An Interview with Kyle Bellinger, Singer/Songwriter, Voice Actor & Worship Leader
Kyle Bellinger and I met through my site and once I heard his story, I wanted to introduce you to him! Like many of us, he wears many musical hats. However, he’s been able to diversify in some unique ways and has some great insights into inspiration and working in the music industry. His links and music are included so you can listen while you read!
Kyle Bellinger Interview
Let’s start with an intro – tell us about you! Where are you from, etc:
My name is Kyle Bellinger. I’m originally from Indianapolis, IN. I went to college in Missouri, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music ministry. I’m married to my beautiful wife Charissa, and we have 3 kids ages 11-15. We now reside in Missouri.
How did you get into music? Are you from a musical family?
My parents were divorced when I was very young. My older brother and I lived with my mom, but I didn’t get my musical ability from her. It was only years later that I figured out that my father had a singing voice, and so I always attributed my ability to him, even though he wasn’t a part of my life.
I do remember singing commercials with my cousins and my brother as a young kid. We had a tape recorder and we would sing the old ABC television song from the 80’s, and the Coke Is It commercials from the 80’s. Once we all went to camp and learned campfire songs and recorded us singing those. We would be singing so loud that the grown-ups would tell us to quiet down. We really close and loved hanging out like that. I remember we used to make our own mix tapes from songs we heard on the radio. Back then you had to wait for the station to play your song and be ready to press record on the boom-box as soon as you heard it. So all of that was just for fun.
Interesting! So when did you seriously get into pursuing music?
My real musical journey began when I was in sixth grade. My friend convinced me to take the music elective. When the teacher asked what instrument I wanted to play, I said the same thing everyone else said…trumpet. But she said there were too many trumpet players, and signed me up to play trombone. I was a complete wall-flower so I went along with it. My friend never stuck with music, but I did. I played trombone all through junior high, high school, and even majored in trombone in college.
In my teens I got involved in my church’s Fine Arts ministry (youth choir, puppets, handbells, drama, and multi-media). Each year they put together a program and we performed and even took short-term mission trips and performed at the places we worked. That ministry laid the ground work for going to a Christian college, where playing trombone and performing in various groups with the college opened up opportunities to record in a real studio. And I was completely sold out to music by then. I knew my career was going to involve music somehow. Before graduating college, I became very interested in singing and I’ve been primarily a vocalist my entire life.
Who are your musical influences?
It’s funny how your influences change over the years. In high school and college, I was into M.C. Hammer, Michael Jackson, Prince, dc talk, Petra, etc.
Now I’m into black rock singers like Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust), Corey Glover (Living Colour), Michael Tait (Newsboys), Lenny Kravitz, and Seal. My voice sounds a lot like them, and so I’m very interested in their works.
On your website, you offer multiple services. I’m going to ask about each one separately. How did you get into session singing?
I first step foot into a professional recording studio when I was a member of my college’s touring group, and I was immediately hooked! I was just fascinated with the whole recording process. Since college, I’ve recorded with many bands, but it wasn’t until 2018, when a friend contacted me to see if I’d be interested in singing vocals on his progressive rock project, that I really started to think about offering session singing as a service. I learned a few things he taught me about building a home studio. Recently, I started to take inventory of all the musical and theatrical skill-sets that I have and realized that I could offer other services as well.
How did you get into songwriting?
My songwriting strengths are lyrics and melodies. When I was young, I was one of those nerds who listened to an album from beginning to end and read all the song lyrics as the song was playing, if they were printed on the album. I was captivated by the writer’s words that seem to draw me in emotionally. And it seemed like they were speaking directly to me. I wanted to have that unique ability, so I started writing my own lyrics in high school and as I learned more musically, the better I got at writing. There’s always room to grow as a writer, so I’m hoping some growth will come with working on other projects.
How about worship leading?
My degree is in worship ministry, and I have served in many churches and led worship for events, and planned hundreds of services and special music events over the years. I have experience building worship teams and leading worship bands. There are many smaller churches that can’t afford to regularly staff a worship leader, and I’ve been a fill-in worship leader on numerous occasions, so I wanted to list this as a service too.
How did you get started in Voice Acting?
