Are you a singer? Many people use the terms vocalist and singer interchangeably. If you're wondering if it's okay for you to do so when deciding what to call yourself or how to introduce someone, you'll be fine to use either one.
A vocalist is usually a person who uses their voice to perform music. A singer has a very similar term definition and is more commonly used than the term vocalist.
There are a couple of reasons that there can be a difference between the two terms, though, and both reasons are something to consider when trying to find out the best way to describe vocal talent.
In a time where singers and rappers often combine both talents to make songs, you may want to consider a rapper a vocalist. If you're looking for a more unique term to use when referring to a rapper who gets a little melodic here and there, they can technically be considered a vocalist to cover their skills as a rapper and a singer.
Even if a rapper isn't singing melodically, an argument can be made for the fact that a rapper still uses their voice as a way to express musical ideas rhythmically, so they are indeed a vocalist just as much as a singer is. The same can be said for a beatboxing artist as well.
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One might prefer to call themselves a vocalist instead of a singer in some situations. The connotation that comes along with the word vocalist gives it a feeling of being an advanced level of singing. Anyone can have a pleasant voice and be a singer, but you have to be really good to be considered a vocalist. A vocalist seems like a good way to explain a singer that can "saaang."
The term vocalist feels advanced because it is often used in the classical musical realm, where singers are formally trained and exposed to knowledge from voice teachers, music history professors, and music theory professors.
Singers are also often called vocalists when they have a lot of success and awards backing up their claim to talent. You would likely call a local artist a singer, while on the other hand calling a big-time singer like Jennifer Hudson a vocalist because of her powerhouse vocals and her status.
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"Vocalist" is obviously the elite term here. If you're looking to set yourself or someone else apart from other singers by calling them a vocalist, have at it! At the very least, it's a subjective term that can be used to describe any singer so that you won't be in the wrong.
You can also use introductory terms like musician, artist, performer, soloist, and songstress if it's a female. Get creative with it; there are too many singers out here in the world right now anywho.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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