Ok… let’s chat vocals. Specifically backing vocals. As a young singer on the music team, I used to question my importance as a support singer in a service. “Can anyone even hear me out the front?”, “Does it really matter if I don’t know the words that well?”, “I’ll just sing the melody, since the focus is on the worship leader anyway, right?”.
I’m sure we’ve all asked ourselves these questions at some point or another. For some reason, backing vocals get labelled as a lesser role, or less work, compared to others on team. This is furthest from the truth! Let me throw some new labels out there that might change your mind, whether you’re a backing vocalist or a worship leader, this is worth catching…
[ YOU ARE A LEADER ]
A BV shares just as much leadership as the WL (worship leader). Let me explain. A WL’s job is to lead the congregation. This doesn’t necessarily mean they should sing every lyric and every note. A WL should be making calls as to where to go next, which may also mean that they speak or sing over the top of the current section being cycled. They direct traffic! As a BV, it is so important that you are nailing the lyrics, and nailing your harmonies, and paying very close attention to where the WL is headed (all at the same time!). During these moments, the congregation is singing along with YOU, not necessarily the WL. By singing your part correctly and strongly, this then frees up the WL to pay close attention to the Holy Spirit, and to the room. Help your WL by leading the congregation with energy and accuracy!
[ YOU ARE PART OF THE BAND ]
Technically speaking, we should be creating harmonies that work beautifully with the chords. If you’re unsure of what a harmony actually is… it is simply a group of notes that create a chord, just like the band. Harmonies can be instinctive but should be on purpose. Don’t settle for what your ear naturally hears, as sometimes it may clash with the chord being played underneath. Our musicians work really hard to accurately play chords and to create beautiful textures in our worship sets, and it is a real tragedy when we, as BV’s, take this lightly and sing whatever we want. Dig a little deeper, listen to each other as a group of vocals, and listen to the band!
The relationship between a WL and a BV is crucial. Never be afraid to have a conversation around what you are singing, and what chords you are forming together. Not only that, but some sections may not require all vocals… so talk dynamics as well!
[ YOU ARE VALUED ]
There is nothing worse, as a singer than to be told, “You’re JUST a singer…”. If you have ever been told that, ignore it, pray it off… do whatever it takes to get that out of your thinking! This kind of label hurts people and breeds complacent attitudes and mediocrity. Please understand that being a “singer” does not make your instrument or your skill any less than any other musician. We may not have the guitar line or the drum break, but we have the God breathed lyrics and melody. Come on! If that’s not enough incentive to bring excellence to God’s house every week, then what is? Our role is exciting. Our role is dynamic. Our role adds energy and vibrance to what the band is creating. You are the sound of heaven!
Last but not least…
Be on the front foot.