This Is My Story (and I'm sticking to it)
Kevin Richards is one of the most well respected Rock and Pop vocal teachers in the world. With past and present students ranging from American Idol finalists, Broadway singers to major recording artists, Kevin has carved a unique niche among Rock, Pop and Metal singers/musicians all over the world.
In a recent interview, Kevin talked about his long career in music and how he oddly started out his musical career not as a singer, but as a drummer.
"When I heard The Beatles blaring on a friend's stereo at age 11, I knew I wanted to be a musician; and the drums were the instrument that appealed to me the most. I became obsessed with The Beatles and anything from the sixties. I would run home from school to play my drums along to my records until my Mom called me for dinner. If I could sneak some "drum time" in after dinner, I took every opportunity. I became quite a good drummer in a very short amount of time."
"From a young age I was always singing along to songs on the radio or to the crooners my Dad listened to on Saturday mornings. Singers like Big Crosby, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme; found I had a knack for copying how I heard them sing. As a kid I became fascinated by celebrity impressionists; I became transfixed with the idea of being able to imitate other people's voices. I started experimenting with my own voice constantly, trying to imitate anyone around; teachers, friends, adults and TV celebrities. I found I could not only copy their voices, but I could copy how they moved their body as well; I still do that to this day. I walk behind people on the street and try to imitate their walk or their voice as they talk on the phone. It gives me a little insight into what it's like to be them - without it being creepy. At least I hope not."
I was shocked, scared and thrilled all at the same time. On that day a lead singing fanatic was born.
"As I got into high school I started my first of many bands with friends, playing in garages and basements, jamming on songs from bands we liked; but it never really got that serious. It wasn't until I was about twenty-two that I decided I wanted to do something more serious, so I started putting ads in the local music papers looking for musicians. That led to several band line-ups and many failed attempts at securing a recording contract with me on drums. Each time the labels would say 'we like the songs, but not the singer'. The singer for my bands was my best friend and I felt terrible nobody liked his voice, so I would make up other excuses on why the labels passed on us to spare his feelings. I suggested he start formal vocal lessons with a teacher, but instead he bought Jim Gillette's 'Vocal Power' singing course - on cassette! Unfortunately, after about two months of trying, he gave up and handed me the cassettes saying he "didn't see the point" and he quit the band."
"Without a singer in the band we were sunk. We auditioned a few guys, but never found exactly what we wanted. Our manager at the time called a meeting and suggested that since I wrote all the songs and was a better singer than anyone we were auditioning, I should take over on lead vocals. I was shocked, scared and thrilled all at the same time. On that day a lead singing fanatic was born."
"I started taking singing lessons with various teachers in my area and learning as much about the voice as I could. I bought vocal book after vocal book, singing course after singing course trying to acquire as much knowledge as possible. I still buy them today because there's always something new to learn."
"That band, with me on vocals, submitted new demos to big and small record labels, hoping someone would like us; but by then it was 1992 and bands like Nirvana had taken over the music business. We found that our "Commercial Metal" style of music was suddenly out of fashion. We kept the flame burning for about a year, hoping for the right break, but in the end the band called it quits."
"But all was not lost! Two years later our former manager called me and said he heard back from a record label in Japan that wanted to sign the band. I though he was playing a cruel joke on me because it sounded so absurd after all this time, but he was serious. They wanted us to re-record 8 songs for release on their label. After the band broke up, two of the members had moved on to other things and had not played any music in all that time, so it took us a good two months to whip the band back into shape."
I'd like to think they're all stuck in a shoebox in someone's closet or attic just waiting to be rediscovered by their children. One can dream can't they?
"We recorded six old songs and two new ones I had written since the band broke up. They had us remix two songs to make the guitars louder and off it went to the presses. The CD "Back for More" came out in the Spring of 1996. It is now long out of print obviously and I ended up only saving one original CD for myself. I had four copies once, but over time gave three of them away to friends. We ended up selling 18,000 copies of our CD - not bad for an unknown band before the internet and YouTube. Who knows how many have survived by now? I'd like to think they're all stuck in someone shoebox in a closet or attic somewhere just waiting to be rediscovered by their children. Well, one can hope can't they?"
"With the release of the CD, we were sent out on a package tour opening up for another band on the label from the Japan in the Summer of 1996. That tour had us playing shows in Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, and all over Western Europe".
"I learned a lot about being on stage on that tour. The highlight of the tour was playing an outdoor music festival in Seoul, Korea in front of 13,000 music fans. I learned what works and what doesn't work pretty quickly with that many shows and in front of that many people; it ended up being a great classroom and proving ground for me as a lead singer."
"Since then I've played with many great musicians doing original and cover music. I have to - it's in my blood. All my life I've had a knack for showing and teaching other people how to do stuff; so when I lost my graphics design job for Martha Stewart in 2005, I decided I should work for myself and teach singing and performing to aspiring artists all over the planet. Yeah for the internet! I love passing my knowledge on to others and hearing their voices develop; I get such a thrill helping them with their music career. I never have to say "I'm going to work" because I don't consider what I do work. Its a dream job."
With this multi-layered background under his feet, Kevin definitely has something to offer other performers who simply want to be better, vocally and professionally. Of his teaching credentials Kevin says "I've learned the importance experience plays in teaching others to do what I do. There are too many so-called vocal "coaches" out there who have never proven out what they teach on the stage for any real length of time. These are people putting themselves in a position of teaching others how to perform, when they have never proven they can sing two hours a night, 3-4 times a week. I bring not only voice technique knowledge to the table, I bring years of actual styage performance experience on top of that to offer a unique perspective on live singing."