Unlocking Secrets

When it comes to his vocal capabilities, Ronnie James Dio says, "It's a matter of knowing how to do it... have some talent, have some technique and have a brain to use those other two things... of course these are all my methods, and I don't know if they work for anyone else. For me it does, I've just been very lucky, very fortunate -- very blessed 'in some ways and very determined in other ways'."


I was very fortunate in that I started playing music at five years old. I was a trumpet player. I started at five and played for quite a while, through my high school years. And, played a lot in orchestras, classical music.

I was quite a precocious child. I was very good. I had scholarships at Julliard at the end of my high school. I never wanted to do that. I wanted to be a rock-n-roll musician, but it was such a wonderful training for me, because you sing the same way you play, you do it from your diaphragm, there's a proper technique to do it. So, I just applied what I did as a trumpet to that all the time.


Of course, I had the luxury of having some talent from my folks, my dad's a really good singer, not a professional singer, but he always had a really good voice, and so that was passed on to me.


Then, most importantly again knowing how to do it. You must have technique, this is my instrument, just as a guitar player needs to know how to play a certain kind of a vibrato or to play a harmonic or to play this or to play that. A singer using his voice as an instrument needs to know all those things too. So, (I) never took any vocals lessons, I never felt I needed to.


I've always sung this way, and I've always been a very emotional singer. I believe in the things I sing. Words are the most important things there are to me really. Reading was my life and still is my life. I think that communications is what makes us one step above the apes. So, I've always believed in the words I've sung, and no matter how many times I do 'Holy Diver' or any song as old as that I always believe what I'm singing and always need to pursue the inside of it.


I don't abuse myself physically, and I think that certainly helps. I don't smoke and I probably drink too much, which is worse than smoking really at the end of the day, but not enough to bother myself. And, especially on the road I look after myself, because once a virus strikes, then that's death for the singer. So, you try to stay away from the people that are sneezing, pretty impossible on the bus sometimes, but you do the best you can and you try to fight through it.


You have to have a very strong mental attitude as well. And, you need to have a goal. Your goal needs to be 'I'm going to be great every night, I'm going to be so good tonight, I'm going to reach that perfection. Tonight's the night'; and as long as you have that goal every time, then your mind makes you work as hard as you possibly can.

Kara Uhrlen, The Pure Rock Shop, August 2002