Vocal Mastery 2015

Anyone willing to pick up a microphone can call themselves a singer these days. Many up-and-coming artists can even belt out a great tune or two. But few have truly mastered their instrument – that is, their own voice. Shure decided to change that in 2015 by offering singers from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa a chance to win a vocals masterclass and professional recording session in London.

Teaming up with the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) and Metropolis Studios, Shure also threw in €1,000 worth of equipment for five lucky winners. To enter our Vocal Mastery competition, contestants simply had to upload a video of them singing their own song. But to ensure the hopefuls could give it their very best, ACM and Shure offered a series of online video tutorials covering topics like voice warm-ups, how to record vocals and performance tips.

All entries garnering more than 300 plays on SoundCloud were eligible for the top 20 shortlist and the singer receiving the most ‘likes’ qualified for a wildcard spot. With such a diverse pool of talent, a jury comprised of ACA vocal coaches Erika Footman and Jono McNeil and professional talent scout Konrad Birnbauer had the difficult job of picking the final five.

“It’s really fun for me to use my skills to help these new artists get the best from their abilities,” said Footman, who has toured with music acts like Skunk Anasie and Mika.

In the end, the grand prize went to two singers from the UK (Lauren Ackie and Christina Rotondo), as well as one artist from Denmark (Sherpa), Italy (Maki Flow) and South Africa (Sabelo Mthembu).

Whereas Maki Flow’s winning entry “The Clock” was a passionate down-tempo number accompanied only by piano, Sherpa made the grade with “Broken,” a piece of driven electronically tinged pop. The Copenhagen-based artist said the masterclass at the Academy of Contemporary Music offered insights that he could immediate use to improve his singing.

“Jono McNeil showed me some exercises, some ways to get that falsetto out, which was really great,” Sherpa said.

Lauren Ackie won over the jury with her modern R&B interpretation “Rain,” as did Christina Rotondo with the slow-building rock ballad “Holy.” And Sabelo Mthembu tapped his choir experience to give “Counting on Time” that special something.

“ACM was an amazing experience for me,” said Mthembu during his London visit. “Just to be in the same room with some of the world’s greatest vocal coaches – that was a life-changing opportunity for me. I learned so much.”

The five winners are now taking their singing to the next level. But the Vocal Mastery tutorials are still online to help aspiring artists everywhere as they reach for the mic – and the sweet sound of success.

Shortlisted participants of Vocal Mastery 2015