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One of The Wives, the backing vocalists for English singer Ebony Bones

A backing vocalist or backing singer (or, especially in the U.S. and Canada, backup singer or sometimes background singer or harmony vocalist) is a singer who provides vocal harmony with the lead vocalist or other backing vocalists. In some cases, a backing singer may sing alone as a lead-in to the main vocalist's entry or a counter-melody.

Solo artists may employ professional backing vocalists in studio recording sessions as well as during concerts and other live performance routines. In many rock and metal bands (e.g., the power trio), the musicians doing backup vocals also play instruments, such as guitar, electric bass, drums, or keyboards. In Latin or Afro-Cuban groups, backup singers may play percussion instruments or shakers while singing. In some pop and hip-hop groups and in musical theater, the backup singers may be required to perform elaborately-choreographed dance routines while they sing through headset microphones.

While some bands use performers whose sole on-stage role is performing backing vocals, it is common for backup singers to have other roles. Two notable examples of band members who sang back-up are The Beach Boys and The Beatles. The Beach Boys were well known for their close vocal harmonies, occasionally with all five members singing at once such as "In My Room" and "Surfer Girl". All five members would sing lead, although most often Brian Wilson or Mike Love would sing lead with guitarists Carl Wilson and Al Jardine and drummer Dennis Wilson singing background harmonies. The Beatles were also known for their close style of vocal harmonies[opinion] - it should also be noted that all Beatles members sang both lead and backup vocals at some point, especially John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who frequently supported each other with harmonies, often with fellow Beatle George Harrison joining in. Ringo Starr, while not as prominent in the role of backup singer as his three bandmates, can be heard singing backing vocals in such tracks as "Hello, Goodbye" and "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill". Examples of three-part harmonies by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison include "Nowhere Man", "Because", "Day Tripper", and "This Boy" The members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Bee Gees all each wrote songs and sang back-up or lead vocals and played various instruments on their albums and various collaborations with each other.

Former guitarist John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers sang all backing vocals (few songs were recorded without backing vocals) often singing some parts without accompaniment from lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis. Frusciante usually sang a song by himself during concerts. Another example is "No Frontiers" by The Corrs, which is sung by Sharon and Caroline. Other backing vocalists include Sebastien Lefebvre (rhythm guitarist at the same time) and David Desrosiers ( Bass guitarist, also at the same time ) for pop /punk band Simple Plan, John Petrucci, Per Wilberg and guitarists Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates of heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold.

Lead singers who record backup vocals[edit]

In the recording studio, some lead singers record their own backing vocals by overdubbing, because the sound of their own harmonies will blend well with their main vocal. Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Wednesday 13, in his own band, and as the lead and backing vocalist of Murderdolls, also Ian Gillan of Deep Purple and Brad Delp of Boston recorded lead and backing vocals for their albums.

With the exception of a few songs on each album, Dan Fogelberg, Eddie Rabbitt, David Bowie and Richard Marx sing all of the background vocals for their songs. Robert Smith of The Cure not only sings his own backing vocals in the studio, but also doesn't perform with backing vocalists when playing live.

Many metalcore and some post-hardcore bands, such as As I Lay Dying, Alexisonfire, Haste the Day and Silverstein feature a main vocalist who performs using harsh vocals, whilst the backing vocalist sings harmonies (clean vocals) during choruses to create a contrast. Some bands, such as Hawthorne Heights and Finch have the backup singers do harsh vocals to highlight specific lyrics.

Pop and R&B vocalists such as Diana Ross, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Beyoncé Knowles, Brandy, Faith Evans, D'Angelo, Mary J Blige and Amerie have become known specifically for not only recording their own backing vocals, but for arranging their own multi-tracked vocals and even contriving highly complex harmonies and arrangements. When they perform live, they may have backing vocalists that impersonate their voices.

