Shannon Dyer is a vocalist who has performed across classical, sacred, folk, and musical theater genres. She has won vocal competitions, served as a church canter, and has performed professionally with chamber ensembles in New York City. I interviewed her about her experiences and vocal technique.
SM: Describe your background, training, and career
My background is highly classical. From the time I was eleven, I was trained classically. One of my majors in college was vocal performance with an emphasis in classical.
However I don’t really like a lot of the classical vocal pieces. They’re definitely challenging and useful for expanding range and making sure diction is good. I’ve taken the classical technique as much as it can be used to sing different genres of music. I sing a mixture of pop, folk,, and musical theater. I tend to shy away from fully classical performances. I did perform full-time for nine months with a full ensemble in New York City. That’s where we got into a lot of the German opera and Italian arias. There were things I really enjoyed about that, but it also taught me that I wouldn’t do well as a full-time classical musician. I prefer different genres of music.
SM: One of the things I noticed when I accompanied you once was the connection between your technical command of the voice and the emotional response of the audience.
I’ve been taught that there is a lot to be accomplished by knowing the technical art of singing. But I’ve also been taught that there is an equal important to channeling your emotions into your singing without losing the technical stuff. It’s an interesting mix–how do I sing this in a way that portrays a certain emotion? People that sing just by emotion tend to lose pitch a lot of times. Sometimes they’re voices will sound strange with cracking and sliding around. You can only sing that way for so long before you’re going to have vocal issues, and I think your overall performance will suffer.