This week’s guest is Jeannette LoVetri.

Jeannette LoVetri is one of the most recognized and highly acclaimed voice teachers around the world. This is part one of a two-part interview round with Jeanie. In this episode, we have the honour of learning more about Jeanie and the journey which led her to a remarkable performance and teaching career, but most importantly, what inspired her to create the term Contemporary Commercial Music in 2000. CCM as we know it is now widely used in academia, science and research. Jeanie talks about those who inspired and influenced her learning of all things connected with the singing voice, and how she constructed her pedagogical approaches, which ultimately led her to develop, Somatic Voicework™, Jeanie’s trademarked method which she created in 2002, and is now taught at Baldwin Wallace University every summer.

Jeannette is a trailblazer and continues to work hard to instigate changes in the way CCM is perceived within the singing voice community and what I learned is that Jeanie’s success, has come about from her remarkable resilience, and curiosity for learning and sheer tenacity. I absolutely loved hanging out with Jeanie as she shared her stories, her struggles and her triumphs. I’m sure you are going to love listening to this episode and don’t forget this is part one of my interview with Jeanie and in next week’s episode, we will release part II.

In this episode
03:32 — Introducing Jeannette LoVetri
10:33 — Growing up in a musical family
14:11 — Getting into Manhattan School of Music
19:00 — Exposure to Broadway professionals
21:09 — Classical Training experience
24:13 — Realizing her voice didn’t fit the mould
26:21 — The Voice Foundation at Juilliard School
29:16 — Attending the symposium for 10 years
33:44 — Writing a Complaint Letter to the Voice Foundation
34:55 — Doing research with Dr. Silver
43:05 — Putting electrodes and experimenting with her vocal cords
46:16 — Officially introducing the term CCM in a forum in 2000
48:23 — What really is Contemporary Commercial Music?

Summer Institute: https://bwcommunityarts.bw.edu/teacher-education/lovetri-institute/

Link to the free webinars: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0rf-mqqT4rGtH5shlPPzKlFluKmcdfzATZ

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NEW CCM BOOK

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith is excited to announce the release of her new book “Singing Contemporary Commercial Music Styles: A Pedagogical Framework” published by Compton Publications UK. Marisa offers this book as a starting point and as CCM markets continue to evolve, she encourages that we, as a voice community, continue to evolve, debate and communally add to this framework.

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YOUTUBE PLAYBACK

Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

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Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:00

Hi it’s Marisa Lee here, and I’m so excited to be sharing today’s interview round episode with you. In these episodes, our brilliant lineup of guests will include health care practitioners, voice educators, and other professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialized fields to empower you to live your best life. Whether you’re a member of the voice, community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. It’s time now to share your gift with others develop a positive mindset and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, it’s time for you to live your best life. It’s time now for a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:16

I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest, Jeannette LoVetri, who is one of the most recognized and highly acclaimed voice teachers around the world. This is part one of a two part interview round with Jeanne. In this episode, we have the honour of learning more about Jeanne and the journey which led her to her remarkable performance and teaching career. But most importantly, what inspired her to create the term contemporary commercial music in 2000. CCM as we know it is now widely used in academia, science and research. Jeanne talks about those who inspired and influenced her learning of all things connected with the singing voice and how she constructed her pedagogical approaches, which ultimately led her to develop somatic voice work Jeanne’s trademarked method which she created in 2002 and is now taught at Baldwin Wallace University every summer. Jeanne is a true trailblazer and continues to work hard to instigate changes in the way CCM is viewed within the singing voice community. And what I learned is that Jeanne success has come about from her resilience, curiosity for learning and sheer tenacity. I absolutely loved hanging out with Jeanne as she shared her stories, her struggles, and her triumphs. I’m sure you’re going to love listening to this show. And don’t forget, this is part one of my interview with Jeannie and in next week’s episode, we will release part two. This is a not to be missed show. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:32

Well, today we are in for such a treat. Welcome to the show, Jeannette LoVetri. You are an absolutely remarkable human being you are a trailblazer. You are a legend. You are one of the most recognized singing teachers in the world, one of the most recognized faces in our singing voice community. And it is such an honor having you on the show. How are you?

Jeannette LoVetri  03:59

I’m good Marisa, thank you so much for inviting me to be here. I couldn’t be more delighted and honored with the opportunity to share fun voice information. I’m always up for that. And I feel like you know, my young self had no idea was ever going to end up having these kinds of conversations. So it’s always it’s always fun. So thank you.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:27

it’s such a pleasure. We actually met in around I think either 2014 or 2015 When I interviewed you for my doctoral research, and you were a participant in my research study, and then I’ve never forget the first time we met face to face was in Florence. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:53

And I’ve paid Yes, about 2015 at p bak and I was presenting the early results of my research on CCM, and who’s in the front row, but the CCM queen, Jeanette LoVetri, and can I tell you not only did I have butterflies, but there were I had butterflies flying in formation that day, I was so nervous to speak in front of you, it was probably one of the scariest moments of my career that you were so kind and you always are so kind.

