Jon Caramanica wrote an interesting piece on the man behind several mega-pop stars whose real voices are, shall we say, in need of technical enhancement. He opens with a description of the scene at a recording studio in which Justin Bieber is preparing to “work” while surrounded by a throng of people who crave his attention. Except for one particular individual, that is:
Then there was Kuk Harrell, the only person not openly vying for Mr. Bieber’s attention, who moved through the scrum quietly, every so often checking settings on a computer. Mr. Harrell is Mr. Bieber’s vocal producer, filling a many-layered and amorphous job: part vocal coach, part cheerleader, part sound engineer, part therapist. <source>
Yes, Mr. Harrell, who “moved through the scrum quietly”. This is as it should be, because such a man exists in order to perpetrate the monumental fraud that Justin Bieber is a true vocal artist, and he needs to stay hidden. Mr. Harrell’s other clients only prove the point:
His client roster also includes Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna, and his job is to make sure that the star’s vocal is as powerful and flawless as it can be.
“Powerful and flawless,” sure. Those are the words that come to mind whenever I accidentally hear a Jennifer Lopez song…
Here’s a funny anecdote by Jenny herself:
Ms. Lopez said that Mr. Harrell “can find your strengths, and he can pull those out,” adding, “Everything is always done in an encouraging sort of way. One of his favorite lines — I don’t know if he uses it with everybody, but he uses it with me — is: ‘That’s a superstar performance right there! That’s it!’ And it just makes you feel so great about what you’re doing.”
In other words, he lies to her. Lies so well, in fact, that he has convinced her that she possesses “strengths” and that he can “pull them out” of her. Now that is some salesmanship.
But hey, Jenny-from-the-block, don’t take my word for it. Just watch this clip of Elvis Presley singing gospel music backstage after a show — go to the 1:30 mark in the video and just listen to the man’s voice.
This is what real singing sounds like. And it doesn’t sound like you, or Bieber, or me, and no soundboard scams by Kuk Harrell are going to get you there.