At Point Blank, you can expect to be taught by some of the best in the business. Each of our instructors is selected for a combination of talent, music industry experience, and tangible success – which they pass on to you in the classroom. Each is a true professional in their field, and our faculty in Los Angeles is no exception. For this Instructor Spotlight, we will be interviewing our Grammy Award-winning singing instructor Carol de León on her background, techniques, and inspirations. Looking to learn more about our passionate instructors or our Point Blank LA location? Come chat with us on February 20th at our next free Open House & Guest Masterclass event. RSVP here to reserve your spot.
How long have you been singing and when did you start?
I believe I began to match pitch at one year old. Coming from a family of singers, it felt like a natural action and expectation. By three years old I was performing in musicals and by eight years old I was recording in studios for children’s albums.
What first drew you towards being a singer?
I wanted to know more about how the voice functioned, and I was interested in discovering my own authentic sound. Being that I was in a studio setting for so long, I got very good at manipulating my voice. When I attempted to record in what I thought was my own vocal style, I felt lost. I was on a mission to discover my own voice again. Studying classically helped with this. In turn, my primary objective in teaching is to offer tools to the student so they can begin to embrace and cultivate their unique sound, and perhaps offer the world something authentic and moving.
What singers influenced you the most when you were coming up?
Sade, Elizabeth Fraser, Tori Amos, Angela McCluskey, Lauryn Hill, Sam Cooke, Rocio Durcal, Joan Sutherland… and so many more. Singers with unique, haunting, yet powerful voices.
What is your favorite vocal style to work in, or listen to?
My favorite vocal styles to record, and the ones that come most natural to me, are lush dream-pop vocals, Latin folk, and classical styles. I listen to all styles of music.
You often sing in Spanish, including in your gorgeous recent video “La cuna due me vio racer (The cradle of my birth)” about Guatemala. How does Latin American music of culture inform your work as a singer?
Thanks! My parent immigrated from Guatemala when they were pretty young and assimilated quickly into North American culture. Surprisingly, besides the language, I was not versed in Latin music. I felt strongly that I needed to invest time in getting to know the history and poetry of Guatemala. I connected with it instinctively and realized the missing piece I needed to reinforce my artistic purpose and growth. The singing is more raw, from the heart, and visceral – not as strategic and placed. This makes it more liberating.
You’re a Grammy Award winner – can you tell us about the project that won the award for you and your involvement?
It was a children’s a cappella album for the Maranatha label, where we recorded mostly spiritual-based songs with a small group of other wonderfully talented young singers. We were kids who loved the process of layering our voices and harmonizing. We spent that entire summer In the studio. This experience was instrumental in instilling healthy work ethic and discipline in me and validating my career path. The award was well deserved.
You hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees – what were some of the most memorable elements (individuals, performances, epiphanies) of your own voice education?
I studied classical and it was well worth the hours of training to build a strong foundation. I was lacking a solid technique and could no longer rely on talent. Both undergrad and graduate experiences were what I needed to hone my craft. I don’t believe I would be as comfortable with my voice had I not put myself in such a vulnerable position. It can be quite competitive. I was surrounded by others who had the same drive and passion for performance as I did.
What do you have on tap for the future?
I am currently invested in orchestrating traditional marimba songs for the purpose of giving them cinematic dimension, along with writing new music based on Latin American poetry and short stories. The ideal outcome is to produce short films.
What made you want to start teaching?
I like to share what I have learned. I like to be there when students experience a breakthrough. It’s important to create a safe environment for students, especially considering that the vocal instrument is an emotional and complex one.
What do you like best about teaching at Point Blank?
The environment is inviting and modern. The staff is so accommodating and helpful, with a healthy balance of professionalism and casual flexibility. The students are motivated, talented, and willing to put in the work!
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