I was at a party this weekend where most of the people were working musicians. We all took turns fronting our favourite songs and singing back up for each other. It was such a blast to see how the vibe of the party shifted and changed with each new performer getting up to “do their thing” as the styles of music ranged from classic rock to pop, reggae, folk and jazz. In spite of not knowing some of the songs that were being performed, the band was able to adjust and follow along easily provided the singer was confident in what they were singing. The only times it didn’t work well was when the singer was counting on following instead of leading the band.
As a lead vocalist, it is up to you to know the song well so you can carry it. Waiting for your music and being unsure of your entrances will cause the song to lag and the energy will fall flat; you need to set the pace and energy of the piece. Actually, a strong singer really doesn’t need any music at all and is fully confident singing a capella.
Next time you are singing lead, decide in advance that the band is following you, not the other way around. You will be surprised at what a difference it will make in the feel and energy of your song.