I’ve worked with hundreds of singers as a vocal coach.  I’ve also performed alongside hundreds of high level singers throughout my career as a studio and live vocalist.  And the one questions that seems to plague us all the most is “how talented am I”?
It’s drives me crazy, but we ALL think it.  So I’m going to definitively answer that question for you.

Why You Question Your Talent

You may not be old enough to remember this, but the world used to be a much smaller place.

To be a greatly talented singer all you had to be was one of the better singers in your town.
If you were were lucky enough to live in a smaller town the odds of being the ‘talent of the century’ were huge!
Want proof?  Just watch any of the shows about the Amish and see what they thing a great singer is.
Eeesh.

 
But this ain’t then.  And unless you’re living in a small utopian society (and if you are please let us all know where it is), your talent has got serious competition.
Now you don’t just compare yourself with people in your area or even people who sing a similar style.  Now you compare yourself against every singer in every genre across the world.

It’s no wonder we all feel like we should never sing outside of the shower – and sometimes not even there.

Are You Just ‘Born’ Talented?

Most people  believe you either ‘have it’ or you don’t.  And the evidence seems to support it.

celine-family

Celine Dion and her talented family


Talent can be traced through the family trees of some of the greatest singers of all time.
Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five weren’t the only great singers in that family.  Everyone sang well.
But did you know that the ones who performed regularly worked with vocal coaches to sound like that?  That said, there was some crazy great singing in that gene pool.
Celine Dion came from a family of FOURTEEN kids, all who sang beautifully.
Mariah Carey was the daughter of a professional Opera singer who obviously had some killer chops.
So if you’re not from a gene pool that swims with talent you shouldn’t expect to be very talented, right?

Is Talent Learned?

Environment no doubt plays a huge part in how good a singer is.
In fact almost every famous singer and backup singer from the MoTown era would tell you they were gospel50ssinging in church as far back as they can remember.
Whitney Houston was singing church solo’s as a child as were many great singers that we have come to know since.
And almost exclusively, they were raised in black gospel churches where music tends to be more ‘loud and proud’.

There are reasons why gospel churches tend to crank out great singers.  Now I’m going to let you in on a little ‘trade secret’ here so I’m assuming we can just keep this between you and me.
The reason gospel churches have bred more great singers than any other single source is that not always but much of the time, the ‘styling’ singers use in gospel churches puts the anatomy in a better place to take advantage of what the voice is capable of.

Part of what high level vocal coaches like us train is how to get the benefit of those vocal approaches without needing to have had those experiences.

On the other hand, we spend a lot of time fixing the vocal problems that come with the ‘modernization’ of the gospel sound; ie, new bad habits added to old good ones that keep a singer from singing their best or that cause pain or damage in the voice.
But everyone that has sung old school gospel should be incredibly talented, right?
Nope. 
Like I just mentioned, you can have good habits and still have bad ones that keep you from your ‘maximum talent quota’.
We all know we have room to grow.  But how do you know how talented you are RIGHT NOW?

The Talent Formula

(ie. how to tell how talented you are)

Why should you care about my talent formula? 
Because it will, once and for all, tell you how talented you are and what to do about it. 
This is the formula I have seen played out in every great singer in every genre from every decade.
 
Here it is:

Interest + Skill = TALENT

 

Think about it.
 

INTEREST

Not everyone from a singing family will have the interest to sing.  I came from a traveling family trio which my shy middle sister couldn’t wait to escape.  Can she sing today?  Yes.  But not nearly as well as she could’ve if she’d had the interest to drive her to building her skill level.
It’s a simple human fact that without an interest to grow our skills, we never really get very good.
 

SKILL

Skill is simply training plus experience.   Even singing families develop skill from training somewhere along the genetic line.  Remember Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five?
Even the ‘natural born singer’ has had their skills built by family members who have gone through skill building, as in the case of Mariah Carey.

If you learn to speak a foreign language as a young child you won’t remember ‘working at it’.  But if you learn it later in life, you certainly will.   That’s why some singers think they were just ‘born with it’.
The truth is that they’ve learned from other family members who’ve passed on some level of training and the benefit of the experience.

The good news is that skill can be gained at any age.  Sure it’s easier if you got it early and don’t remember having to work at it.  But isn’t it more important to know you can get it right now?

So, are you?

Now you have the tools to answer this question for yourself.  So give it a shot.
Are you talented?
If you have the INTEREST to sing well and some level of SKILL then YES, you ARE talented.
 

Then the next question becomes:  Can I become MORE talented?
Absolutely! 
And here is simple,straight-on. ‘how-to’ to DO it:

INCREASED interest + INCREASED level of skill = MORE TALENTED

Interest drives our willingness to learn and develops our drive to find real answers, not just believe advice on face value.
Skill (proven, solid training plus experience) expands what you’re capable of.
The result is always more talent.

 
Comparing ourselves to other singers is unavoidable in a world that already does it for us. 
But regardless of what others say,  if you have interest and skill you should be giving yourself the honest assessment of ‘talented’. 
It’s not an end to the work, but it is a fact of where you already are.
 

What’s Next for Me?

First, put away any nagging real or imagined voices that question your talent.  If the formula rates you as talented, the only thing to decide is if you want to be MORE talented than you are today.

As long as the interest is there, you are only one step away from continuously becoming ‘more talented’. 
And the more your talent grows, the more you’ll be able to enjoy it!

 
If you’ve just discovered that you are, indeed, talented, you can now spend all of that time once used for questioning for enjoying each improvement you see.
Make it your new habit and you’ll become one of the few who really enjoy the joy of singing.
 
What are you doing to become more talented?  Share with us below!

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