Precious Wilson In Conversation with Irina Milova
Precious Wilson Irina Milova – Precious is one of the pioneers of UK Black Music Awards of the 1970s and 80s. They will be talking about seven simple steps to sensational singing (singing like a star). This interview took place last year 2015.
Irina and Precious involved got in a dialogue spanning decades of Eruption – The Group and Precious Wilson.
Precious Wilson and Irina Milova
Here’s the full interview:
Hello and welcome into this interview. I am Irina Milova and I’m absolutely delighted to have Precious Wilson with us today.
Precious is one of the pioneers of UK black music revolution covering the 1970s and the 80s.
Precious wows audiences with her performances internationally and has a fan base across much of continental and Eastern Europe especially Russia.
Today we are talking about seven simple steps about sensational singing, singing like a star.
Hello Irina it’s really good to be with you. How are you?
Irina – good it’s very good and you?
Very excited – to be with you today.
[… and to be able to talk to all of you (the fans) about a new avenue in my career.]
This really excites me in addition to the exciting lucky career that I have had – it is exciting now that I am going to be sharing with you people now – it is really good.
Wonderful! – Lets start. Now the First question would be about the big round if you actually tell us a little bit about your big round how you made your way to success in the field.
Do you know that’s an interesting question because I’ve never seize to be amazed about the fact that I’m still doing what I love for so many years but it was not something that I planned, some of you will know – I was born in Jamaica. In Jamaica most of the population sing and dance and can run very quickly you know all of the sports and athletes that we have that keep winning the medals for a tiny island you know but the music is a way of life that has been for my family and it is interesting…..
Just recently I just discovered that singing is something in my family, my mother sings, I’ve got two brothers that sing my mother’s aunt sang professionally and so and I thought it was just an accident that I ended up singing – but as a child, singing was something everybody did and nobody taught of it as a career and it was” not a proper job” – being a doctor, a teacher, nurse – so I did not plan on being a singer.
But when I was 7 years old my mother decided that she wanted to go to the “green and pleasant lands of England” where “the streets paved with gold” just to give me a better opportunity about the life that she thought and it wasn’t until I was age 14 when my mom changed her mind….
She said “oh we need to send you to America now” because we need you to give you all the opportunity of life and I went to America to my aunt and she was very strict. You know my gosh and I remember it was just myself, my cousin and my aunt – my cousin is 3 years older than I and she was not allowed to go out without permission and I could only go when my cousin Angela went out – she [my aunt] only allowed us to go to church.
And I thought “ahh BORING” – but I think that was the deciding factor that helped me realize the power of the human voice – it was a baptist church with the most amazing gospel singers and I remember …the I first time, I was like wow blown away and I’m studying there in America for my sophomore year and so because I can’t go anywhere aside – I end up joining gospel church and church choir and I think that was a foundation for me experiencing the whole spirituality of singing and how the voice connects with you and how the expression of rejoicing because that’s what you’re doing in Baptist Church, it’s about praising God and connecting with the creator at the fifth level.
That’s why gospel singing is in my heart because it’s not about me; it’s about praising God and connecting to the Creator on a very deep level. I mean that is why gospel singers touch your heart. It’s not about me, me, me, listen to me sing. It’s about praising God.
And I think that’s one of the foundations to me connecting to my spirit, and yeah no need to express it. But I mean, apart from that I always had music around the house. Even in Jamaica. Jamaica is a tiny island for those who don’t know where it is, it is near Cuba okay? It is near Florida in Miami.
We had a country western music in the house, – we had reggae, we had Mario-Lans soap opera, we had good old Church of England Traditional music, old Church song hymns, we had the early of reggae, and we had classical. So, in my sphere influence as a child, the RnB singer, Simon Day, Wilson Pickett, Michaela Jackson, so I was like, saturated with music – as a way of life.
Did Bob Marley have any influence in you or …to some extent?
Yeah – especially later on, when I eventually fell into singing. And you know listening to all types of music and even still today Bob Marley, his music lives on, just makes you feel so good, yeah definitely.
Bob Marley’s music influenced me because it made me realise how much music can touch the world, you know, and everywhere I go, you say “oh I’m from Jamaica”.
And even if they don’t know where Jamaica is, you say, Bob Marley? Ooh yeah! Yeah! – I’m proud of somebody that came from same place.
Thank you, it’s a great beginning. I was, I am very curious about, well for someone who is going to start.
Now, what would you recommend, what would be a good starting point?
I think a good starting point for a beginner who’s contemplating becoming a singer is going for how singing makes you feel and how passionate you are about it, and something that makes you feel good, and whether you’re really interested in it, you know it starts from there.
If you really have a deep interest in it, and it’s something that you will do anyway, where no one has to make you do it, that’s a good place to start.
Yeah, start from your own passion.
I was actually planning to ask you, about, what it actually took you to find your passion and you were talking there about being a teenager, you were 14 years old going to a Baptist church and making your way, all the way to success.
