibly grateful to have a teacher who embraces many genres of music and has taught me how to technically approach singing in those various domains –  thank you, Shouvik!!

For the longest time, I didn’t really embrace the fact that I could do many things with my voice, but lately I am having a TON o’ FUN singing various genres and am starting to be ok with it all! Considering that I’ve sung in choirs for 30+ years (musical theatre, secular, classical, modern music+), performed as a soloist with a Jazz band, sung numerous pop songs at weddings, been hired as a soloist for church gigs, sung opera arias in Italy, sung a gospel song with backup choir recently in Ottawa, and coached voice in a rock musical, it is time to be comfortable owning that I can sing cross-genre. I am certainly still honing my skills with each style, but I try to bring my unique stamp to the genres I sing and make it my own. I also like that I’m not pigeon-holed into one particular style of music, as I think versatility is very important skill to have in the music business.

All that being said, I wanted to share a bit about a project I’ve been working on for the past few months with two talented friends of mine, guitarist Brad Pitt and vocalist Brian Applestein. We’ve been working together on a set of pop/folk/jazz/acoustic music and I affectionately refer to us as the ‘BMB Coffee House Trio’. From Blowin’ in the Wind to Hallelujah, to Tangled up in Blue (Indigo Girls Cover), we’ve been practicing lots of fun songs together and have enjoyed harmonizing and making music that is our own. As part of this adventure, we hosted a preview performance a few weeks ago chez Anderson, where we invited a few people to hear a set of music we’d been working on. We had a blast entertaining everyone and received some great feedback and lots of new repertoire suggestions! If you’re interested in hearing a couple of clips from that evening’s live performance, I’ve posted a couple of audio excerpts on the media section of my website. The excerpts are from Tangled Up in Blue (Indigo Girls cover, the jazzy verse in the middle) as well as Hand in My Pocket by Alanis Morisette. We’ll be working together over the coming months on some of the new rep and hope to perform as a group again this fall. If you have any suggestions for repertoire that you’d like me/us to explore with this, please let me know!! 🙂

Singing this music and reaching back to songs that I love from college and earlier days has greatly inspired me. The inspiration is enough that I’ve been thinking about writing my own songs about some of the struggles and good times I’ve experienced on my journey over the past few years. It is just an idea at this point, but the possibility of writing my own music and collaborating with some of my closest friends makes me VERY excited. I’m sure there will be more to come on this one in the future… thanks for reading!

About Melanie Anderson

Singer, basketball player, scotch enthusiast, Canadian.
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