Gospel singers have always been noted for their beautiful and powerful voices. They are also known to have incredible energy and for their great abilities to express.
So if gospel songs are so powerful, why is it that some church choirs fell flat and fail whenever they try to attempt them? Well, it may be because in order for them to sing gospel, they would have to take their minds off the traditional church music.
Gospel songs came from the Negro spirituals from the American South during the mid-to-late 19th century. Most of the African slaves did not have formal education and were taught by the Christian missionaries through repetitive call-and-response songs.
A leader sings a praise that the group has to repeat in a call-and-response song. Usually, there is a refrain or a chorus that everyone sings. This made it easy for the missionaries because the songs have simple lyrics and they are repetitive with the emotion heartfelt. Traditional church music may not be repetitive and a person who has not undergone formal education will find it hard to sing this kind of song. A lot of church choirs and music ministries fail to deliver traditional music with emotions because in some churches, too much emotion may seem a bit inappropriate.
To be able to sing gospel songs, you first need to have the mindset that you shall “make joyful noise unto the Lord”. Do not be too uptight and just have fun. On the other hand, this does not mean that you should ignore vocal technique. Some people believe that next to opera, gospel may be next most difficult and demanding music for singing.
A powerful voice is the number one requirement for gospel singers. Along with that, of course, is incredible breath support. In gospel music, the phrasing is dramatic, long and emotional. It is like the singer is telling a story and for people to appreciate it, he or she must convey the emotions well. The singer himself/herself should also be able to feel the emotions because the audience can detect when he/she is only faking it.
Gospel singing requires a good breath support. To achieve that, one way is the Fontanelli exercise wherein you stand properly while slowly breathing in through the mouth, mentally counting to four. Next, exhale all of the air you breathed in gradually, also in four counts. Look at yourself in a full-length mirror to ensure that your midsection is expanded even while you are exhaling. Then, when it becomes easy for you to do this in the count of four, try to increase the count. When you reach the seventh or the eight, add a hold phase. So breathe in the count of four, hold for four and then release in the count of four. Remember, do this exercise while maintaining an expansion in your midsection.
Next, gospel music is also rich in dynamics or the loudness and softness of the singing. So try to work on your placement by taking a good breath and starting with a comfortable mid-range, start softly and gradually get louder.
Expression is also needed to sing good gospel. With this, what you need to know is you should study the lyrics of the song and try to remember some moments of your life where the song’s meaning is very appropriate.
Singing gospel may seem a bit hard at first but just have fun and you can be a good gospel singer in no time.