You’ve done the show in the Kremlin, you’ve performed the Queen, the Queen of England, so you have recorded the soundtrack for one of the Michael Douglas movies (Precious: Jewel of the Nile), so how would you outline, maybe some steps, which are crucial, which are important on the way to success in the field.
Well I, to be honest, none of this was planned. It’s a whole big “X”, which I don’t know what happened, who dragged me here, no but seriously, none of it was planned.
I mean the guys in the band, I started with the profession with the band called Eruption and I don’t think any of us, well I mean okay, speaking to myself, I did not even realise it was this, I didn’t realise music cause’ I was having such a good time. It was fun and you know, I just, see from an early age I was always a little bit of a show-off, you know.
I was a little bit of a clown, anything for attention, and to make people laugh, and bring a smile to their face. Ask some of my friends you know, they will tell you I was like a class clown, and so it was very natural for me to perform (Irina: Right). But I didn’t have a strategy or plan to say “oh, well one day I’m going to go into the world, or travel around”.
To really enjoy and make the best of that moment. It was all about the one moment, staying present in that moment, next show, next day, enjoy that day, next concert, rehearse and really perfect what we were doing.
And I really spend it, one day at a time. There was no plan, no strategy. But it was always led by feeling good about singing and wanting to impact people in whatever way. And obviously in this place, it was through my songs from my singing. It was my main prime desire always to leave an effect on people on the end of each performance, at the end of every song. Yeah, motivate them.
Yes, so you were led by your desire, you were led by your passion.
Yeah, absolutely – So that’s a tip for you. Let that indeed lead the way, your passion. Yup.
Okay. So shall we just maybe outline some more tips for our listeners and what would you say – someone should know in order to be successful in singing, in singing like Precious Wilson?
Well, first of all, number one – don’t try to sing like me.
Well, because, everybody has their own, you know it’s like your thumb print; everyone has their own personal to their own character, their own unique factor, their own identity.
I sound like Precious Wilson because I am Precious Wilson and the way I sound, is the sum total of all my influences of the days of being in the back of the truck with the equipment, driving from Munich to Berlin – because we couldn’t afford a hotel.
All that has helped to shape my motivation, my drive as a performer, because’ I’m coming from the old school days of performers. When I say old school, I mean pre, before the mobile phone, before the internet, before MTV, before DVDs, you know, going way back. And in those days, once upon a time, the singers back in the 1977 and ’78, you had to prove yourself by performing.
It didn’t go Facebook and you know, Twitter, and build a fan base. You actually had to do what you said you could do. You had to perform and a lot of people think the end of it was like, “oh wow, you’re so successful”.
We actually, almost had to gain 1 fan at a time in those days, you know, there was no internet to help us. So a tip, I remember our manager, the manager of Eruption back in the early days, he gave us this situation because we started off in London okay?
South London, a place near Clapham Junction, and in the beginning we were really fed up that some of the shows that we had in the nightclubs in West London, people would get up, and talking to their friends or you duck performing on the dance floor or that the drum kit. And they just walk across the front of you and whilst you were trying to sing.
And then someone just turn their back! Can you imagine? You’re singing and they got their back to your face, right? And we hated it. We said to our manager, oh man we don’t like those performances, you need to get us different types of venues. And he said to us, well, you’ve got to make the decision, either you’re going to be a dance band or a show band.
He says, with dance bands people will turn their backs and ignore you and the waiter walks across with the drinks on his hands, you know. People chatter whilst you’re singing your heart out and they are – [yeah! yeah! Talking to their friend]
However, when you are a show band, it means people stop and watch you. The waiter stops, the conversation stops, and all eyes on you. So we thought, yeah, yeah! So then we started rehearsing.
Literally like going to an office. We started 10, we finish at 9 o’clock. And this was before, we won the talent competition, which what started Eruption’s career.
And this was before we went to Germany and met Frank Farian – who was Bonny M’s producer.
And we decided – “so to you it’s making that decision, that we wanted to be a show band, we’re going to make people stop and pay attention”
And so, my tip is this, if you want to be a singer is, what makes you start, what makes the difference between you and the next person why, somebody should buy a ticket, going to watch you perform. Why should I even take time out of their life to listen or to watch you?
So I think, this is such a competitive world now, especially with the internet, so you need to use your unique talent, find what your strong point is, find the characters in your voice and amplify that and nurture that, and you know Irina asked me, how to learn like Precious Wilson, the answer is don’t learn to be like Precious Wilson.
Find out what makes your voice special, what makes you special as a performer, and build on that.
Great! So it’s about your identity.
It’s about your positioning, it’s like in any business.
So, you need to go for your unique, selling point, (Precious: Yeah), and you need to know your big “why”.
Why are you there?
The good thing is – feelings that seem like, oh my God! I got all these things and do I have to tick that box? No, usually you could tell already if you have those ingredients. You know it’s like you just mix the things from all these talent competitions all over the world in all different countries.
