Singing is one of the most accessible forms of entertainment. No one is excluded from practicing it based on age, gender, social class, or level of education. Susan Boyle, winner of Britain's Got Talent in 2009, broadened the possibility for any person to become famous by singing. People who evaluate new talent need to follow an established criteria for judging vocalists.
Judges of singing contests must listen to the singer display a wide range of vocal tones. Songs that win contests are not monotone chants. They must vary from low to medium to high notes. The highest notes must be articulated without strain or cracking in the voice. The low notes should also contain power and clarity.
Each singer has a texture to their voice. Some singers have a soft and gentle sound. Others deliver the song with gravely and hoarse sound. The style of the song can require either kind of voice. Celine Dione and James Blunt represent the soft style. Janis Joplin and Bruce Springsteen or Bryan Adams deliver the gutsy sound. All are excellent in their style.
Singers need to connect their mind and emotions when telling the story of the song. This personalized ownership of the meaning of the song is the subtext. The deeper meaning that the artist conveys in their own interpretation of the lyrics comes through to the audience and is felt and believed.
Singers need to communicate non-verbally as well as vocally with the audience. They need to use eye contact, hand movements, and walk around the stage. The stage is the platform where singers physically perform songs. A singer's use of the space must add to and not distract from the meaning of the words she sings.
Applause is an obvious form of audience appreciation of the performance. Singing along with the performer during the song is just as convincing. Judges should watch the public during the performance and see if their eyes and ears are connecting with the singer. Crying sometimes speaks louder than clapping when a singer has connected emotionally with the audience.
Stephen Saylor is a bilingual educator and translator who has been writing since 2005. He has contributed articles to websites such as rockeros.net and XtremeMusic. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts in education from San Diego State University.