behind the stars
behind the stars
Having established a career initially as a singer and songwriter in the jazz-pop crossover genre, Lisa Hugo had extensive success with the release of several albums and singles available on all digital music platforms. Her music paved the way for performing opportunities all over the world including the Dubai International Jazz Festival back in 2009.
Lisa Hugo, originally from Melbourne Australia, has been residing in the UAE for the past 12 years. Currently more recognized and known for her voice-coaching expertise to singers and speakers, she took time off her busy schedule to correspond with musivv.
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behind the stars
tell us about
The biggest turning point for me which lead me into serious coaching, was when I encountered vocal problems myself. I was on tour, performing 6 shows per week, my voice was tired, and I didn’t listen to the symptoms and kept pushing my voice. The result was a vocal injury that required, rest, rehabilitation and a whole rethink into how I was using my voice. From there I vowed to never let this happen to me again, nor to anyone else on my watch. I continued to study the voice to a whole new level and even got a medical certification in vocal disorders. I am passionate about helping others overcome vocal challenges and even rehabilitate vocal disorders. My style of coaching is very technique-driven, developing the full potential of the voice.
I have always enjoyed the coaching and the technical aspect of singing. Coaching has been a way of keeping my own technique in form and passing on my knowledge to others, even when I have been on the road.
I first started coaching singers after graduating from college. The head of the music department asked me to come back and coach some of the new students. I quickly discovered that I had a flair for helping people to develop their voices and overcome challenges they were facing in their singing.
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who inspired you?
I have been inspired by many singers and songwriters throughout my career. Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Maria Callas, Bocelli, Pavarotti, Whitney Housten, Carole King, Karen Carpenter and more recently, Pink, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga.
What inspires me, is a great technique, range, control, individuality, and soul.
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behind the stars
tell us about your business venture.
Setting up a business is risky and a bit scary. I started coaching people as a part-time business whilst I was pregnant with my second child. During these early years, my main focus was on being a good mum, but still balancing being involved in my music and sharing my skills to help others.
My reputation quickly grew in the region as the word spread about the results I could produce. The main challenge is not having enough hours in the day to coach everyone who wants to have lessons with me. Sometimes, I think I need to clone myself.
I am now working on the release of an APP to enable me to reach more people around the world with my coaching.
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who was the first student you ever coached?
The first students I coached were new students at the Australian College of Entertainers in Melbourne. It was a bit nerve-racking because I didn’t feel experienced enough at that time to take on such a responsibility. However, the director of music felt I had it in me and pushed me into the role. It was very rewarding to give back the knowledge I had learned and to see these students develop and grow.
I’ve coached singers signed with major record labels, artists performing on the Westend and Broadway, countless artists from independent recording labels and assisted on productions at DUCTAC in Dubai. Several students of mine have gone on to study at well-known music colleges like Berklee School of Music and Mountview. I have recently worked with Emanne Beasha, winner of Arabs Got Talent and America’s Got Talent 2019 finalist.
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how is it like working with emanne?
Emanne is a very special student. I have been coaching her for 2 years, since Aug 2017, just after she won Arab’s Got Talent. We were introduced through her music adviser as it was clear she needed training. When I first met her, she had a lot of technical problems to fix and she was at risk of damaging her voice. She had only taught herself to sing via YouTube videos and mimicking other singers. As a result, there was a lot of tension we had to release, breath support had to be developed and more. If you compare previous performances to her current skills, the difference is phenomenal.
Emanne worked with me 2 -3 times per week in my studio or online sessions if she was traveling. She is incredibly passionate about her singing and is committed to practice like no other child I have ever met before. For this reason, she got the results we witnessed in her AGT performances.
She is incredibly passionate about her singing and is committed to practice..
She is a bubbly personality, who also just loves to be a kid and do the things that kids love. She is a pleasure to coach.
what keeps you grounded?
I am a mother of 2 girls, aged 13 and 11. They keep me grounded. I work with all kinds of people, not just stars, even executives in molding speaking voices. My passion is to develop the potential in all voices.
what can you say about students who want to sound like famous singers?
I don’t believe anyone should mimic another artist. I always encourage my students to find their own style. We do this by listening to many different artists, singing songs from many different singers, and ultimately finding their style of singing. I even encourage my students to write their own songs if possible.
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what’s a typical lisa hugo day?
I’m up at 5:30 am getting my kids up for school and I drop them off to school on my way to the studio. I usually get there by 8:30 am. Some days I will have executive clients already booked in at this time for early morning sessions. If not, I catch up on correspondence, marketing and social media. I fit in a vocal warm-up for myself before I start coaching my students, or I warm up with them. I coach 6 days a week. In between students, I try to pump out some video content for Youtube or new courses for my App. There are times, I am required to travel to speak on the voice, deliver a workshop to a corporation or coach a student further afield.
how fulfilling is it to see students achieve their best?
This is the main reason I love voice coaching! Sometimes, it’s more rewarding to work with someone who has very little or no experience in the beginning, because the transformations they experience in their voices in those first 4 – 8 weeks can be dramatic.
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What’s important to me is the mindset of the client. They have to be prepared and determined to practice, with the intent to break habits that may have formed over a long period and create new singing behaviors. Some of the biggest hurdles for singers are straining to reach high notes, tongue tension, the rising larynx and register breaks.
share a life
As one person, I can’t accommodate everyone in my schedule. There are only 24 hours in a day and I do have to turn down some people who do not fit with my methodology or agree to my prices. I'd still have to turn down those who do fit with my methodology or rates, simply because it doesn't fit my schedule anymore.
Lesson I have learned is to always believe in yourself and your self-worth. Also, that it's ok to say NO.
what would be your advice to aspiring vocal coaches?
Just because you are a good singer yourself, doesn’t mean you will be good at coaching others. Make sure you have a good understanding of your vocal technique and how to pass on this knowledge to others in a way they can understand it. Understand the client, their needs and coach them on how to get the best out of their instrument. If you are not getting results, don’t blame the client, but take a hard look at your approach.
Lisa is living her dreams in high notes not only for herself but for those she desires to inspire.