"What do you want to be when you grow up?", "What do you love to do?", "A Singer."
These are two questions I often ask my students, and the answer I usually receive. It is great to have ambition and dreams of something great, like being a performing artist, but there is so much more to it then just going on stage and singing. The next few blog posts will look at some of the components needed to become a professional singer.
First I would say: LISTEN! Even before you begin formal singing lessons, this is something you should-Listen to as many singers and genres of music that you can: Country, Pop, Jazz, Blues, Roots, Classical, Opera, Native Throat Singing, African, Indian, Iranian, Asian, etc., as many cultures as you can-why? Because you want to be exposed to as much music as possible, but also, to expand your ability as a singer and not get stuck in one genre. It is great if you are able to sing, Blues, Country and Pop; or Opera, Pop and Musical Theatre, or what every combination you want. However, in saying this, although expanding your singing capability is important, I would focus on one of the 3 genres to be your strength, it is better to excel at one and be well versed in a couple others, then to be mediocre in 3 genres. For example, Kelly Clarkson (first American Idol) was seen mainly as a 'pop. singer', but has also crossed over into country. Taylor Swift came out more as a pop/country singer. Being able to 'cross over' is a great asset as a professional singer.
So, go to your local library if need be, or free streaming sites, or download off itunes and listen to great artists, like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joe Williams, Nina Simone, Carly Simon, Carol King, Simon and Garfunkl, Sarah Harmer, Serena Ryder, Melissa Etheridge, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Areatha Franklin, Jane Monheit and so many more.
Listen to where they breath in the song, how the slide their notes, how loud or soft they go, if they draw out the phrase, if they use a 'character voice', try to harmonize with them, etc. Listen to the music behind the artist as well.
STUDY IT, ANALYZE IT, IMITATE IT.