When you sing popular contemporary songs in performance—whether it's a concert, a wedding band, a studio recording, or a commercial gig—it's about you. What you bring to it. Your energy. Your style. Your smile. How you interact with the audience and make them feel welcome. You're not a character in a musical here: you're you. Your own musical persona. Your voice.
That can feel scary! It can also be liberating. What do you want to say? What is your intention with your choice of songs? What do you hope your audience will experience with you? When you have a clear answer to these questions, the audience will get so much more from your performing.
Your voice is unique, and that is one thing that's beautiful about the multi-faceted human voice. When you perform a cover song that was first made popular by a known artist, you're not trying to recreate the exact singing of that artist. We've already heard that version and even put it into our playlist. Instead, how you sing it is what makes it fresh and re-imagined. This is what is interesting. This is what is engaging.
So when you're planning the next song to learn, choose a song you really want to share with people. It's great that you can sing a hard song, master a belt, do sweet riffs. Sure it's great when your range is big and you can sing whistle tones. But these things alone don't make a great singer. It's the heart. Your commitment to your audience. Your integrity. Your authenticity—you showing up as you.