Celebrity Vocal Coach Jeannie Deva Helps Singers Worldwide with Her New Online School
Since introducing the world to her innovative Deva Method of vocal training in the mid-'70s, Jeannie Deva has become one of the most respected in-demand vocal coaches, recording studio vocal producers, trainer of voice teachers, author and TV reality show audition judge. During the nearly four decades of her teaching career she has always used the existing technologies to reach an ever growing sphere of singers - starting with her first book, The Introduction to The Deva Method to the recent launch of her ArtistWorks Online Vocal School, where she works one-on-one with a worldwide community of students through Video Exchange™.
Her client list includes numerous Grammy Award winners (such as Aimee Mann, Patty Griffin), American Idol finalists, Felecia Howes of the multi-platinum Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, South American Superstar Ruddy Rodriguez, plus lead performers in Broadway’s Wicked, Rent, The Lion King and Grease. Deva has also been the vocal coach for members of the rock bands J. Geils Band and Foghat, and backup singers for superstars Celine Dion, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder and Janet Jackson.
The last fourteen months have been a world wind of activity for Jeannie beginning with the January 2012 publication of her eBook, Singer’s Guide to Powerful Performances. She spent the spring of 2012 preparing and filming the hundreds of videos that would become the curriculum of her new ArtistWorks Online Vocal School, which launched in November of that year. In February 2013, Jeannie was selected to be a judge for the Los Angeles auditions of “La Voz Kids,” the new reality show modeled on “The Voice” and soon to air on Telemundo TV.
In addition to being the author of The Contemporary Vocalist book and CD series, The Deva Method Vocal Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs CD and the innovative Riffs Runs and Embellishments exercise CD, Deva has penned over 400 published articles and is the founder of the Jeannie Deva® Voice Studios International Network. In the fall of 2006, she appeared on E! Entertainment television as the vocal coach for the reality show House of Carters, starring Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. Also, Deva has worked recently with singer/actress Lynda Carter, and helped prepare male singer Kuba Ka for signing with Michael Jackson’s former manager Frank DiLeo now preparing him for his new Las Vegas show Kuba Kingdom.
Among her educational accolades, Deva assisted in establishing the voice department at Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music (her alma mater) and is currently on the elite voice instructor council of TC-Helicon Vocal Technologies. Deva has received endorsements from recording engineers who have worked with the Rolling Stones, the Cars, Elton John, Amy Winehouse and Aerosmith, and she has appeared as a celebrity vocal coach on the TV Guide Channel’s Idol Chat, among numerous other TV and radio shows. She is also featured in the video “The Vocalist’s Guide To Fitness, Health and Musicianship,” by internationally respected music educator Julie Lyonn Lieberman and distributed by Hal Leonard.
Music and the creative arts were something of a birthright for Deva, who grew up just outside of New York City. She fondly describes her parents—her mother was her first drama teacher, her father an award-winning short story writer & sculptor—as beatniks; at age three, her first music teacher was her grandmother, a concert pianist and Arthur Rubinstein’s rehearsal pianist for his Masterwork Chorus in which her grandfather sang. Deva began performing at age 12 and came of age in the vibrant New York folk blues scene of the late '60s, when artists like Dave Van Ronk, Bonnie Raitt and Bob Dylan reigned. As she became a part of what she calls the “big freedom movement,” her tastes ranged into rock and experimental jazz. She gravitated out West for a time, joining an international dance troupe in San Francisco and becoming part of several theater companies.
Lynda Carter and Jeannie Deva.
“By 1970, I realized I didn’t know everything I needed to know about singing,” Deva says. “Though I had already been singing and performing for many years, I wanted to grow as a professional and perfect my craft, so I took lessons with major voice coaches in New York and Boston. But I only felt more confused and tied down, not freed up. That frustration set the stage for me to start doing my own research on the human voice. I realized that our bodies are designed to make sound—so why should vocal training be so confusing? Why should one teacher contradict another?'
"I began studying science journals and went on the laborious but rewarding path of stripping down to basics and learning how the body works with the voice. Understanding the voice from a physiological standpoint was enlightening compared to everything I had heard about how I should sing. Applying my own experiences to this research, figuring out what would mess up my voice and what would help it, I eventually developed the core of what became The Deva Method. Along the way, my range expanded from one and a half to four octaves, my tone and flexibility improved vastly, and I found I could sing at any hour of the day and for hours on end without vocal blow-out or fatigue.”
