When it comes to learning something new, you want to learn from the best. So when Christina Aguilera announced she'd be teaching a MasterClass on singing, we immediately logged on and started doing some scales and vocal warm-ups. The six-time Grammy Award winning artist will focus on vocal performance and technique, including breath control, range, and—duh—some growls. (#SignatureMove) We caught up with Aguilera to talk mentoring, her earliest memories of singing, and what she'd tell her younger self.
Marie Claire: How did your MasterClass project come about?
Christina Aguilera: I thought this was a great opportunity to continue mentoring and coaching, which I love to do on The Voice, but now I get to do it with everyone. I also loved the idea of getting to help singers everywhere around the world reach their potential.
MC: What was your biggest fear or focus as you prepared for the sessions?
CA: The main issue was really pinpointing the key areas that I wanted to share with students that I felt would really help them grow as singers. There are so many little nuances that help a singer grow and trying to decide which I wanted to highlight was a challenge, in a good way. My goal with the curriculum was to demonstrate basic techniques from warm ups to breath control and even areas such as stage presence and finding your own style. The goal was not only to help with technique but also help artists to really figure out what style represents them and who they are as artists.
MC: What do you think is the one thing many students are apt to overlook when it comes to singing/performing? Something they don't factor in?
CA: So many singers think it's about that huge note and I learned especially from people like Sia and Linda Perry that the beauty often comes in the tender moments and the slight imperfections. It's about knowing when to use that vulnerable voice and then when to go for the huge note.
MC: What did this experience teach you about yourself?
CA: Anytime someone is tasked with teaching something to someone else I do feel like you say "Wow, I knew more about it than I thought." I have been singing since I was four years old, so much of what I know and learned was from performing. I didn't attend a performing arts school where techniques were taught to me so a lot of what I do I do instinctively. It was fun to then show that.
MC: What is your first memory of singing? Any specific song come to mind?
CA: As a little girl I loved listening to the blues. My mom and grandmother bought me my first Etta James album and I loved singing her music.
MC: Why do you think mentoring is so important?
CA: I think in any profession when you have the chance to give back and help shape the career of someone just starting you should. We all have had mentors in our lives, that one person who helped you turn a corner or make a breakthrough in your craft and we each should be that for others.
MC: What song is your favorite to sing and what song do you think is harder to sing than it seems?
CA: Asking an artist to choose a favorite song is like asking to pick which child you love more. Each song I have performed holds a special place or special memory for me.
MC: What gets you pumped before a performance? Do you have any rituals?
CA: Believe it or not even this far down in my career I still get nervous before I perform. I make sure my voice is warmed up and use throat spray and lozenges to make sure it isn't dry.
MC: You've switched up your look a ton during your career—do you think a look helps or hinders performances in some ways?
CA: I love being a chameleon when it comes to fashion and beauty. People take that stuff way too seriously and it's really fun to play with looks.
MC: If you could go back in time and tell a younger version of yourself anything, what would you say?
CA: All those auditions and wedding singing gigs will pay off.
Sign up for Christina Aguilera's MasterClass at MasterClass.com/CA.
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Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for Latina.com, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.
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