I have acted in drama presentations and productions in my youth and as an adult, as well as performed voice-over work for organizations like Christ In Youth, and Good News Productions, International. I realized this is another service I could offer and I’m looking forward to doing more projects.
Since I’m a session singer too, I want to focus on that for a bit. What made you want to get into session singing?
The strong desire to work with professionals in places like Nashville. However, I was looking at it from more of an artist and performer aspect. But the distance was a HUGE challenge since I live in Missouri. I knew I was never able to pick up and move there, since I have a family. When I started to think about the possibility of being a session singer, I was still frustrated that I lived so far from a major music city, and needed to realistically look at how I was going to make connections from a distance. I reached out to an acquaintance that shared with me that he splits his time between Nashville and Missouri. So, I started looking into that possibility, and the idea of being a session singer began to make more sense.
I could go to Nashville once or twice a month being a session singer. I’ve already taken a few vacation trips to Nashville and was able to visit with some brilliant people that were recommended to me. Then I did some online research and found sites like Fiverr and Soundbetter, where people were doing session singing from their own home studio. My wife and I talked about the possibility of investing in a small home studio, and that led me to do more searching online and reaching out to others who are already doing this. Of course one of those sites was Mella Music, where I found out that you offer consulting services. Now, I’m confident I can do this and offer a quality product, while growing personally.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of session singing?
My favorite would be hearing the final product and talking with the satisfied customers. It’s the best feeling. The worst is building a home studio. I’m not a tech-head or gadget person, and trying to explore what makes one microphone better than another makes my eyes gloss over.
What kind of clients work best with you?
Those who have a good idea what they’re wanting, but are not on a strict deadline. I’m still building my home studio, so I’m partnering with some friends that have a great home studio set up I can use. However, it takes an extra step for me to schedule things with them, and making sure there are no scheduling conflicts.
Also, who should NOT work with you? For example, I’ve written about clients I’ve fired. Have you ever had to fire someone?
I’ve never had to fire someone yet. Maybe I can get some pointers from Mella Music about that! 😊
You’re also a songwriter. Do you find it hard to work on your own music while working on other peoples’ songs?
No, not at the moment. My band is not performing right now, or even rehearsing for the next several weeks since the COVID rates have increased in Missouri. However starting in 2021 I’m looking to work on my own music with a producer in Nashville. So, things may get busy. I’m also filling in as co-worship leader at my home church, splitting those responsibilities with another person since our worship minister recently resigned. There may even be an actual job offer in the coming weeks/months. And I also have a full-time job working from home, so it’s busy in some other areas.
Where do you go for inspiration? Do you have a songwriting space or ritual that helps?
Working from home gives me the natural space and “alone/quiet time” I like when writing. I suppose that’s a good thing about the Pandemic. I’m also learning the guitar when I’m on break. My employer also encourages us to find things away from the computer and “isolation” that help motivate, and inspire us while working from home. Reading the Bible, listening to worship music and planning worship for services gives me LOTS of inspiration to be creative with song transitions and other forms of art that are non-musical. Inspiration is all around!
How has quarantine impacted you as a performer? Has one aspect of your career been affected more than others?
My band was set to launch ourselves into performances in the spring of 2020 after the release of our single…well all that changed. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve done one online performance. Sadly, that’s been our only show in 2020. But I suppose the pandemic has been good in other ways, because we now have thought of a way our band can creatively utilize pre-recorded video and “premier” them as live performances on social media. So, while live shows are very rare, we can still create regular episode style content, and I’m excited about that. Of course, I still do worship leading at church in-person while practicing social distancing. And of course, session singing and voice-over work can be done at home or in a studio with very few other people. Things have definitely changed in music…probably forever!
When you’re not working on music, what do you do in your free time? How do you strike a balance between creative time and rest?
My wife and I love to travel. We’ve probably taken more risks with that this year than we should have, but we tend to look for small get-a-ways where there’s not a lot of people around. I also enjoy spending time with my kids. However, I share custody, so there’s some time that we are without them, and I miss them when they’re not home. I also relax with my wife watching something on streaming services.
Most importantly, where can people contact you if they want to hire you? Let us know your social media links!
I can be reached through my website: www.kylebellingermusic.com