Jeannette LoVetri  05:33

Well, I feel like it’s so joyful to see the next generation coming along, being enthusiastic about this idea of contemporary commercial music, being enthusiastic about training voices to sing all kinds of stuff. That’s what any teacher wants is the next generation to carry on the work and go further. So I know people tell me, I intimidate them, but it certainly isn’t my intention. My intention is to be supportive and congratulatory, because that’s the only way anything is going to change us to moce it forward.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  06:07

Yes, I wasn’t so much intimidated that I found you scary. It was more that I was scared that I would say something that wasn’t correct, because you knew so much more than what I did. And you will leaps and bounds. And you are like my rock star in CCM and I didn’t want to let the community down and you were there. And you were listening to every word. And that was more about that rather than you being a scary person, because we’ve met a number of times over the years overseas in Philadelphia as well. At care professional voice symposium. And sorry, I’m gonna sneak this little story in, because—

Jeannette LoVetri  06:58

I have another one I wanted to sneak in also. I was presenting a workshop in the south of the United States. The other person who had been invited to present was a man whose name was Oren Brown. Oren was a pioneer of voice work. Yes. From like the 40s and was a teacher of metropolitan opera stars. He was at our Juilliard conservatory. I mean, there was no one in higher esteem than Oren Brown. And I’m just going to teach in front of him. He went first. And then I went, and I had the same feeling like, I hope I don’t see anything wrong. I hope. I won’t say anything he doesn’t like. And at one point, he had this rich low baritone voice. He said, This is Lavinia tree. I think you mean the—? And oh, yes, Professor Brown, thank you for correcting me. Thank you for that. And in my head, I’m going—

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  07:56

Oh my gosh, that would have thrown you.

Jeannette LoVetri  08:00

Well, it was a little tiny. I stated. I didn’t state it as as correctly as it could have been. And he was very gracious about how he made the correction. And I was glad he made it. But I also had those butterflies. So I understand that he was a nicest person you could ever know. So yeah, again, it well. Okay. Now, what were you going to talk about?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:24

Oh, I was just going to mention, I’m going to try and make this really quickly because this is about you. It’s not about me. But it does involve you. One time we’re at Philadelphia, and we were having a lunch break. And the next session was the session I was about to present in. And you were there with your beautiful husband, Jerry, having lunch. And I marched over to you and I said, Jeanne, my presentation goes for 11 minutes. And you said no, no, no, you can’t you can’t do that. This is my poor American accent. You know, it’s eight minutes. And then there’s, you know, time for the changeover. And I said, Jeanne, I have traveled from Australia, I’m not going to be cut short. I’m going to speak for 11 minutes, and you can ring the bell, and you can do whatever you like, but I ain’t stopping. And I remember your face, and you went, okay.

Jeannette LoVetri  09:25

You remember this, and on.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  09:27

Oh and then there’s a little light that goes from green to amber to red. So that you know, to stay on time. And you you were chairing the session with with a European gentleman, obviously a classical singer because he looked very formal. And so I was presenting and in my peripheral vision as the amber light turned to red. I could see him starting to get a little bit antsy, and you put your hand over his hand and you stopped him. I don’t remember that at all. Welcome you to all my gosh, because I remember telling our good friend Irene Bartlett, that what I done and she couldn’t believe it, then I just thought, Well, that was my moment of being a brace and astray. But it worked. I got my 11 minutes. If you don’t ask you don’t receive in life. That’s what I figure. Yes. But anyway, Jeanne, let’s get back to you. Okay, let’s start with you. And you growing up. So did you grow up in a musical family was singing that you something that you started doing at a very young age?

Jeannette LoVetri  10:40

Yes, my mother sang a little bit professionally when she was young. But her sister was a professional singer with a big band, and traveled around the United States with the big band for, I don’t know, a number of years, I don’t remember. And then my dad had a nice voice. And he would sing when he was doing stuff at home. So singing was a very normal, natural behavior. And I can remember as a child, like, if I was in the tub, say, my mother and I would sing together, we would sing different songs that she knew. And so I just thought that was something that everybody did. Everybody would say, it wasn’t any thing we fussed over. And then I belong to the brownies. That’s a organization for from the Girl Scouts is for little kids, we had that there was a meeting where the teachers had the children were allowed to say, what was their favorite activity or toy, or what their was their favorite thing to enjoy. And I decided that I would say it was one of my favorite things was singing. So I got up and I sang, when Irish eyes are smiling. I was probably about seven or eight. And I didn’t think anything of it, you know, some kids were talking about their bicycles or something else they had, and I sang and then we sat down. But when the meeting was over, and we our kids went outside, my mother was there to pick me up, take me home, the the women who were the leaders of the troops. And this is essentially your little girl has such a beautiful voice, and she can see so well. And my mother was as surprised as I was because she didn’t think anything about it, either. So from that, it was like, Well, you know, the love every kid can sing. So throughout school as there was ever a time for somebody to sing something, they will not point to me. And I was a little bit, you know, sir not happy about that, because it made me stick out. It wasn’t always you know, sometimes the other kids would make fun of me because of that. But over time, as I got into like, maybe about 14, we had a lot of course in school, and I sang the solos in this course things. And people kept saying, Oh, your of what your daughter has into mice where she should take singing lessons. So finally, when I was about 15 or so my parents found a singing teacher in the area. And we didn’t have a lot of money. I mean, my dad had a low level job and my mother didn’t work. So for them to pay for lessons was a lot was a big deal. But they they managed to come up with enough money for me to start singing lessons. And the woman who was my teacher was a very lovely person. And I just went along and learned whatever she was teaching. And she told me I had to learn how to sing Italian art songs and okay, whatever that is, yes. So gradually went on. And then in high school, the town that we lived in was very wealthy town. And they had very good public schools because of the fact that there was money. And the choir director of the high school had a big reputation, and the chorus had won prizes, and competitions. So he was one of the people that was encouraging to me, and the other music teachers in the school or saying, you know, this is something that you should really seriously think about. So when it came time to find out about going to college, I applied to two schools here in New York City that were music conservatories. One was Juilliard, which I did not get into. And the other one was Manhattan School of Music. Both schools, right, yes, you’re–

