Vocal health tips, stories from the tour bus, and action items to improve your voice and boost your self-confidence from an award-winning musician and life coach
Performing with David Bowie, surviving the murky depths of the music business, enduring a painful divorce, and making the first music video in outer space, award-winning recording artist Emm Gryner has navigated through life’s highs and lows using a secret compass: singing.
Her voice, and her desire to express herself in music, has been a constant: from the early days of playing in bands while growing up in a small town, to playing arena rock shows and stadiums. Across these years and on many travels, she’s discovered the human voice to be an unlikely guide, with the power to elevate and move people closer to authentic living. This book is about that discovery: part study in the art of singing, part guide to finding one’s voice, and part memoir. This book is a must-have for anyone who knows they should be singing.
About the author
Emm Gryner is a Canadian musician and vocal coach. Gryner toured in David Bowie’s band, singing and playing keyboards, and appears on the recordings Bowie at the Beeb and Glastonbury 2000. Gryner helped make the first music video in outer space and is a proud mom of two kids. She lives in St. Marys, Ontario.
Excerpt: The Healing Power of Singing: Raise Your Voice, Change Your Life (What Touring with David Bowie, Single Parenting and Ditching the Music Business Taught Me in 25 Easy Steps) (by (author) Emm Gryner)
June 25, 2000
Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset, Glastonbury U.K.
Steam rose from the mosh pit. Ecstatic faces, about a hundred thousand of them fixed their gazes upon us as we walked onto the stage. A roaring wave of cheers rose to meet us and I took my place in front of my microphone. There were people as far as my eyes could see — tens of thousands of them and all together they looked like tiny flowers on a mammoth sheet of wallpaper. As I imagined filling this huge field with my voice, he walked onstage, slowly and full of great intention, to a second wave of cheers which engulfed the night sky. Dressed in a shimmering long blazer, his hair blonde and tousled, his expression was both serious and bursting quietly with anticipation. The cheer that swept over all of us was deafening, a sound like nothing I'd ever heard. Human voices, maxed out and melted together, infused with love, euphoria and, since they’d all been waiting for him for hours, great relief. The crowd noise blasted past my in-ear monitors. He stood front and centre and the rest of us, his backing band, inhaled. We shot looks of cockiness out to the audience — the way bands do when we are about to put on some kind of unforgettable spectacle of musical heroism. But there were smiles too, and underneath it all, giddy disbelief. How did we end up here? I knew deep down that being on that stage, so high in the sky, in an idyllic corner of Britain at the turn of the millennium, was the stuff of rock ’n’ roll majesty. We were on top of the world. We were onstage with the man who had changed that world, David Bowie.
“To say I can relate to Emm Gryner’s book would be a very, very BIG understatement. As she and her musical, creative, determined heart meandered across the globe, the lessons she gleaned from singing and performing and making art seeped deeply into her day-to-day life and into her mission to become a better, stronger, more resilient human. The Healing Power of Singing is chock-full of vulnerability and coming face to face with who you are and who you want to be. Wonderful storytelling — charming and, at times, heartbreaking. Living an artist’s life is not for the faint of heart … kind of like being a parent. I highly recommend this book, whether you’re a musician or a plumber!” — Jann Arden
“As a singer, I know it is not a question of if I will lose my voice, but when. Everything Emm offers in her warm, wonderful, and wise book will help any artist find, strengthen, and reconnect to the greatest instrument in the world: the voice.” — Sara Quin, Tegan and Sara
“What a delight to read a book about the joys and therapeutic wonders of singing from an extraordinary woman with a remarkable lived experience. I know many singers who would benefit from the sage advice in this book — because it’s not just about perfecting one’s performance but ultimately about fully embracing life.” — Denise Donlon, Media Executive
“The path to musical virtuosity and celebrity can be a rocky road to the church of ‘ME.’ Emm Gryner could easily have lost herself down that track. She is hugely talented, creative, charismatic, and driven. She is everything that a ‘star’ should be. But she is also a natural teacher, sharer, giver. Giving and sharing what she has learned and experienced has proven far more rewarding to Emm than stardom. That’s why this book is important. It is an honest, funny, candid, and enriching life lesson about what really matters: the joy that lies in finding and using your hidden talents to enhance your life. Emm Gryner is an inspiration: read the book and be inspired.” — Neville Farmer, author of XTC: Song Story
“Emm Gryner invites the reader to reflect on the power of voice and the role it can play as one navigates life. With a focus on women. Gryner provides 25 points of wisdom within the framework of voice as one journeys toward a healthier lifestyle. Within this framework, Gryner narrates her life with insights to vulnerabilities experienced, opportunities and challenges embraced, and reflections on lessons learned. Her honesty, laced with humour and threaded with support from various experts, allows for the reader to imagine the possibilities we have with our voice — including to sing. The reader will find this retrospective and the offerings a most welcoming and refreshing read.” — Betty Anne Younker, Dean, Professor of Music Education, Don Wright Faculty of Music, Western University