What Singers Can Learn from Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell
"Chris Cornell@P&L" by eldh is licensed under CC BY 2.0
His voice took us on so many emotional journeys and I know his like will surely never come again.

On May 18th, 2017, the world lost Chris Cornell, a beautiful soul, a phenomenal talent. Many are trying to make sense of this but how do we make sense of such a tragedy?

Well, I respectfully put forth that perhaps there’s something we can learn, something we can take away from his staggering presence and body of work. So, what can Chris teach us?

1. To find our power and learn to be comfortable with it

The power of the singing voice and how it changes lives deserves respect, not just from listeners but from singers, too. When I refer to ‘power’, I don’t mean ‘belting’ or ‘oomph’….

I’m talking about the inner confidence of knowing how to put words to music (if you write, or make the words your own if you don’t), open your mouth and connect with different types of people.

It’s intangible, unquantifiable and mysterious, like the ocean. Consider the ocean: no matter how calm it seems, it still has the power to change everything.

Look at the many faces of Chris’s power: from the early Soundgarden days, to them hitting the big time (around “Black Hole Sun”), and on to his acoustic cover songs (his version of “Billie Jean” will destroy you, btw) and beyond.

True, his range changed, but never his power. Start to find yours. Baby steps; it’s not a linear process, so let it flow…like the ocean. Then, accept it and use it for the greatest good.

2. To stand in your truth

This is a bit of a subtopic of point #1 but deserves its due just the same. Standing in your truth as a singer can be like trying to catch a flitty little butterfly.

However, if you succeed at finding out who you are vocally, you’ve accomplished a lot, and probably far more than many of your fellow vocalists ever will.

Being objective about your truth is one of the hardest things creative people can ever do.

You see, being objective about your truth is one of the hardest things creative people can ever do. I have another article which will discuss knowing thyself, but for now, start finding out who you are vocally by finding out who you are, period.

What do you like? How do you feel? What do you despise? Getting clear on this will help you on your quest to be an artist, I promise.

3. Ask for help

Many people have trouble asking for help; it can go against their nature, they perceive taking help as “weak”, or they want control of things. Whatever your MO, I highly recommend you examine this personality trait (if you have it) and see if it truly serves you.

Asking for help can be a wonderful way to give others a way to do something loving for you, in addition to allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

I also highly recommend reading Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking”; whether or not you dig her music, it’s an excellent book about this very topic.

And if you need help with an addiction: Seriously. Please. Ask for help. Chris did, when he checked himself into rehab back in 2002. I wish he’d asked again.

Please, if you’re struggling, know there’s help out there for you. You’re not alone. You’re loved. I hope Chris knew that, too.

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