Jeannette LoVetri  14:11

Yes. 

Jeannette LoVetri  14:11

And I got into Manhattan School of Music. And I had no idea really, what a music conservatory was.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  14:20

Right. You just felt it was the place to be?

Jeannette LoVetri  14:24

Well, the people who were knowledgeable the guidance counselor’s and the others, they were saying you should do this and my parents didn’t know any better so that we won’t Oh, okay. Okay, so I arrived at this conservatory and taking lessons there and it wasn’t a very good fit. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  14:40

Really? 

Jeannette LoVetri  14:41

No, it didn’t suit me at all.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  14:43

Why was that? 

Jeannette LoVetri  14:45

Oh, there were a lot of reasons, I think because I was very unsophisticated as a as a as a young teenager. I also wasn’t particularly knowledgeable about what does it mean to sing classical music and it If there had been at that time of degree in Music Theater, then I probably would have been fine. But trying to be an opera singer was something that I didn’t think it was a good fit. Right. And my primary voice teacher was from Germany. She was a Wagnerian soprano. She has big, huge voice. And she didn’t know what to do with my little squeaky soprano. He was like, Oh, well, you don’t seem to know very much, dear. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  15:32

Oh, my God 

Jeannette LoVetri  15:33

Do you even how to breathe?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  15:34

My gosh, well, that’s really positive reinforcement. That’s a great way to teach.

Jeannette LoVetri  15:41

Anyway, I lasted only one year, and then I quit. And my father said, Well, I’m not sending you to any more colleges. So get a job. So he did. And I started taking ads in the local newspaper classified ads. So if you were going to sell your bicycle, or take your ad, and started to go into the city for lessons privately, and once a week, I’d come into New York and take lessons that didn’t go very well, either. randos the Teach? No, because the teachers that I found, which were, you know, asking somebody to recommend a teacher, they didn’t really know what to do with me. And I, I studied with a woman who also had been a big opera singer. And the woman’s whose lesson was before mine on Saturday would come in on the train. She had the biggest, loudest voice you could ever ever imagine. And then after her lesson was over, I would come in with my oh my gosh, and this teacher was like, oh, did you hear that woman whose lesson was before yours? What a magnificent voice she had. And I was like, 19 Yeah, okay. Uh huh. And then after a while working with her one day, she told me I had a deformed tongue. And okay, heartbroken. I put it I found tongue. Yeah. I thought, Oh, well, no wonder I’m not getting anywhere. Why didn’t anybody ever tell me that before? I mean, a 19 years old. I should have known that by now. So I’m just crying all the way home on the hour on the train. And then somewhere in the back of my mind, that little voice, man, that’s crazy. And like goodness, oh, like, Wait, I’ve been singing since I was seven years old. And nobody threw tomatoes at me. Maybe that’s not what’s going on here. So that was the big first moment that I realized, I guess I’m gonna have to figure this out for myself. Wow. Because some of these teachers said the craziest stuff. And the one before the one in between those two. She was like, oh, everything you do is marvelous, my dear. And so I go and pay for the lessons. And I didn’t learn anything, because all she could tell me was how good I was. So I thought that can’t be I mean, there must be lots of more for me to learn, but she couldn’t tell me what it was.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  18:05

So you had two extremities. You had one teacher, who was telling you how brilliant you were, and the other teacher tearing you apart.

Jeannette LoVetri  18:16

Even though those are yeah, yeah. In between, right?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  18:19

Yeah. But you know what, in some crazy way, maybe it was just as well, you had that other kind teacher? Because maybe you needed a little bit of that positive reinforcement somewhere, come from somewhere.

Jeannette LoVetri  18:34

Yeah. And I didn’t really have a lot of me, my parents were supportive, but they were uneducated people. And they didn’t really have anybody around that was educated. So I didn’t have any support in that sense. And then there wasn’t anybody who was musically around that was more knowledgeable. So I was always kind of past that point. I was on my own. And I just flailed around and made my my way as best I could. But eventually, I moved into New York. And once I got here, I began to meet more people who were professional. And around that same period of time, I had been involved in musical theater in this town that I lived in where the people doing it were New York professionals, they were Broadway professionals who lived in the suburbs where I lived about an hour, I was about an hour outside of New York City. So I had very good exposure to these new york professionals. And I started teaching other kids, young people, teenagers, and by the time I came to New York, I was 26. Almost immediately I got some students and I was basically just saying what seemed like common sense like oh, you know, when you sing that you should open your mouth more or, oh, you know, there’s a way to use your breathing so that you can make your belly muscles work better, and just that was enough to help people. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  19:55

Okay, so you were basing what you were teaching at that time on what you felt was working for you, perhaps.

