Join us as we take you through the teachers behind the voices of some of the most famous faces. There are numerous singers and actors who pay for voice coaches. Their voices are essential instruments for maintaining demanding careers, and having a coach to help keep a voice from suffering with fatigue or strain is very important. It is rare that you would find a singer or actor who doesn’t utilise some form of vocal coaching to keep their voice in the best shape, but be assured there are some that do not have the best practices when it comes to the upkeep of their voices. We will identify and explore some iconic singers and actors who worked with distinguished vocal coaches.
1. Lady Gaga
When Lady Gaga performed an epic Sound of Music tribute in 2015 blowing us all away, she not only worked with a vocal coach – she worked with a vocal coach every day for 6 months! This shows us that not only is she dedicated to her craft, but she is willing to work extremely hard to achieve her goal and put on an incredible performance. The vocal range required to sing the various songs from the famous 1965 film was not easy, and Gaga made sure that she prepared herself to make it a success. She more than succeeded, absolutely crushing it with a performance that will not be forgotten for many years to come.
Gordon Grody was one of Gaga’s vocal coaches. He has a a great track record for working with some of biggest names in the business. Gordon has worked with Alicia Keys and also sang with some amazing artists like Blondie and John Lennon. He was a pop vocalist and background singer in the ’70’s and ’80’s. He enjoys teaching and recommends that any singers who want to make it their career need to practice their craft as much as possible, especially given how many singers there are out there.
Beyoncé is a perfect example of an accomplished singer with exceptional talent, and her talent did not come without a lot of training. She has been working with the same vocal coach since she was eight years old! This is no doubt that vocal coaching has aided Beyoncé in her singing career. Her coach’s name is David Lee Brewer, and he has been there through her childhood, Destiny’s Child years and through to her modern day accomplished solo artist status. He himself is an established opera singer, having traveled all over the globe, and has stated that even though singing was his talent, teaching is his gift to help others who are working towards celebrity status. He has even written a book about teaching Beyoncé called Beyoncé Raising Genius where he delivers the insight on her rise to fame and how he aided her in her journey to stardom.
3. Anne Hathaway
Anne is well-known for her acting talent, but when she embodied the part of Fantine in Les Miserables she was finally recognised as a singer for the first time in her career. There are some critics who speculated that she didn’t really sing her part, that someone else must have sung for her, but they were wrong. She worked extensively with a vocal coach, Joan Lader, who has worked with other famous singers such as Patti LuPone and Madonna. Anne made sure that even throughout her training she was constantly singing throughout the day because she knew that for her 12 hours on set she’d need to be singing that much, and wanted to be ready to tackle the songs since a lot of the singing was recorded live during the film making. Of course, not that it would take much to get Anne singing – we can’t forget her ‘On My Own’ performance at the 2011 Oscars.
4. Hugh Jackman
Hugh is another actor that wasn’t well-known for his singing abilities until more recently. He broke out in singing as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables next to Anne Hathaway and did some work with her same voice coach Joan Lader in New York to help expand his range for the role. But it wasn’t until his singing role as P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman that he really felt as if he stood out as a singer and not just an actor. Since the singing in this film required more of a pop style as opposed to the operatic style he’d been trained in, Hugh found himself another vocal coach Liz Caplan, who is well-known for working with Tony-Award Winner Ben Platt of Dear Evan Hansen and Neil Patrick Harris. With her help, Hugh even began to enjoy the sound of his own voice, which he said he had not previously liked to listen to. If you watch both films, you can certainly notice the difference in Hugh’s singing and how he sounded, making it obvious the he utilised different vocal techniques.
5. Meryl Streep
Iconic actress Meryl Streep has played many roles in her great career, and some of those consisted of singing roles. In Florence Foster Jenkins she actually had to sing poorly to play the part. She worked closely with the renowned vocal instructor and professor of music, Arthur Levy to actually leran the arias she had to sing well so that she could ruin them as she wanted when singing live and recording for the movie. The singer’s voice was quite screechy and off-key, later making her beloved by her audience as being hilarious. even with her poor singing in this film, Meryl Streep does have a great talent for singing in previous roles, including the role of the Witch in Disney’s Into the Woods in 2014, where she performs with such power in her voice, it’s no surprise that she is nominated time and time again for Oscars, having enveloped the roles characters she plays expertly.
6. Emily Blunt
Another Into the Woods star, Emily Blunt made a big debut in the Disney film, not just with her singing but acting as well, playing the role of the Baker’s Wife. She stated that she was intimidated to work with the likes of Meryl Streep and therefore, took LOTS of singing lessons just for the audition, let alone having them for the movie. It is easy to see that the singing lessons helped since she definitely proved herself worthy of going from actress to singer with her sweet voice, proved more by her nomination for a Golden Globe. She is now set to make an even bigger stamp with songs written specifically for her in the upcoming Disney film Mary Poppins Returns to be out before the end of the year, with Blunt playing the iconic role of Poppins herself.
7. Bradley Cooper
This actor took our breath away with his voice in the film he directed and acted in alongside Lad Gaga, A Star is Born. One of the first things he did long before the film started to shoot was work 20 hours a week on his voice – he worked with voice coach Tim Monich to learn just how he wanted his character, Jackson Maine, to sound. He worked with both a vocal coach and a piano teacher, since he plays piano in the movie as well, for a year and a half ahead of time, to nail everything down. Not only that but Cooper himself leaned on the infamous Gaga for voice coaching during filming. All of the songs in the movie were sung live – no lip synching. Talk about dedication! It will not be a surprise if we see his name when Oscar nominees are announced.
About the Author
Donna Maurer is an aspiring theatre actress in NYC. She has been creatively writing her way through acting school. Since attending her first Broadway show (Cats), Donna’s passion for performance, music and theatre has only grown. She is currently a contributor to various theatre and film blogs. Donna has also received vocal lessons and herself coached at Music To Your Home.