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How to Make Your Reggae Vocals Sound Like The Greats  






I find it some what tricky writing about reggae vocals because it so complex and at theReggae Vocals

same time not completely dissimilar to other genres. Nonetheless, here are some things to bear in mind about reggae vocals, if you aspire to be like the great reggae singers.


Contrary to what many believe most reggae vocals are done in English and not in Jamaican. It can also be done in the native tongue or local vernacular of a particular people or country.


Having said that, reggae was made popular to a very large extent by the Jamaican artists and many people believe that to sound authentic, your reggae vocals should maintain the integrity of its Jamaican roots.


If you are an aspiring reggae vocalist I would say in addition to listening to Jamaican reggae artists, you should also listen to all forms of reggae from around the globe to get a good feel of how the various artists approach reggae vocals.  That’s what Marley did; in fact he also listened to vocalist from other musical genres.


With the language aspect of reggae vocals out of the way, let’s take a look at the technique.  To be considered a serious reggae vocalist or artists for that matter, you need to master the art of singing (obviously), Chanting (talking over a beat), DJing which is pronounce as deejaying (the technique the Dancehall artists use) and Sing-J (a mixed between singing DJing).


To understand the last reggae vocals technique, do a quick YouTube search on Sizzla or Anthony B and you will see what I mean.  Many of the time they are neither singing nor DJing but, a combination of both and in essence that’s what Sing J is.


If your reggae vocals mainly involve singing then I suppose you will be ok. But if you want to sound truly authentic then you will have to study all the techniques. One of the best ways to do this if you can afford to, is to actually live in Jamaica for some time.


This really does help.  Probably an example here will help.  International reggae artist Gentleman lived in Jamaica for a very long time eating, sleeping and breathing the music and developing his reggae vocals repertoire.


When people first heard him they did not know he was German because of the authenticity with which he delivered his reggae vocals. Others like Christafari the Christian gospel reggae Group have done the same.  Do a quick YouTube search to find out more on them. 


This is just one way but you can always buy the music of the artists that best reflects your reggae vocals style and learn their tunes back and front.  It’s a tried and tested method that always works.


What to sing about?  Well that’s up to you really but, bear in mind that reggae was never a sell out kind of music.  It’s seen to this day as a rebel and revolutionary music.  With this in mind then your reggae vocals could reflect love, social, political and spiritual matters - The things that really matter to people.


Above all sing from the heart and I can’t emphasize this enough, so I am going to say it again sing from the heart!  Sorry for shouting.  It really does make the difference though.  Many of the great reggae vocalists are not very good technically but they’re passionate and they believe in what they sing. 


I will leave you with this quote from Marley. “Many people know it but yet they can’t do it, its not a know, it’s a feel.” Take care.  Click link for more on the history of reggae vocals


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Dwayne Griffiths

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