Jeannette LoVetri  20:05

I was I was just trying to do what seemed to me common sense and simple. And you know, like, oh, well, you know, if you’re gonna sing that maybe you should hold on to the note for longer. Nothing fancy. But if you’re working with people who don’t know anything, and they’re young kids, I didn’t do I didn’t hurt anybody. Yeah. And I wasn’t trying to produce great opera deals, I was just helping them learn music. And I did all right. Again, I was trying to go to I was trying to take lessons, I was going to auditions. Occasionally, I’d get a job. I did a big ensemble piece at Lincoln Center. And I performed with those people in different venues here in New York. Let me get to meet people and get more knowledge about what was what. And the really the only kind of training there was, was toward classical music, whether you want it to or not, that’s where you went and got your lessons. Or you just went to acting school or became a speech pathologist. But there wasn’t any training that was aimed at music that wasn’t possible.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  21:09

So up until that point, when you had that classical training, had you been exposed to that music?

Jeannette LoVetri  21:17

Yeah, I mean, I sang all the things that you learned, I learned Italian, French, and German art songs. And I learned arias from Opera and oratorio. And I sang in local churches, I sang weddings, I sang in church, when I was I played the organ for 10 years of saying before and after church, pretty much, but here and there, I also was involved in a few more musicals in Connecticut. Then when I came to New York, I got a few little off Broadway things. All of the experiences that I had were all over the map, I did some of this, then I did some of that I went over here, then we went over there. And everybody else my age was in college learning in a sequential way in an academic circuit circumstance. It was very good that I didn’t do that here. Yes, it would have put me into that mold of academic mindset. Yes. And first of all, I really was never comfortable with that. But secondly, it would have only exposed me to a certain way of thinking, being on my own all the time, and going from this teacher to that teacher from this class to that class, from this performance to that performance. At the time seemed very chaotic. It seemed like, Ah, geez, I can’t go in a straight line. Ultimately, looking back at it, it was very good because it exposed me. I sang for five years with a Broadway based gospel group. And when I first joined, and I didn’t know anything about that music, but because I sang with other people for five years, I learned about it. And I was never really a singer that we would say, Oh, my gospel singer, but I sang in the ensemble with everybody in the background, I sang for the artists in that time. A lot of these people were Broadway performers, and sang for fun in these gospel groups. And then I was teaching young Broadway performers in started in 1980. So one of the first students that I had was in the revival of the musical 42nd Street. i Yes. So once I started working with her, she sent me other people from Broadway. And so I was suddenly dealing with that, and everything kept moving around all over the place. And I always was at the attitude of okay, let me see what this is. Let me figure it out. Let’s figure it out.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  23:39

Let’s figure it out. That’s been my career, too. I totally get that. And you’ve you’ve been in the trenches, so to speak, because you’ve actually, you’ve actually done the work. So not only so you, you actually were living and creating those sounds and not learnt them out of a textbook.

Jeannette LoVetri  24:00

Oh, no. And when I first came to the auditions in New York, for Broadway or Off Broadway, and they would say, Oh, can you belt and I’m good. Yeah. Yeah. And sing loud. Because that’s what I–

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  24:12

That’s what you thought, Yeah.

Jeannette LoVetri  24:13

And, and I was for a while I thought, oh, good for me, I can do this. But then after a while, I noticed that my voice was tired. Plus, at that same time, the classical people were trying to get me to sing more dramatic material, bigger, heavier roles. So I was pushing to sing, and I didn’t realize it. I mean, I didn’t know that that wasn’t good. And so the combination of the two things after a while when I would go to use my voice, it had a lot of problems. And I started to feel very pressed about why can I sing better than this? I didn’t have enough information to realize that there was a reason Yes. And none of the teachers that I had all four very prestigious and well educated, musically speaking, actually said, You know what you need to go have your vocal folds looked at by a doctor. Nobody said that. In fact, the last teacher said to me, Oh, he said, I think you just need to sing new, new material. And I said, Oh, no, I said, there’s something else going on. It just didn’t feel right. He said, Well, you sound okay. I see you. I know I sound okay. But that’s something is not right. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  25:24

Didn’t you feel right?

Jeannette LoVetri  25:26

You’re just being fussy. And this was the man I had studied with for like, six years. I mean, I was. And I thought, I can’t explain it. But something is what it needs to be. And I don’t know what to say about it. So again, I was on my own. And I was 29. I’ve been studying for 15 or so years. Yes. Some of these teachers were very famous, very expensive. Yes. And I was bomas last, just lost. And I thought, well, if this is what it takes to learn how to be a good singer, I might as well just quick, because I am never going to figure this out. What then, in the back of my mind was that voice, you got to see, we got to see. And my mother used to say, I want you to sing something for means that Oh, Mom, no, no, come on. I want to hear you sing. So I was walking around very depressed and having all kinds of problems with my throat. And then somebody said to me, you know, you should go to this thing called the Voice Foundation at Juilliard. And I said, Well, what is it and she said, Oh, it’s a conference, people present about the voice you should go. So I was very broke, and depressed, and I had really scrimp and save to get the money to go. But I did go. And then I came into this lecture hall, and it was actually art at the time. Yes. And they were talking about the larynx and vocal folds, and we’re talking about vibration patterns. And wow. You have to remember this is 1970.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  26:59

Yes, yes. I my first experience at that conference, I felt exactly the same. That’s why I’m laughing. I’m going, What the hell are they talking about? What language are they speaking? So, I’m totally getting it.

