How to Sing Like Dolly Parton: 3 Tips to Imitate Her Voice
Sing like Dolly Parton: Does it seem impossible? You may feel like your voice is completely different and there are no ways to shape your voice closer to hers. However, there are a few key things you can change to sound closer to her. You may not sing like Dolly Parton exactly, but you’ll certainly learn a few things and analyze her voice to make it more like your own!
Sing Like Dolly Parton
Disclaimer: I am not a vocal coach, so you’ll want to make sure you already know proper singing techniques prior to trying these. If you’d like an online voice coach, I interviewed one and took his class and highly recommend him.
I also want to say that despite my best efforts, I was not able to sing like Dolly Parton 100%. I don’t think I’ve ever sounded like an artist completely, but I can give you enough tips to help you get there on your own. Simply analyzing their techniques can help you out a great deal, so let’s do that!
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If you prefer to watch the video, here is my video on How to Sing Like Dolly Parton:
1). Dolly Parton’s Range and Timbre
According to this interview, Dolly considers herself a soprano. This is tough for me as an alto – I found when trying to imitate her that I couldn’t keep her light, airy tone on her higher notes. If you’re a soprano, this is a great artist to study!
She has a very slight gravel to her voice. In my video, I said that if Britney Spears’ gravel was like a course sandpaper, while Dolly Parton is a fine grit. This was also tough for me because I tend to over-exaggerate when imitating artists, so the subtlety is lost. Other than the slight gravel, she has an otherwise angelic tone. It’s very light and airy with just a kiss of grit.
2). Vibrato Technique
This is an interesting technique that I’ve heard other country artists (Sara Evans for one) use. During most of a song’s phrase, Dolly has little to no vibrato. Just smooth sailing up until the end of the phrase, where she adds a heavy trill. It reminds me of a goat or a sheep.
Vibrato is tricky and not everyone can do it at all, so this is something you’ll want to practice in a healthy way. If you can’t do vibrato, you can skip it for the most part because she only really uses it at the ends of phrases.
3). Mouth Shape, Placement & Accent
I’m cramming a lot into part 3, but you’ll use all of these simultaneously so it’s important to consider them as one.
Dolly Parton is obviously southern, but she also has a very slight “shh” sound to her “S” consonants. You’ll need to have a southern accent, so here’s a video to help if you need it.
For mouth shape, keep your mouth slightly more closed and visualize the shape as a triangle. This will keep your sinus lifted and your tongue flat.
Dolly’s placement is very high up in her head and the top of her nose. Visualizing the triangle shape will help you with placement. If you need a video, be sure to check mine out to show you how!