Every woman who comes into my studio wants to belt or wish they could. It’s true! Even my classical Sopranos tell me that they secretly wished they were a belty Mezzo. And you have to admit this is something about that sound. When it’s done correctly, it’s strong, heroic and uninhibitedly feminine.
I have to admit that it’s been a life pursuit of mine to learn and teach true belting correctly. The reason is, I knew many pageant singers who used to blow the roof off in a pageant contest only to completely lose their singing voice in their 20’s. (And almost ruin their speaking voices.)
What is True Belting? Well, it’s NOT the modern high belt that’s popular right now. That particular sound was not ‘in style’ on Broadway just yet. Some artists, however, did use a ‘cry’ type of sound to help them stretch into an upper range – think Aretha Franklin in the song RESPECT
Wiki gives us this definition:
Belting (or vocal belting) is a specific technique of singing by which a singer brings their chest register above its natural passaggio (break) at a loud volume; instead, an alternative production is developed, often described and felt as supported and sustained yelling. ‘Belting’ is sometimes described as ‘high chest voice’ but this is technically incorrect and potentially damaging for the voice. It is often described as a vocal register, although this is also technically incorrect; it is rather a descriptive for the use of a register. Singers can use belting to convey heightened emotional states.
Here is what True Belting sounds like! – – i.e. Liza with a Z.
I was cast in a show years ago called Weird Romance and was cast opposite a belty singer. The storyline calls for the two girls to share a soul and a vocal line. I was in my late teens and very used to singing classical music. My female counterpart, however, was a true pageant belter and one who, on many occasions, lost her voice because of her lack of technique. It was also drilled into my head that belting was BAD so I did not want to follow that same path.
This was the mid 90’s and there were no “belting” teachers to take from in town, so I began listening and studying famous belting voices. Luckily, I had access to the internet and searched for safe methods. I listened to Barbara Streisand, Linda Eder, Patti LaPone, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and listened to the differences and similarities of what seemed to work for me. I noticed that on certain songs, it was extremely easy to find my belt.
I used that ‘ease’ when I studied my solos in the show. And low and behold, I began finding my belt in my songs. I became my first belting teacher. All I new was how not to hurt myself and it worked. I won an acting award at State competition and with all of the rehearsals and late nights, I never lost my voice nor got tired belting. One of the judges during the State competition commented on the director was able to cast 2 girls with the same type of voice! It was the best compliment! My co-star? She was on vocal rest most of the run and unfortunately lost her singing voice.
Today, I’ve fine-tuned that technique and with the training of Bill Bauer, Vocal Pedagogy classes and workshops and study through the National Association of Teachers of Singing, I can pass it on to my students! Belting CAN be easy.
Now for the list of songs that help you find your true belt.
Not For the Life of Me from Throughly Modern Millie.
Many new belters don’t understand how to coordinate the belt placement and their diction. This is a great song to start identifying that you can belt and be understood.
I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor (early version)
Gloria’s earlier sound was easy and better placed. She uses a perfect balance of whine and thyroarytenoid strength.
You Don’t Own Me
This song’s chorus stays in a belter’s tessitura. Use this to learn stamina.
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
Yep, Steve Perry’s rocking tenor voice is perfect for a female voice! If you prefer Arnel Pineda great! I lean toward Steve’s voice because of it’s ease. And I chose a LIVE version to let you hear his amazingness!
Stand by You Man – Tammy Wynette
Tammy Wynette had an amazing easy belt. Her country twang was very helpful. This one is harder because you need to make sure that the nasal consonants don’t bring your focus forward. The vibration of the vowels happen in your throat not your nose. This is another LIVE performance.
I, Who Have Noting – Dame Shirley Bassey
This is the ultimate of belters. My personal hero! Shirley Bassey’s belt is stunning! Her ease and stamina are amazing. Again this is a LIVE performance to hear her powerful yet feminine vocals. Even today her voice is AMAZING! Above is a 1974 version and below is a 1994. In my opinion, no one compares to Dame Shirley Bassey!
And for your enjoyment here she is singing GoldFinger in 2011 at the age of 74!