Jeannette LoVetri  27:15

Yeah. So I sat next to a young woman who looked like she was about my age. And she said she was a speech pathologist. So we struck up a conversation, and we were looking at the slides. What’s that? What are those white things? Oh, those are your words. Wow. What does that mean? Oh, she said, Well, that’s a chart that shows how the voices makings but you know, acoustic spectrum, I saw acoustic. So she was like my first exposure, and I was able to ask her some questions was very patient. And I came away thinking, wow, I don’t I don’t know anything. I’ve been seeing for how many years 20 something years? And I don’t know a thing.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:07

Yes, yes.

Jeannette LoVetri  28:10

I realized, okay, these people are talking about something real. And they’re not talking about imagine the sound is coming out of your nose like an elephant trunk deer. had one teacher say to me, now the song should be wider than your cheekbones. So you must be wider than your cheek? Is that why is thing you were told? Oh, no. Plenty more other things. But I close my eyes. And I pictured Okay, wider, then we cheekbones on and then sing. So whatever that was? Oh, no, do that wasn’t it? So? You know, I’m looking back at that. And I think who can learn anything that way?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:51

Yes.

Jeannette LoVetri  28:52

And so when I was finally able to get enough information from reading whatever was available now this is prior to there were no there was no internet, you had to go to the library. You had to find a book. You could read that make sense? Then you had questions? I didn’t have a professor. I had to go wait until I saw somebody in the conference and say, Can I asked you a question? Could you tell me exactly what this means? And so I spent 10 years in between the symposium, which was once a year trying to get information from books or magazines. And then when I would go to the symposium, I would be like a raving crazy person. Because anybody that was friendly, I’d say, Oh, can I ask you a question? Oh, could you could you explain this to me? Oh, I saw your presentation, where you’re saying that, and they were kind they were explaining things to me. And then when I went to the workshop sessions, which they still have a day where various people teach different kinds of singing, and the speech pathologist work with patients and sometimes I’m just the doctors to presentations of an exam. I would go to these workshop presentations, and some of them were done by the Juilliard faculty, you know, very well known. Yes. And they were, they were just awful. Yeah. And it was the same thing. There was this woman who was it faculty, she was an older woman, very, very well known. And she had this poor student, he was up in front of the roomful of people there. She says to him, relax, relax, don’t you know you’re not relaxed? And they said, Geez, I thought that’d be relaxed when somebody’s yelling at you. I know, right? And so she says, I want you to lean over, fall over forward, and you just breathe. And then she’s pushing on his back. I said, Well, don’t have to be a psychologist to think this is not going to help him. And then I went and watched one of the teachers who was a word, he was a Broadway cabaret specialist. So I thought, Oh, good. Let me go and see that that’s really what I’m interested in. And he’s working with this person. And he’s telling her to just talk and sing at the same time. And I could see she’s struggling. And I’m thinking, well, she doesn’t really understand what to do with that as a as an instruction. She’s classical. She’s not used to speaking and singing in the same mode. And I walked out of that session that I got, I know, I’m only 29. But I know better than what I just saw. Just a sense. Yes. This is not good enough. And so that made me very angry. So what when are we talking here? Still, like round 79? 80? Really? Wow. Okay. Okay. And so I decided that I would go over here to the symposium and I would go to all these classes. And in the meantime, I was still reading and I was still carrying on and then into the 80s, I would go every year to talk to people, I began to understand a lot more. And I was still teaching and not so much performing anymore, but doing a lot of teaching and attending conferences for singing teachers. And I remember one, one year, the voice Foundation was not in New York, it was in Denver. I was just the one time it was not here, before it moved to Philadelphia, where it is now. And this guy was he was working with a classical baritone. And my ex husband is a classical baritone. And I knew this repertoire because of him. His teacher is banging on the piano going, you’re not listening to the note. You’re not listening to the note. And I’m thinking, well, the man is singing very difficult classical Aria. He’s got to hear the note, that’s not the problem. The problem was the guy’s throat was very tight. And he was struggling to reach the notes. So he was slightly flat. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  32:49

Yes.

Jeannette LoVetri  32:49

Surface type.

Jeannette LoVetri  32:50

So I was sitting there with all these people taking notes. And I knew the poor man is struggling, and I just lost it. And I raised my hand and I said, Excuse me, how did you know he can’t hear the note? Did you ask him? And and then he said, Oh, no, now it’s, it’s just fine. You know, everybody gave me dirty looks. Of course, I said, Oh, I’m sorry. I said, I just you know, he said, It’s fine, dear. We’re here to share all opinions. So he then had the young man sing an aria. And when he was in the music, all of those problems he had went away. And it was like, I wanted to say, oh, sorry, certainly, like has a new larynx just because now he’s singing music and he doesn’t have those problems, or was the problem what you were instructing him to do that as throat was tightening the first one. And again, that was when I thought afterwards, this is just doesn’t work. And I actually went back home and wrote a letter complaining. This is not I didn’t pay a lot of money travel all the way out to Denver, which for me, at that time was an extremely huge expense to YES to people catching guests who don’t know what they’re doing. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  32:50

Yes. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  33:59

Yes. So did you write to Robert Sataloff? 

