I have been singing, writing songs, and performing folk music both as a solo artist and in a band setting for 20 years. Before that, I never sang a single note. I never sang in the choir, I was never in drama, nothing. As a matter of fact, singing wasn’t something I ever imagined I would even consider doing because all I was a guitarist, bassist, and songwriter. As a young person, I was in bands with guys who sang so I never had to worry about it. Ok, I take it back, back in my old metal band I “screamed” backing vocals but that was about it. When I decided to pursue this new musical journey back in 1996, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I bought an acoustic guitar, wrote all these songs, and said to myself, “Well, if anyone’s going to sing these songs it’s gotta be you since you don’t know anyone who sings this shit.” So from there, I started singing. I remember a friend being over at my house (I lived w/ my folks at the time) and she was a great and trained singer. She says, “Sing for me.” So I sang a song I had written called, “Stay Away” (haven’t played that song in 17 or so years). Anyways, when it was done, she looked at me, smiled and said, “Wow. That did not suck at all. You’ve got a voice in there but you’re afraid to let it out. You just need to find it, make it stronger, and learn to love it.” So there the relationship began… with my voice.
It wasn’t always great and it wasn’t always terrible. For the first five years or so, I struggled with a vocal identity. I tried to sing like a bluegrass singer, I tried to sing like a blues singer, I even tried to emulate Jerry Garcia which was a horrible mistake. Finally, I just gave up and decided to sing like myself. I didn’t like it but it was my voice and, like my friend said, I had to find it and learn to love it. I played out relentlessly. I played local open mics every week and played my own shows (sometimes doing two sets) and the more and more I played, the more I could hear my voice growing. One night, I was playing a show in Charlotte, NC in 2000 and after my set someone came up to me and said, “Man, you remind me a lot of Kevn Kinney from Drivin’ N’ Cryin’. You have a great voice.” That must have been what I needed to hear because from there I just continued to grow my voice, get to know it, and eventually, while I didn’t love it, I learned to like it and to live it.
Fast forward to 2016 and here I am, 20 years later. I’ve been singing and playing guitar in a folk rock trio called Collins Drive for the past few years. For some reason, I just realized that the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is so very wrong. I have been singing more than I ever have and stronger than I ever have but I just felt that I needed to learn more about my voice as an instrument. I connected with a vocal instructor by the name of Ron Abraham and this was the man that was going to help me get to know this instrument a little bit. He started me off by doing some warm ups and singing a few of my own songs to him. Right off the bat he smiled and said, “You have a really good voice but there is definitely some work to be done in order to make it better, stronger, and more confident.” Well, today was my, I believe sixth lesson maybe (already losing track) and today, after singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, he just smiled and told me, “I have really enjoyed watching you grow and you are really getting so close to really capturing it.” This was such a huge compliment and I left the studio glowing and full of song.
Working with Ron has been a huge eye opening, humbling, and exciting experience. He really inspires me, roots me on, and calls me out when I’m flat. “Watch that 1/4! Again!” Ron just makes me want to be a better singer and to continue to grow… even if it means singing “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Croft over and fucking over again! So here I am! Not so bad for some crummy singer who never though he had a voice huh? Turns out I do have a voice and not only am I learning to love it, I’m learning to nurture it and to give it the best possible life I can give it.