Singers That Changed My Life

We all have pieces of music or singers that bring out certain feelings in us, that create a lasting impression on us that transcends just a “nice piece of music“. But in some cases, a piece of music or a singer’s voice can be literally life-changing.

And for me, I’ve got four singers that changed my life at different times. I heard each of them at very specific times in my life, and in some cases, I literally would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for their music hitting me like it did.

1. Elton John

When I was about 10/11 years old, I discovered Elton John’s greatest hits album in my parent’s record collection. I used to listen to it on repeat for hours at a time. It’s only looking back on it now I can see how much of my musical preferences stem from Elton’s approach. The interesting arrangements, the piano being front and centre, and dramatic yet moving melodies… not to mention the enormous catalogue of material he’s put out over the years.

Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” was probably my favourite. There’s also a very clever key change between every verse and chorus, but it’s covert rather than overt… and I love that.

2. U2/Bono

I’d say this is arguably more a band sound that changed my life, but when I was 14/15, I used to fall asleep to the Joshua Tree album. In particular, tracks 6, “Red Hill Mining Town” really grabbed me. The poignancy of the lyrics, the tenderness in the verses and the intensity in the choruses, all of this added up to something that sticks in my mind to this day.

Quite honestly, I think it’s possibly the best song they ever wrote or recorded, and a fair few comments on this video echo the same sentiments.

3. Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell was the lead singer of Soundgarden, a seminal grunge band out of Seattle at the same time as Nirvana and Pearl Jam. He went on to be the lead singer for Audioslave (with the rest of the band being the instrumentalists from Rage Against the Machine), and then had a long solo career before his untimely death a few years ago.

This song is one of his solo pieces. While Chris Cornell was very hit and miss as a singer live, and there exist some horrendously out of tune recordings of him performing live, his artistry was what made me seek out voice lessons in my early 20s. As such, I wouldn’t be here doing what I do for a living if it wasn’t for his voice and music.

4. Ellis Hall

Now we’re getting niche. Ellis is a singer that is criminally under-recognised. I first discovered his voice on a video performing another Elton John song, “Tiny Dancer”. Ellis takes what Elton did and takes it to a whole new level. He was a protege of Ray Charles, as well as being the lead singer of many groups including a stint for Tower of Power. He is embodiment of ‘the musicman’ and undoubtedly earns his title “The Ambassador of Soul“.

Ellis tries to reinterpret songs to evoke a certain feeling in himself and others when he performs, so his arrangements are always unique yet also very familiar in terms of the feelings they evoke when you hear them. I strongly resonate with that idea. Moreover, I find Ellis’s musicality and artistry to be inspiring – to me personally – to a level not reached by any other singer I’ve encountered to date.

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