Jeannette LoVetri  34:02

No, I wrote to Dr. Gould because Dr. Gould was still in charge of that. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  34:05

Okay. 

Jeannette LoVetri  34:06

Wilbur James Gould was the man who started the Voice Foundation. But as I, as they were going on, and I began to talk to people and know people, I think it was probably in like 1986 that Dr. Sataloff began to take over. And one of the first things I when I was speaking to him, I said, you know, if you if you’d ever like somebody to talk about music theater, I would be really honored if they would consider me and he said, okay, he said, Why don’t you teach for workshops next year? So that following year was the first time I was presenting in the workshops.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  34:40

And was that the best time they had a musical theater representative? 

Jeannette LoVetri  34:44

No. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  34:45

Okay.

Jeannette LoVetri  34:45

That’s why this other guy, the guy that I had seen the first guy that was cabaret music, the other really was a very nice man. I didn’t know what he was doing. And while I was demonstrating Dr. Silver came in and was watching me teach in the And afterwards, he said, your audit was very interesting what you’re doing. I have never seen this. He said, You know, if you ever come to Stockholm, you should say I will do some research with you. And so I, I knew by then I had been attending the symposium for like 12 or 13 years. I knew who Dr. Silver was.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  35:20

We all know him. Yes.

Jeannette LoVetri  35:24

So I went home, and I called somebody in Copenhagen, who was someone I knew who did singing, and I said, Hey, can you make a workshop for me in like November? She said, Yeah. So she cooked up a workshop for me in Denmark, in Copenhagen. And I was able to call Dr. Sunberg. And say, Guess what, Dr. Silver, I’m going to be close by I’m going to be in Copenhagen. You said you would be interested in having me come to your lab. Is that still true? And he said, Yeah, you could come maybe November. But I said, Yes. I see I can do that. So that’s what happened. I taught the workshop in Copenhagen. And I took the ferry over to Aarhus, which now they have a bridge, but then it was a boat. Yeah. And he spent five days studying my throat. Just me really.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:12

Ah, and what was he doing? Was it like, strip off Skippy boy?

Jeannette LoVetri  36:17

Yeah, nasal stroboscopy, and I was going, Well, I was, what he saw me do was I was talking about singing, like a classical singer. And then I would, you know, go to a belty place, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah. And then sort of mix was him. Well, he hadn’t ever seen anybody do that. Before. He was that was completely unknown to him. He was only he was used to working only with classical singers. And at that time, that’s all anybody did was classical singers. So we spent a lot of time going in and out of classical head register, and then belty chest and some mix back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And I stayed in his house, and I lived with his family. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  37:05

That’s incredible. 

Jeannette LoVetri  37:06

I had a private private tutoring with Johann Swinburne for five days. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  37:12

That is incredible. 

Jeannette LoVetri  37:14

Aha ,and so I was able to ask all kinds of questions. And I had his book and I would say, Dr. Sumburgh, I don’t understand this page. What does this mean? And he would tell me, so by the time I came back, I really understood not only what was in the book, but what I was doing. And it really gave me confidence to say, Okay, now I know what I’m talking about. And then I had seen the inside of my throat going back and forth, and all these different sounds. And I could see that each one of them was a different configuration inside. So I thought, well, it’s not like it’s all the same. Everybody always says, oh, classical training will prepare you for anything you want to see. And they still say that. Yeah, of course they do. But let me know. If you go to the opera house, and you then take these opera singers and ask them to sing rent a can? 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  38:04

Yes, yes, exactly. 

