By Brian Caples
Even the best singers need a little coaching from time to time, and that’s where Traci De Leon comes in. Traci has been offering her services as a vocal coach to professional singers and recording artists since 1997, and is widely considered one of the leading contemporary singing specialists in the U.S.
Traci’s private studio in Fairfield, California is frequented by singers of all genres, all of whom come to experience her unique and customized approach to teaching. On top of this, Traci also offers online lessons for her long distance students.
Her debut album, Flight Risk, tiptoes the line between country and pop, with powerful lyrical themes that can be applicable to nearly everyone’s lives. Within seconds of listening, it’s easy to see where her classical vocal training and contemporary styling intersect.
Visit her website at www.tracideleonmusic.com
The WiMN: Let’s start off by going back to your childhood. What role did music have in your life growing up? Who were the artists that made you want to pursue a career in music?
TDL: Music was what made me feel alive for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories were of Cajun Zydeco music playing on my parent’s console stereo, and artists like Queen, Linda Ronstadt and Glen Campbell are some of my earliest favorites. I’d stand on the piano bench, aim a lamp at my makeshift stage, and give “concerts” for anyone who’d listen. It was later in my high school years when Whitney Houston hit the scene that I craved a career in singing and songwriting.
The WiMN: You’ve owned your own vocal studio for over 20 years now. Can you briefly discuss some of the services you provide for your students?
TDL: Since 1997 I’ve taught private vocal and songwriting lessons to singers with diverse artistic goals and paths. The core of what I teach is a true understanding of how the voice works; the human voice is extremely versatile, and my job is to help students explore the possibilities of their own singing voices. I also focus on song interpretation, stage movement, microphone technique and studio recording techniques for vocalists.
As a singer-songwriter who has maintained a strong presence in the music industry, I offer a comfortable, organized approach to writing and arranging songs as well as insight into today’s music business.
The WiMN: You’ve coached singers that have gone on to perform on shows like American Idol, X Factor, and America’s Got Talent, just to name a few. What’s it like to see your students perform on that grand of a stage?
TDL: In a way I feel like a mother to each and every one of them – the pride, the nerves, the hope and excitement are all so intense! The audition process requires so much preparation, mentally and physically. I’m honored to have been a part of that process, urging them to open up and be fearless, and pushing them outside of their comfort zone in preparation for the spotlight.
The WiMN: How do you feel your experience as a vocal coach has impacted your performance as a singer-songwriter?
TDL: There’ve been countless times during my teaching career when I’ve been inspired by my students’ talent. They keep me on my toes to stay current and relevant in my writing. My own advice comes swirling back to me while I’m in my own creative process, which is a cool way to grow as a teacher – actually putting those words of wisdom to the test!
The WiMN: Your song “Ok Again” is a wonderful anthem about helping someone through their darkest times. Is there any connection between the lyrics to that song and your desire to help your students succeed?
TDL: Thank you, “Ok Again” is very dear to my heart, and was written in support of caregivers who care for chronically ill loved ones. When I wrote it, I wanted to give them their voice; help them express their compassion and recognize their selflessness. I love the idea of relating it back to my teaching, because I am truly invested in their success. If growing their talent is what they desire, I am 100% devoted to helping any way I can.
The WiMN: Have you seen an increase in opportunities for women in this industry in recent years?
TDL: I think so, it’s encouraging to see more women emerging in diverse roles in the industry. We are nowhere near close enough to gender equality in the entertainment business, but step by step and day by day, women are making great strides. We as women creatives and business people need to recognize and lift one another up as much as possible, so that our valuable skills and work will no longer be dismissed or discounted.
The WiMN: Do you have any advice for women looking to pursue or advance their career in music?
TDL: I advise women who want a career in music to educate themselves in every single aspect of the business. Learn about the less glamorous administrative, behind the scenes aspect of the industry. Learn more than one instrument, continue to educate yourself by learning something new every day and practicing what you already know. Network with people who can guide you and mentor you. Become tech savvy when it comes to production and marketing. Be your own best advocate, accept the fact that success requires 100% dedication, and never give up!
The WiMN: Finally, what’s in store for the rest of the year?
TDL: I’m working hard to produce a showcase in November as a performance opportunity for my singers. I will be traveling across the country to teach vocal workshops and masterclasses. In the meantime, I continue to write, co-write and record original music and look forward to releasing new music in Spring of 2020.