An amazing thing happened Sunday night when Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performed the nominated song Shallow from A Star Is Born and as a vocal teacher, I'm amazed that no one is talking about it.
Sure, the internet is buzzing with inuendo that there is more to their relationship than director/actor. Articles have been written about how the song was cinematically staged, the intimate final moments of the song, even how they joined hands in front of Cooper's wife Irina Shayk as they rose to take the stage.
It is widely known that Bradley Cooper is not a natural singer and that he worked very hard to create his convincing role in the movie where his character is a seasoned stage performer and recording artist. A Star Is Born wrapped up in 2017 and during his performance at The Academy Awards it was clear that not only was Cooper nervous, but that he was vocally out of shape.
Lady Gaga was there to help.
As a vocal coach, I noticed 4 separate things Lady Gaga did to help Cooper get the most out of his voice in that moment.
1) She locked eyes with him as he began the song - reminding him of the character he had created and of the relationship they had with each other in the film.
2) She nodded slightly to encourage him to project and to have confidence in his solo.
3) She held her body ramrod straight to remind him to hold his body up as good posture helps your lungs breathe deeper and your intercostal muscles to engage.
4) She placed her hand lightly on her belly with her index finger pointing directly at her navel to remind him to breathe deeply and to use his abdominal muscles to support his vocal tone.
This last point is particularly important as it was obvious that Cooper's breath was not where it needed to be in the song. He was shakey, a little pitchy and uncertain. Lady Gaga slowly and intentionally placed her hand on her abdomen and splayed her fingers, holding that position until he had finished his solo - obviously reminding him of things that he had learned previously about singing and good vocal technique.
This moment only lasted a few seconds but the vocal coach in me jumped up and down to see that even on a world stage, some of the fundamental things I work on every day in my studio were being presented for millions to see.
Bravo Lady Gaga... I was a fan before but have an even deeper respect for you as a singer and helpful vocal coach!