Jeannette LoVetri  38:06

So if that were true, why can’t they? Shouldn’t they be able to do–shouldn’t they be able to sing any kind of music? No, they can’t. So that’s just false. And so when I understood that, then as I was teaching, I was working with higher level people all the time, you know, as more and more professionals all the time, I also began to learn more about the styles and the about the demands of the styles, and if people shouldn’t be people. So I, when I was continuing to be in the workshops, some people who were attending the symposium saw me and said, Oh, we would love for you to come and be our keynote speaker in our statewide conference in Virginia. And I said, Oh, that would be lovely. So I went, and I did a masterclass for the statewide conference. And then two of the women who were at that conference came and said to me, gee, we really like what you’re doing. Could you come and teach at our school? And I said, Sure, I’d love to do that. So they made arrangements for me to come and teach the master couple master classes with their music theater students. And by then, there were a number of schools that had begun music theater degree programs. Yeah. So there were there were finally programs that combine singing and acting and dancing in a degree. And that school was in a dual conservatory, a year’s Chester, Virginia. Yeah, that was where I went four times. And I was working with the undergrads, mostly there. And the dean of the talk Conservatory came to me one day and she said, you know, we really like what you’re doing and it’s not like what other people do. Can you write a course for other teachers? Maybe you could do during the summer? Then I went back to the butterfly feeling or you know, that same field? Yes. Yes. Butterflies flying in formation. Yes. I don’t really know. Oh, I said, I mean, this is what I do. But I don’t know if anybody else would want to do this. Yeah. So what would you try? And I said, Yeah, I’ll try. So I spent the whole year working on the materials. And I, what I did was I went back in my mind. And I, every time I did a masterclass wherever it was, I got the same questions over and over and over. Yes, let’s what is belting? And how do you belt? And what’s the difference between this breathing and that breathing? What? Why do we have to sing like this way over that and that way over here? So I just answered the questions by writing the course materials, and just saying, Well, okay, here’s the information based on my life experience. And in 2002, I did the first course in July, and I was terrified, just terrified. Because I thought maybe I’d have 10 people come, maybe 15. But then next thing was people registered was 20. And the college said, Well, how many do you want? And I said, I don’t know, as well. Can you handle 25? I guess, and then can you handle 30? Can you help 35? And I thought, oh my gosh, so I ended up with 60 people. And I thought, haha, how am I going to how am I going to teach 60 people for five days in a row for from nine to five? How about and some of these people had doctoral degrees. And I thought, oh, boy, this is going up. They’re gonna really? I don’t know, they’re gonna throw tomatoes at me for sure. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  41:35

Yeah. But it just goes to show that by then, so we’re 2002. Now you created the term, CCM in around 2000. But 2002, there was already talk of CCM. And by then people must have, you must have inspired curiosity within the singing voice community. And those people who were probably thinking what you were thinking, this music has to have its own training system. We’re probably so hungry by then, for what you were going to deliver. And you would have been the only person out there that had any answers for them.

Jeannette LoVetri  42:19

Well they–the conference that was given by the New York City Teachers Association, in conjunction with Mount Sinai Medical Center in the year 2000 was called something like singing teachers in the new millennium. Okay, and I was the opening speaker. And I had just done some research in 1999, with Dr. Ingo Titsa, who was also a very well known voice scientist. Yes. Who was investigating the origins of vibrato in singers. So when I was with Dr. Titsa, I spent four days with him too. And, you know, got to ask him all kinds of questions. We talked a lot about every kind of singing thing, but life too. Yeah. And they stuck electrodes in my vocal cords. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  43:08

Oh, my gosh. 

Jeannette LoVetri  43:09

So I had a medical doctor. And I had my throat had a hole in it when he put the wire.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  43:16

Is than an EEG? Is that–yes? Ok.

Jeannette LoVetri  43:22

Okay. Right. Yeah. So I had three halls on one side and four holes on the other side, where they were trying to put the electrodes on either the critical thyroid or the thyroid retinoid while I was making sound. And you could literally see the wire sticking out of my throat, from inside the larynx. And I did, I did this test that Dr. Titsa had thought of. And I was asked to sing specific pictures repetitively while they turned up the juice on my book. And so when they did the cricothyroid muscle, and register sound, I was able to go all the way through the whole test. And at some point, I was oh, I was also being asked to sing without vibrato. And so then cast like seven Hertz. The vibrato began to show up, but I wasn’t doing it. She was doing it’s just okay. So when they did the third retinoid muscle, I’ll never forget the electrical stimulation ran all the way from my right eye socket up here, down through my nose, down through my throat into my neck and into my shoulder was set uncomfortable. Yeah. And I asked Dr. Smith, I said he was the laryngologist doing this. I said, Why do I feel this all the way up and down inside and he said, Oh, it’s it’s referred nerve stimulus. So why That’s really strong. He said, Yeah, could be. So as I went through the same test, when they were turning up the amount of electricity that was going through past halfway, I couldn’t follow it. Because if I tried to make sound, I would choke, I just would show what so they have to stop. But having finished that, as an experience, you know, with Dr. Titsa, I was also I did it because it was a way for me to learn more, you know, I wanted to know what happens when they electronically stimulate your vocal folds. And so I was willing to go where I had to go wherever it is to find out more to learn more. And when Dr. Silver published the first week, the research that he did with me, which was published first in Sweden, and then published in the journal on voice, it was a breakthrough paper because no one had ever studied somebody who could sing in so many different ways. And it really sort of opened up the idea that there’s more than one way to sing. And then my statement in 2000 was I’m not going to say non classical anymore. I’m going to say Contemporary Commercial Music.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  46:09

So yeah, sorry, 

Jeannette LoVetri  46:11

We don’t we don’t want long classes. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  46:13

No, no, we–yes, exactly. So in what forum, or in what context did you introduce that descriptor?

Jeannette LoVetri  46:23

Well, that was at the conference, the science and all the singing teachers in the new millennium. And so there were like 300 people there. And Dr. Day was there

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  46:33

Were they singing teachers or members–?

Jeannette LoVetri  46:35

Mostly singing teachers, but there were some medical people. So there was a few speech pathologist, some medical doctors, the mount Sinai’s gobshite Medical Center is a endowed center within the hospital complex, which was set up by money left from the estate of Dr. Graham Shine. And he was a laryngologist for many, many years here in New York. And he treated just about every famous singer that there was. So this is a dedicated facility within the hospital, primarily aimed at voice patients. So it was a combination of the New York senior teachers association and Mount Sinai, which I was the opening speaker and I stood up and said, This is what I’m going to do and I got a lot of pushback at first.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  47:20

So you got up there, sorry. And you said, okay from this point on, we are not calling this music, Non-classical or Music outside of Classical, we are going to call a Contemporary Commercial Music styles.

