Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/vibrato


Sometimes you hear singer using vibrato in certain song. I think Leaving on a jet plane by John Denver. He sings with a vibrato and I'm confused. Is this something he tried to do or did it just happen? It seems like he had a problem cause he overused the vibrato. Dolly Parton is another vibrato example. Do certain singers just get the vibrato without even wanting it?

Some people have it and don't know why, other people don't have it, but it can be developed.  John Denver did not have a strong vibrato, Tom Jones has a strong vibrato.  Dolly Parton's vibrato is very natural to her and well modulated, not overdone.  There are two different kinds of vibrato, one is generated by the diaphragm and one is generated in the throat.

Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting

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Penny Nichols


I can answer all kinds of questions regarding singing techniques, practice, performance, vocal recording technique and harmony vocal arranging.


I have been a professional singer/songwriter and vocal arranger and teacher in the music business since 1965.

BMI, Folk Alliance, SummerSongs, Inc. (I am the founding director)

Singer Magazine

I have a doctorate in Music Education from Harvard.

Awards and Honors
Platinum record for my vocals on Jimmy Buffett's Son of a Son of a Sailor, 3 times nominated for a Grammy in the background singing category, MVP in the motivational singing category of the Assoc. of Multi-image Assoc. Annual awards two years in a row.

Past/Present Clients
I have sung with, recorded with or opened shows for Mort Sahl, The Byrds, The Dillards, Dillard and Clark Expedition, John Kay (Steppenwolf), The Association and Big Brother and the Holding Co. (Janis Joplin), Steve Miller, Quicksilver Messenger Service, 13th Floor Elevator, Chocolate Watchband, Jefferson Airplane, Dan Hicks & his Hot Licks, Cream (the Santa Monica Civic auditorium 1968), Little Feat in concert.  I wrote and performed commercials for Toyota's campaign to plant a tree for every car bought, Carnation Dairies, and produced a public service announcement for the Navajo Nation called "Black Mesa" to protest the misuse of the land around the Four Corners power stations in Arizona. In 1977, while working with Emitt Rhodes on a record for Elektra, I joined Jimmy Buffett & the Coral Reefers.  I appeared in the movie FM with the band, toured the U.S. and earned a Platinum Record for my singing on Son of a Son of a Sailor. Also, I've recorded with Art Garfunkle (Fate for Breakfast) Suzi Quatro, Danny O'Keefe, Yvonne Elliman, Jennifer Warnes, Albert Brooks, The Credibility Gap, Steve Gillette and earned a Grammy nomination for my work on Arlo Guthrie's album The Power of Love.  In addition, I have recorded a series of singing lessons which have been sold world-wide by Homespun Tapes since 1985.

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