Vocalists: how do you get past hating your voice

I used to hate my voice. I would mix it as low as I could without the words getting completely lost, and put as much delay or reverb on it as I could stand. At some point I found myself pushing my voice up in the mix, leaving it dry or using minimal effects, and feeling a lot more comfortable with the way I sounded. Then I would listen to some of the things I recorded and think, "Why didn't I do another take there? That's pitchy. That sounds like crap. That's embarrassing." And on it went.

One day I found myself writing songs for other people to sing and actually keeping some of them for myself, because I felt I could maybe sing them better. And I thought, "Wait a minute...what's happening here? I used to hate the sound of my own voice. Shouldn't I want to farm off as much of this stuff to other people as I can?"

It just kind of worked out that way, over a period of years. The thing I've come to understand is this: if you're a singer, your voice is the most unique instrument you'll ever have. Some of the things you see as flaws might be the things other people love about your voice, that make you unique. Look at Tom Waits. For decades the dude has sounded like he spends his spare time gargling with broken glass and gasoline, but it's hard to imagine anyone else singing his songs better than him.

It's normal to doubt yourself. But the more you work at it, and the more you sing, the more comfortable you'll get with your own vocal personality and all the quirks that come with it.


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