Gabrielle Goodman is a professor in the Voice department at Berklee College of Music. Well-versed in jazz, R&B, classical, and gospel, Gabrielle has performed with Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, Nancy Wilson, and Roberta Flack, who calls Goodman “one of the finest singers around today.” Her 1993 release Travelin’ Light brought her international acclaim.
At Berklee Online, Gabrielle authored and instructs the R&B Vocals course. She wrote the course with the late Jeff Ramsey.
What is your vocal range?
My vocal range is three octaves.
Are there specific notes or intervals that you feel best about singing?
I absolutely love singing octaves, flipping from my chest voice/head voice and singing octaves in general in pure head voice in the upper register or pure chest voice.
Who is a singer whose vocal qualities you most admire? Why?
I admire many singers for different reasons:
- I love the power of Aretha Franklin’s voice, her ability to belt and her soulful improvisational lines.
- The fluidity of Karen Clark Sheard’s voice and her ability to riffs.
- I love the lightness of Minnie Riperton’s voice and her incredible five-octave range. Studying her made me want to sing and take formal vocal technique.
- Mariah Carey is also one of my favorite R&B artists because she is a combination of all of the singers I just listed.
- I adore Chaka Khan’s powerful sound and her soulful approach and I feel blessed to have worked with her as a singer and writer.
Is there a song that made you want to become a singer?
Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You” made me want to sing and have a career as a recording and performing artist. I am blessed and happy to have recorded “Loving You” on Capitol Records with Norman Connors when I was in my twenties. It was my first national recording on a major label.
What are a few song passages with real stand-out vocal moments in your opinion?
The following three really stand out for me.
Chaka Khan’s opening lines on “Once You Get Started.”
Tori Kelly’s vocal lines on the break of “Don’t You Worry Bout’ a Thing.”
And Brian McKnight’s modulation on “Back at One.”
What are your top vocal health tips?
I have two vocal health tips:
1. Always hydrate. Drink lots of water to lubricate the vocal folds. This promotes vocal health and elasticity.
2. Be sure to warm up for 10 minutes before your performances.
What is your favorite vocal decoration to use?
My favorite embellishment is the mordent. Stevie Wonder and Brian McKnight use it and you also hear it in Eastern and classical music.
What advice do you have for overcoming performance anxiety?
It’s best to thoroughly know your music and meditate even if for a short period to eliminate anxiety. I also like to pray before performances. You may choose meditation, prayer or both. However, the more prepared you are with song memorization and rehearsing, the better your show will be. It also helps to surround yourself with positive, supportive people.