Unusual backing vocal styles[edit]

Some bands use backing vocals in order to contrast with the lead singer who may be performing an unusual vocal technique. For example, Brian "Head" Welch, the lead guitarist of the band Korn, performed backing vocals on several songs, and notably on the song "Ball Tongue", he screams the chorus while lead vocalist Jonathan Davis sings incomprehensible scat vocals. Similarly, the Canadian deathcore group Despised Icon uses two vocalists, one performing screams and another performing low, growling death grunts who alternate, and sometimes sing in unison to highlight certain lyrics. In rap music, a background rapper who chants and rhymes to support the main artist is often referred to as hype man.

Career paths[edit]

Working as a backup singer can give a vocalist the onstage experience and vocal training they need to develop into a lead vocalist. A number of lead vocalists such as Ace Frehley, Richard Marx, Mariah Carey, Cher, Gwen Stefani, Pink, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Sheryl Crow, Trisha Yearwood, Dave Grohl, Jerry Only, Jerry Cantrell, Jason Newsted, and Elton John, learned their craft as backup singers, or singing backup vocals as part of a choir.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backing_vocalist — Please support Wikipedia.
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The Role of A Backing Vocalist/Singer with Denosh Bennett

http://www.shedlightevents.com: Professional singer, Denosh Bennett, discusses what the role of a backing vocalist/singer is. She should know she's sung behi...

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Violinist/Celllist Christine Wu backs singer Kandace Lindsay in a live performance cover of The Police's Roxanne. March 13, 2013 at the WitZend in Venice, CA.

Denosh Bennett (Robbie Williams backing vocalist of Robbie Williams) singing Empire State of Mind.

(intro to New York, New York) 5th of May 2014, Ziggodome Amsterdam. Robbie Williams Swings Both Ways Live.

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Guitar Backing Track to jam to. This was originally uploaded by VincentVega124 but I fixed the intro and added the guitar riff during the solo. VincentVega12...



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104 news items

Idolator: All About The Music

Idolator: All About The Music
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 14:41:34 -0700

Beyonce came under fire from some commentators for wearing a revealing “ass-less” leotard in her blockbuster On The Run tour. As usual, the game-changing diva kept her silence but one of her backing vocalists did the talking for her. Tiffany Monique ...


Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:48:45 -0700

HELLION have announced that Georg Dolivo, vocalist for RHINO BUCKET, will join HELLION as rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist on their upcoming North American tour in support of their new album Karma's A Bitch. “I am excited to be a part of what the ...
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 01:17:09 -0700

Delano has been given tickets to give away to see St. Louis singer-songwriter Angel Olsen, whose eclectic music includes classic singer-songwriter material, like the beautifully haunting 'White Fire' (harking back to her time as a backing vocalist for ...

The Voice Online

The Voice Online
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 09:52:30 -0700

... 'electronic soul diva', ShezAr - who lists Chaka Khan, Adele and collaborator Wretch 32 as some of her musial influences - has spent years in the music industry acting in the capacity of a vocal coach, session singer and backing vocalist for some ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 22:27:09 -0700

“I was a backing vocalist. I remember being in the choir for Sarah De Bono on series one of The Voice and thinking I'd love to do that one day.” “Winning this competition doesn't mean that I've made it. It's a great leap in the right direction but it ...
The National
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 03:17:49 -0700

The Indian playback singer will be joined by a 12-piece dance troupe and the backing vocalist Hrishikesh Ranade for a three-hour, hit-laden Bollywood concert. Renowned for her singing in multiple languages, Goshal will offer something for all with ...
The Swazi Observer
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 00:18:45 -0700

Fakazi is married to his lovely wife, Thobile Simelane, who has supported him in this music project, not only as a spouse but also as a backing vocalist. He says having her for a wife is such a great blessing as she is always there for him. He also ...
Washington Post
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:22:30 -0700

Seymali launched her own career at age 13, becoming a backing vocalist for her stepmother, Dimi Mint Abba, a celebrated musician. The clan is so well known that, if you refer to Seymali's name in Mauritania, “it's like if you say 'Michael Jackson' in ...

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