The Deva Method is an effective, comprehensive non-classical approach for singers that gives you an understanding of your voice and puts you in control. This method was developed from the premise that the body has a natural voice production process and if singers understand and work with it, they can sing any style without hurting themselves. It is a natural approach based upon similar principles to those athletes use to train and improve their skills. A gymnast, for instance, would never think to compete without adequate warm-up and muscle training. Yet singers, who are vocal athletes, are always trying to sing without adequate preparation and muscle development. Deva has found that if singers try to use muscles that aren’t developed for the task, they may injure them – and will certainly not achieve control and stamina. With this system of voice training, singers warm up and train their vocal muscles to perform easily and well, responding to their passion and style. This frees them to give peak performances that capture the attention and hearts of their audiences.
“The Deva Method takes away the guesswork, makes singing simple and opens new doors of expression,” Deva says, “allowing the singer to raise the bar on not only their professionalism but also their individuality and uniqueness.”
The success of The Deva Method has been widely recognized, with many thousands of singers around the world having received this training by Deva herself or one of her expanding network of certified Deva Method teachers. She has also created tools and techniques to improve vocals quickly and efficiently for recording projects and live performances. She is an expert in assisting a singer with virtually anything needed to prepare for a recording project, such as: correction of vocal difficulties; song development; harmony and backup blending and arrangement; recording studio performance techniques to achieve captivating vocals on track; vocal strengthening; and accent reduction, which she uses to help numerous top Russian, Italian, Spanish, Filipino, Asian and Ukrainian singers who record English language albums.
Jeannie Deva with Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors.
Earning a degree in music composition and arranging in 1975 from Berklee, Deva later became the school’s Alumni President for 10 years. By 1978, she had founded her first school of voice, The Voice Studio™, in Boston and was teaching the majority of the local national and international acts. By 1988, she had created a training program to certify voice teachers in her method and by the early '90s her studio was servicing up to 100 singers a week and boasted a teaching staff of nine certified Deva Method voice teachers. In 2002, with the Boston school still going strong, Deva moved to Los Angeles (initially to meet the increasing demand of clients in the music, film and TV business on the West Coast) and established her own private Jeannie Deva Voice Studio. At that time, a new corporate model was developed, and all teachers became licensed to open their own independently owned and operated Deva Method Voice Studios.
Aside from being a top vocal teacher, Deva is an acclaimed vocalist in her own right. Legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea says of her, “What a great voice!” Robert Holmes of til Tuesday echoes, “A uniquely new, incredibly versatile voice.” And The Harvard Crimson newspaper once wrote: “Her great theatrical and emotional control has reaped remarkable results - Virtuoso!” Since her early days opening for Richie Havens with Janis Ian in Greenwich Village, she has become an internationally recognized singer who has shared billing with performers such as Dave Van Ronk and David Pomeranz; and sung with Maxine Nightingale, Italian Pop star Elena Rogerro, James Montgomery Blues Band, Gail Moran Corea, David Bromberg, percussionist Hossam Ramsey (Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant), multi platinum artists David Campbell, Raven Kane, and blues great Johnny Shines. Deva has also headlined concerts in the U.S., South America and Europe. In 2008 she was selected to perform at the Los Angeles - Mexico City simulcast of the “El Grito” concert for an audience of over 100,000. More recently, she performed two shows in Nashville, one of which she co-headlined with Pomeranz.
“I can take a singer from any level or style and help them have complete confidence in what they’re doing, help them launch their career or put them on a completely new level of vocal performance dynamic,” Deva says. “After all these years, I still enjoy the excitement of helping ignite and participate in the process as each vocalist I work with has their ‘a ha’ moments and suddenly finds greater freedom, power of expression and ease of singing. And I really love performing. Those who teach but don’t stay current with their own voice and performance skills are limiting themselves to how they can best identify with their students today.”
For more information on Jeannie Deva, her effective vocal method, studio locations, workshops or products, please visit www.JeannieDeva.com.
Jonathan Widran is a free-lance music/entertainment journalist who contributes regularly to Music Connection, Jazziz and All Music Guide. He can be reached at Few522@aol.com.