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"I'm expensive, [but] I save all the record companies a lot of money. Do you know how many hours in the studio are wasted because the lead singer has lost his voice?"
——Roger Love
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE
Vocal Coach to the Stars Wants to Teach the World to Sing
by Lesley Zimmerman

Having a hit record for a band takes many different people doing many different jobs. And often, at least to the general public, what should be the most obvious is sometimes the most overlooked.

The importance of having a singer who can hit the notes and keep his voice strong enough to endure long touring schedules is tantamount to the very existence of any band. Enter the vocal coach, who teaches the singer how to use his or her voice to its optimum potential. A good coach can bring out the best in an artist's voice while discarding parts of it that aren't working for the music they write and perform. Although most singers may be loathe to admit that they even need a coach, the truth is that most if not all could do with one, if only to help them sustain their own distinctive types of vocal work on consecutive show nights. The vocal coach is quite literally the unsung hero (pun intended) of the music industry.

Roger Love is one of the most prolific vocal coaches on today’s music scene. Boasting a client roster that includes the Beach Boys, Matchbox Twenty, Iggy Pop, Earth Wind and Fire, Mandy Moore, Hanson, Def Leppard and Papa Roach, Love’s technique has earned him notoriety from music business insiders for almost 27 years. Uniquely, Love utilized his vocal coaching talents to become VP of A&R at Extasy Records for the past three years. Extasy is a Japanese-owned company with a Warner Bros. distribution deal.
"I had always wanted to be a singer, so my parents took me to this man named Seth Riggs when I was 13, who at that time was the most famous singing teacher anywhere," Love recalls. "He had Madonna, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Stevie Wonder—all the top artists in the world seemed to be at this studio."

But Love’s career was destined to take another path besides being a recording star himself. "When I was 16, [Riggs] had to go to Canada to teach at a conservatory in Banff, and he asked me if I would come over after school and teach some lessons…my first day I had Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Earth Wind and Fire, Fifth Dimension. Over the next six months while he was away, I worked with all of his famous clients. When he came back, they all decided to stay with me. He brought me in as a junior partner, and I continued to go to high school and college and sing and do everything that I was still planning to do. After school, on the weekends and into the night, I would teach voice. By the time I was 16, I was already the second most powerful voice teacher in the country after him."

Love continued teaching Riggs’ clients, and eventually broke off on his own, attracting students through word-of-mouth. He also began going into the studio with bands throughout the recording process, producing vocals and coaching singers to prepare them for tours. "Up until then, vocal coaches were someone you'd go to if you were having vocal problem, like getting hoarse, but they weren't allowed in the studio because the record company and the producer would be so afraid that you'd turn it into some classical record," he explains.

"I mean, I'm the voice coach for [Papa Roach’s] Jacoby Shaddix—people ask what he needs a vocal coach for—because he needs to learn how to scream without killing himself," Love chuckles. "It used to literally take months for Joe Elliott of Def Leppard to lay down his vocal tracks in the studio. Now he can do them in a matter of hours."

Love’s notoriety didn't stop there—soon speakers like Anthony Robbins and John Gray sought him out for help with their voices. "The speakers didn't want to sing, but they were having problems with their speaking voices," he explains. "I'm really a singing coach, but I worked up a whole technique which basically takes exactly what I do for singers and translates that into a speaker."

Even with his worldwide success, Love didn't rest on his laurels. Instead, he got the idea of bringing his successful technique to the masses, via an audio cassette for school choir programs (Pop Rock Warm-Ups), then a wildly successful video (Sing Like the Stars) and even a book (Set Your Voice Free), which is still flying off the shelves in hardback.

The most recent turning point for Love though has been his stint as VP of A&R for Extasy Records. "I thought this would be an amazing opportunity," he reveals. "If I wasn't at a record company, the most I could do was call up different people at different record companies to try to drum up interest. Some of these artists got signed and some of them did not. I saw this as an opportunity to help people from lessons all the way through to market. I felt that I could be a great A&R person because I've been making records for 25 years, but I also thought I could spot a lot of people under the radar. Record companies may talk about development, but how much development is there really at a record company? I actually am a serious development guy."

Although Love has experienced success during his stint at Extasy (most notably working with Tommy Walter of Abandoned Pools), the restructuring of the company will see him leave his in-house post as VP of A&R to become an independent contractor. He’ll continue to work out of the label offices with some of their artists.

And that's very good news for all the other record labels, as Love is once again free to work with their artists both in and out of the studio.

At $200 per half-hour lesson, "I'm expensive," Love concedes. "But I save all the record companies a lot of money. Do you know how many hours in the studio are wasted because the lead singer has lost his voice?"

Roger Love is available for just such an occasion.

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