learn to sing

Sing Gospel Songs with Power


If you've enjoyed any of the legends of gospel music, you've likely been inspired by the power with which they deliver their vocals. If you've viewed them in concert, you may also be impressed by the way they communicate their feelings as they sing gospel songs.



You might wonder why choirs often struggle when they try to sing gospel songs. The truth is that you have to employ some unique vocal techniques when you sing gospel songs, which are much different than the techniques you use when you're performing typical choir songs.


Gospel music is often thought of as a descendant of the slave songs of the Americas. The slaves in the Americas kept their spirits up as they worked by singing songs of deliverance, often with a double meaning.


A common gospel variation is the call-and-response gospel song. Typically this is a two part song, with one part calling out a question or challenge and the other group calling out a re-phrasal or answer. Then the main chorus is sung by both groups. The lyrics will tend to repeat several times. The song is always sung with emotional tones.



Gospel music is not similar to hymns. Gospel music consists of repetitive lyric about the personal deliverance received or hoped for in the future. Hymns are typically multi-verse praises of the attributes of God. Being so personalized, gospel music is delivered in the emotion of the personal experience of the individual singing, while hymns, being praises, are sung in the reverence to the greatness of God. So it is just as inappropriate to sing gospel songs without emotion as it is to sing hymns without awe and reverence. When someone used to singing with reverence tries to sing gospel songs, it often comes off as an uninspiring personal testimony.


When you sing gospel songs, you have to reach into your own past personal delivery experience or your own hope for the future. While you must stay true to proper singing form and technique, you do so with the concept of giving a joyful personal testimony. If you're used to singing with reverence, it can be very difficult to learn to sing gospel songs appropriately.


Technically, singing gospel songs requires well developed supporting muscles for voice and breath. You don't just have to feel it emotionally, but you have to have the power to deliver it physically. You must have total control over your breath.


The Fontanelli is a form of posture and breath control practice that may be helpful for those who want to sing gospel songs. You simply stand well postured in front of a tall mirror as you take in air for 4 seconds and then exhale for 4 more seconds until your lungs are empty. If you're doing it correctly, your midsection will fully expand as you inhale and remain expanded as you exhale. As you become more advanced, you can increase your breath time by one second. Over time you should be able to get up to 8 seconds on each inhale and exhale. Once you're there, insert an 8 second hold on your air after inhaling before exhaling whenever you do this exercise.


The messa di voce is a form of dynamics practice that may be helpful for those who want to sing gospel songs. You simply take a deep breath and sing out a single note as an easy pitch as you slowly get louder and then quieter.


It may also be helpful to study how professionals express themselves while they sing gospel songs. But, don't become such a mimic that you lose your own testimonial expression. Sing gospel songs clearly and with everything you feel. If you're not sure how you feel, study the songs over for how they relate to your life before you sing the gospel songs.