And you as your audience sitting at home, somebody comes and starts singing, and you think wow! That person’s got it.
And so they recognise and you can get feedback from people telling you what makes me different, you know, what I have about me that I could strengthen from other people.
Don’t try and copy.
I mean, obviously, in the beginning, you are inspired by other singers. I mean in the beginning, I was inspired by Mahalia Jackson, One Careless Night, and a lot of the RnB singers. You know, a little bit of The Beatles, you know, catchy “look alike” songs, but also, you need to find the space for yourself.
Let’s unveil a few myths regarding singing like a star. For example, a fear of stage, a fear of holding that way you hold the microphone, fear of the audience, and a misconception of a where some people think that it actually takes a lot of effort and a lot of time in years to become or to start singing like a star.
Now, according to your experience, what do you like to say?
Well I mean; efforts, effort, effort, effort.
Effort is a funny word because obviously, some things require effort and some things are better if they were effortless.
There are certain aspects of becoming a successful singer which are effortless and which requires some effort.
When you think of something as an effort does that mean you simply need a skill to develop?
Or is it something to be learnt?
It’s a combination of both, because I think if you have natural raw talent, and you also sometimes need guidance and a mentor in order to bring out that talent, in order like you know, take care of the baby, nurture the talent because you’ve got to bring it together to make it constructive, you know, you have to have a lot of creative energy, but it’s like all over the place, so wasted, then ultimately, it loses its power and effect.
So it’s like you need some effort or somebody like a management or somebody who takes care of guiding you, if you’re not able to do yourself. So that requires some kind of thought. But ultimately enough find a lot of talented people sing quite effortlessly so that aspect of the creativity can be effortless in terms of like, the voice is already there.
But the effort on the upper hand, that’s what I say that is effortless and requires some effort is that sometimes you need some kind of coaching in order to take care of your voice, in order to improve your voice, to let it last for long severity and things like extend the range, and just taking care of it.
So that requires some kind of information, some kind of knowledge and effort to discipline yourself, to do some training.
But having said that, I just started singing without any of that because it was just something that I did, you know. But over the years, I had learnt that you do need some kind of technical help in order to protect it, especially if you’ve been singing for a long time and your body changes.
There’s some effort taking care of your body, because this is the place where you live, and nutrition, rest, and stuffs like that, there’s an effort in discipline, which is needed in order to have a lasting career, things like that. It is a balance, but over the years I’ve found little ways to deal with the tricks of the trade.
Alright – Maybe you would like to share more tips with us about how to stay on top?
I mean, to be honest, number one is a fan base. The fact that people are even interested in what I do because it goes on their interest, you know that I believe to be sitting here right now.
So, I think that’s one of the many that, you know, people who appreciate the efforts that you make in delivering value in terms of your entertainment, in terms of making them feel good, it brings in some kind of happiness into their lives.
Tips, I would say is, to really not just want to be good, but aim to be as great as you can be. There’s a difference between being good and being great and that’s what I love about the Americans. The Americans are very much, you know, into going there.
Americans have this mind-set, whereby they always pushing to get a little bit more improved, to improve each day.
Mind-set is also good, because as I said earlier, it wasn’t always easy, the road to whatever success. I’ve achieved – In spite of the obstacles, you know, that’s the thing; to push on through in spite of the obstacles may seem to hold you back. Like for example, if I was to really not going to go through the obstacles from the beginning of my career, I was not going to be here today.
So it’s things like, the business aspects which are not all that glamorous, you know, and combined with the physical traveling and journeys and when you’re starting off, you don’t have roadies to help you setup the equipment.
You probably have to get into one squeeze vehicle, friend’s cars, you know. So it’s pushing on through those little things, which should fear not determined could put you offset.
So having the mind set of perseverance and determination’ to succeed and to keep going.
Wonderful:. Well, those who are watching us may wonder where they can find out more about what you do nowadays, about performing and things like that.
How can they contact you?
You can contact me from my work site
- preciouswilson.com or
- Where I share with you – all the things that I’ve learned.
- Helping you to, with your voice, if you want to be a speaker or a singer.
- I think the voice is such a wonderful communication tool.
And you know for a lot of people, don’t understand how to be a singer, you just want to communicate better, you have a little mumble, you know, yeah there’s always little tips guys.
Some insights of what I had over the years of being a performer and being on the road.
And some great interviews of my colleagues in the business, you know, my friends from Bonny M, you know, and sharing with people of what it takes to be a successful singer.
A lot of training for your voice, some tips which are useful.
Yeah, so that’s what’s available at preciouswilson.com or thevocaltouch.com.
Precious, I would like to thank you for this great interview.
I’m really grateful for sharing so many secrets and being so open to our listeners today.
Maybe we could talk again more.
Certainly! So see you soon on another interview and it is Precious Wilson.
Precious Wilson and Irina Milova