Vocal Coach to the Stars (Hey, You Think Katy Perry Doesn’t Need Help?)

Even the biggest stars can use a little a help when it comes to their technique and vocal health. The Atlantic takes a look at one of the best coaches in the business.

It’s a Friday afternoon in Los Angeles, and Vanessa Hudgens is getting warmed up. She’s kicked off her boots, stretched out her neck, and stepped onto the white carpet in the cozy music room of her vocal coach, Eric Vetro. Sunlight pours in through the patio doors, and Vetro sits at a black baby grand — a high-end digital model he prefers for lessons because it always stays in tune. As he plunks out exercises, Hudgens begins making weird sounds with her voice: hees, hoos, haws, and heys, wes, mas and whiny-sounding nayayays.

“Now say, ‘Yum yum yum yum yum yum,’” Vetro says, and Hudgens sings back, Yum yum yum yum yum yum, following along to the piano. Vetro, flashing a smile, says: “Nod your head ‘yes.’ Roll your shoulders. Now, big gestures with your arms.” The young singer-actor — of High School Musical and Spring Breakers fame — raises her wrists and clicks them together above her head, then drops them gracefully as she reaches a high note.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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