For over 20 years Vocalize U has been helping young artists grow their careers. We are honored to be able to support them and the youth that will be the future of our industry. We are honored to have Dave Stroud share his story and why he decided to start Vocalize U.
Over the last 32 years, I have had the honor (and frankly, luck) to work with some of the world’s best vocalists. I originally thought I was going to be a rock star, but as life often does for many of us, my path changed and I found myself coaching those that were living the life I THOUGHT
I wanted. From voices like Kelly Clarkson to Michael Jackson to John Rzeznik(Goo Goo Dolls) to Martina McBride and many others, I have had the privilege of offering assistance to their development. And, what this unique opportunity has offered me is a front row seat to process what all these greats have gone through to get to the top of their game.
Through the past three decades, I have not only had the honor of working with these amazing singers, songwriters, and musicians but I have continued to have a curiosity about voice science and about the creative process. To be the best teacher and coach I can be, I continue year after year to be a student. The more I learned the more I felt the desire to pass on guidance and information to young, up-and-coming singers. Success in this business is not rocket science, but more like a bunch of little choices that, once are lined up, equate to finding success for the artist.
I grew up in Southern Utah and my love of music was greater than my love for anything else. I wanted so badly to be a singer and performer, but I felt like the music business was a castle that only a few were allowed to enter and the rest of us had to sit outside that opaque structure without knowing how to get in or how it worked once you gained access. While the business has changed immensely over the years, and it’s much more transparent, there are still many landmines that artists find themselves stepping in. Additionally, now that the business is more democratic, there are more points of entry and more artists competing for space for their art. There are fewer gatekeepers as well, so the bar to entry is lower than it was to get started, but in the end, the talent at the top of the food chain is more developed than it was 30 years ago. Like anything, standing on the shoulders of giants changes the level of quality at the top.
One great artist I have not only had the privilege of working with, but also calling friend, is a singer named Daniel Bedingfield. Daniel wrote and produced his breakthrough album, “Gotta Get Thru This” in 2000 in his room at home, and at that time it was an amazing feat. Today, everyone is doing it. Yes, you end up at an industry-standard recording studio for final touches and such, but the fact that many, many singers know how to track and engineer their own music at home is common. This is one good example of the change in how singers have grown in their knowledge of making and performing music. This has happened due to all the DIY software and apps available as well as the ease at which we can learn how to do almost anything on YouTube and other digital outlets.
So we’ve got all these artist writing, producing, singing, creating their own amazing music in their bedrooms and basements, but the thing they crave, the thing they need creatively is a collaboration, mentorship, guidance, support and well, an audience. Nothing replaces an in-person educational event. Being with those that think alike, have the same desires, are more than willing to support each other, and also are looking for collaborators is not something you find online. Enter Vocalize U.
I built Vocalize U in 2010 after I resigned from a company I built to education voice coaches (I should also add that I have a little bit of the entrepreneurial streak in me). Under the Vocalize U umbrella, I also created a software for singers called SINGPRO and the combination of the digital tools and the in-person events are my way of trying to give singers the leg up they need to be successful. As a result of the front and center seat I have occupied from working with iconic singers, I felt strongly that giving singers the opportunity that a farm boy from Utah didn’t get would make a difference in their lives.
Over the last decade, we have produced this annual 10- day summer intensive as well as writer weekends in Nashville, a Winter Retreat in the San Bernardino Mountains, and VERY exclusive writer retreats with Ben Folds, James Fauntleroy and other master educators in the music industry.. We have a line-up of brand new writer retreats launching over the next 12 months with such artist residence as Dan Wilson, John Rzeznik, Natasha Bedingfield and many others (stay tuned).
Vocalize U 2019, was by far, our very best 10-day event we’ve experienced so far. We call this event the Vocalize U Artist Intensive and the final word on this name is the most operative. It’s intense. For 10 days we feed, house, eat and drink music from 7 am to 10 pm every day, with up to 200 artists from all over the world. The life-changing results are difficult to put into words. Every year we have attendees leave our program with new contacts, new songs, personal connections to some of the very best coaches in the world and a new sense of what it means to be a creative being. But, most importantly, they leave with a large sense of self-worth around their music.
This is also a chance for those who have made it to ‘give back’. Pentatonix, Mike Posner, JoJo, Jordin Sparks, Natasha Bedingfield, Rodney Jerkins, David Pack, Terry Ellis, Alex Aiono, and many, many industry pros contribute time and expertise to the attendees by either coming and performing or sitting in on our nightly shows to offer feedback after the performances.
The last 2 years we have had the honor of Blue Mics as one of our main sponsors, and we were extremely honored to have Ultimate Ears join them at this past July’s event. Blue and UE each gave full scholarships to young talented singers. Ultimate Ears chose a young 12 year old girl from Texas named Ali Nelson and without the support of UE she would not have been able to attend. This was most definitely a life changing experience for her and we are so very grateful to UE for that support.
As well as supporting aspiring artists, both Blue and UE came to Vocalize U with extensive education on their products and the proper use in professional performance and recording settings.
We are deep in planning for our VUAI 2020 event that is coming up in July. We already have amazing educators and industry folks marking their calendar to come support the cause and we are proud to be associated and look forward to continued communication with Ultimate Ears. I personally have a set of UE LIVEs and could not be happier with them. In fact, with the Bluetooth cable I added, I pretty much have them attached to me all the time and use them for all my music listening. Thank you, Brian, Jenine and everyone at UE for your kindness and support!
Dates: JULY 18TH-27TH, 2020