Jeannette LoVetri  47:35

Yeah, that’s what I said, I am not going to any longer when somebody says, Well, what do you teach? Oh, I teach non classical styles. I said, you know, if somebody said, well, are teaching non-medicine, or teach non-law, I said, that would be incredibly stupid. Yes, so I said, I’m not going to define what I do. But what I don’t do. So this is what I’m going to call it. And I’m not going to use nonclassical anymore. And so the word went out that I had created this terminology. And then when I was at Shenandoah, the first year I taught I called it music, theater, vocal pedagogy. But then the second year, I called the contemporary commercial music, and I named the institute, the contemporary commercial music vocal pedagogy Institute. And a lot of people said, what is that? What is Contemporary Commercial Music? What is that? And I said, Well, it’s the new way we’re describing the music we used to call non-classical. And I made analogies with people that will object. I said, well, here in the United States, if you say contemporary music, you could mean either classical music or other styles of music that are the composers are alive. And that’s happening right now. If you say commercial music generally means the modern music you would hear in a commercial venue. So like at a club, or a theater–

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  48:57

Or on the radio.

Jeannette LoVetri  48:59

Or on the radio or television as a commercial. Yes, I said so, you know, the two terms together don’t have a previous history. And that’s why they need to be together because one or the other does have a history. But the two terms together don’t. And then people said well, but there’s there’s other CCMs I said yeah, I know. We’re here have the Cincinnati conservatory of music which is a very well known CCM and we also have Contemporary Christian Music. Yes. Which is CCM that but you know, if you buy them we have the internet I so if you go online and put in initial CCM, you’ll get 45 organizations that are CCM, Connecticut Council of Municipalities. Yes. All kinds of other things like that. I see. It’s one more. One more. One more. Yeah, the reason that was important was because it broke the glass ceiling in the mindset of people was like, well, there’s the real music which have classical music. And then there’s that other stuff. That’s not really anything. It’s just not. It’s just Yes. And so I’m saying, Well, excuse me. But that’s just ridiculous. And the music that came out of Europe, from the 1500s, to the 20th century has its own validity. But some of the music that arose mostly in the United States came from the local people who created their own music, in church or in the community or in your families. And a lot of that music was influenced by the people who came here and were enslaved to the African and Caribbean peoples who were brought here brought very little with them, but they couldn’t take away their music, their soul that came with them, because from their heads their hearts, yes, yes. So well, as music was used. One of the few things that the enslaved people were allowed to keep was their music, which they, they still had to hide, but they would go into the woods, and they had little small places where they would meet, and they would sing. And so that came up from the bottom of the society all the way bubbled up. And then if, at the beginning of the 20th century, when we began to have the very first microphones, and the very first movies with sound, suddenly, millions of people could hear music, instead of just hundreds of people. And the music became very popular. So we had early jazz, and then we had the movies, and the vaudeville, people became well known. So it has different roots. It has different origins than music, which came from the church, or from the aristocracy and the nobility, and sort of filtered down from on high. And I said, you know, if we look at this music, the only thing that’s different is in each country, there is folk music, which is endemic to that culture. So you know, the folk music of Scandinavia is different than the folk music of Spain. Yes. And here, we have folk music in different places that have different traditions. But other than that, we have the music that came from the people. And here in the United States, we have a very famous painter, whose name is Grandma Moses, Abraham on grandma Mosers paintings now sell for millions of dollars. And she was one of the very first painters who was recognized in the art world, for being an untrained artist, who was very, very, very good. So she would sit in her farm, and she would paint the area around her farm, and she painted very detailed paintings. And somebody saw them and go, Wow, these are really, really wonderful. So she was brought into the art world, and people began to celebrate her work and her and she became more well known. And so she was, in a sense, a folk artist as a painter. And we all know, you know, Andy Warhol was also considered, oh, he’s just a person. He doesn’t, what does he know, tomato cans, and his painting of or his print of a Marilyn Monroe just sold at one of the big galleries here two weeks ago for $190 million. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  53:31

Oh, my goodness, that’s incredible!

Jeannette LoVetri  53:36

Yeah. So in other words, the value of folk anything, or the music of the people was gradually becoming more and more important. And at some point, it passed the classical world. So, you know, classical was going down and becoming less well known. Yes. And less universal. Yes. And the pop music was exploding all over the world. And especially in the 50s and 60s, it became you know, rock and roll became an international thing. So my point of view was, well, why don’t we have to try to force gospel singers and rock singers into this mode of what was worked for, for Mozart and for Scarlatti? Or even for Puccini and Verdi. How do they how are they the same? Yes. And so as you know, it’s not gone. It’s still gone. Yes. That Oh, just in classically, you can see anything you know, that’s not gone. But there’s it’s harder and harder for people to say that and get away with it.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  54:46

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of A Voice and Beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth. and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag #AVoiceandBeyond. I promise you, I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you’d like to help me, please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple Podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway. Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of A Voice and Beyond.

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