by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
I’ve been a singer since I could breathe, from belting out carols to serenading friends at sleep away camp with Debbie Gibson songs (not always to their liking!).
But when I started playing guitar and singing, I suddenly felt self conscious about how “good” my voice was and what it should sound like — It wasn’t airy and delicate like Tonya Donnelly’s nor angelic like Dolores O’Riordan’s or ferociously powerful like Courtney Love’s. It wasn’t until I encountered the brilliant Liz Phair in 1997 that I realized that a singer could have an average, simply pretty (but unremarkable) voice and still create music that is powerful and life changing.
Today, I still feel like my songs are funny and my voice is fair, but, age aside, I’d never win The Voice or America’s Got Talent. Unless, of course, I happen to play a show at a club with an amazing sound system. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Most microphones and PAs are average, not exceptional.
But last summer, when I played a gig with local band Catalina Shortwave, something happened: Launching into my first song, “Hungry,” I sounded like a Goddess! I asked Dave, the band’s front person with a Zeus-like presence and vocals to match, what he used. He recommended several different vocal mics, and the two that stuck out were the Carvin and Sennheiser.
I let this information sit for a month or two. Then in September, I started jamming with a woman in my town who wanted someone else to be the lead singer (a first — most girls secretly want to lead-sing). I wasn’t sure I was up for the task, but after my first two notes of Joan Jett into her Carvin, I was astounded at how amazing I sounded!
Finally, I decided that the only way to move forward was to do something I should have done a long time ago: Buy my own vocal mic. One trip to Guitar Center and about $100 later, I became the proud owner of the Sennheiser e835 Live Vocal Microphone. And boy, is she a beauty!
I can’t believe how gorgeous I sound now, as I listen to live recordings like the one in this video. So, so clear. My voice is confident, clear, gorgeous. I’ll never be Adele or even Sia, but with the right microphone I am a mother freaking SIREN!!
I can’t believe it’s taken me so damn long to get one! All these years. Now all I need to do is summon the enthusiasm (and the cash) to secure my own PA system, so I can have a consistently great singing experience regardless of what kind of system a club possesses. But I’m too busy feeling like a Goddess onstage to find the time.
— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.