It’s hard to pick just one “best day” as a session singer, but I have a couple that instantly come to mind. I really love what I do and am lucky to do it! I love session singing. It’s my full-time career, my passion and, I believe, my purpose. Giving a voice to someone’s song is such an incredible thing and very rewarding.
Now, many singers disagree with me. They only want to sing their own songs, and couldn’t imaging putting their heart and soul into music they didn’t create. That’s okay! This job isn’t for everyone (nor is any job, really). I also write my own songs, so I understand that there’s a totally different mindset when the words and music are your own.
Today I’d like to share with you four of my best days as a session singer. I have many more, but these are just the ones that show a wide range of what I’ve seen clients achieve.
My Favorite Session Singing Accomplishments
Obviously, I don’t do session singing for public accolades. Session singing is often a very faceless, behind-the-scenes job that goes largely unnoticed. If your goal is to become famous, you’ll want to skip session singing and work on making your own music or having someone write songs exclusively for you as an artist.
I’m mentioning this because you’ll notice that in all three of these stories, my name isn’t mentioned and I’m not given (or taking) any credit. I may have some songwriting credit, but most music fans don’t pay as much attention to those anymore.
For my clients’ privacy, I’ll also keep their identities private. I’m happy to give clients public shout-outs if they want it, but I haven’t asked any of them so I’ll just give you their stories!
Best Day 1 – The Client Who Cried When She Heard Her Song
“Oh Mella. I sit here with tears in my eyes, listening to our beautiful song. I never thought my music could sound like this!”
This was one of my earliest session singing days, and it immediately let me know I was on the right track for my career. I was so thrilled that she liked the song. She submitted a rough demo and a lyric sheet. I had my guitar player lay out the chords and structure, and we created an early Taylor Swift style song for her. When I’m creating a completely new song from someone’s demo, there’s always a chance they won’t like it. Either the direction of the song is way off from what they were envisioning, or they did want it but upon hearing it decide they want something else. Neither was the case here, and she was so happy. Her happiness made me happy and pushed me to continue with my business, even when the days weren’t this great.
Best Day 2 – The Client Who Was Nominated For an Award
I’m going to name drop here, because she uses my name on her website (and I’ve already written about her here). Ginny Peters is a prolific country artist in New Zealand. She and her producer contacted me privately to ask about adding harmonies to her songs. What started as one project became a multi-song deal where I created, arranged and sang harmonies. Since her music is considered ‘old school’ country, I got to be really creative with my harmony arrangements. Current pop or country harmonies tend to follow the lead closely, without much room for deviation. This style allowed me to try new things which was a lot of fun. I was so excited for her when I got the news that she had been nominated for an award. They told me that typically they only nominate new or new-sounding artists, so this was quite an accomplishment. Although the award did go to one of the newer artists, I was happy to know that Ginny got the recognition she so deserves.
Best Day 3 – The Client Who Got a Publishing Deal
I’ve had this happen several times, but the first one is the one I remember most of course. We co-wrote the song together and although my name isn’t on it as an artist, I do have a songwriting credit on it. This client was very kind to offer this to me as it isn’t required, but I definitely appreciate it when it happens! It was so exciting to know that I worked on something that got someone a foot in the door.
Best Day 4 – The Client Who Got Radio Airplay
This one was quite a surprise for me. I wasn’t even supposed to be the singer on the project. Several other people didn’t work out so I wasn’t sure if I’d be the right singer either. Thankfully the client loved it and we stayed in touch. He let me know that his songwriting circle loved it; someone there had recommended he submit it to a local FM radio station. He did, and later told me that the song had been on heavy rotation for a while. Unfortunately I don’t live in that area so I was never able to hear it, but it’s exciting to know that it resonated with so many people!
I’ve had many clients get songs featured on major podcasts, but there’s something special about good old fashioned radio!
I’m telling you these stories to show you that the sky is the limit for your session singing career. I also want songwriters to know that you can have as much success as any of my other clients! If you’d like to work with me, please contact me and let me know what you need!
Communication is so important as a session musician. So important, in fact, that I wrote a whole book on it. It’s geared toward songwriters, but it will help you understand what you need from them. If you want to check it out, it’s right here!
I am also currently giving private consultations for session musicians. We can talk about whatever you like, whether it’s your current struggles, recording techniques, or any other aspect of running a session business. Feel free to contact me about it here!