Carpool Karaoke

My voice coaching studio is a place where clients from all walks of life are invited to enter into their full voice, whatever that means to them. In the course of our work together, I encourage them to be playful, embodied, tender, wild and frequently LOUD.

When clients really cut loose and make big sounds, they frequently suggest that the police could be at the door any minute. The police! The fact that full expression could be considered illegal tells me just how vocally suppressed most of us are.

One of the conundrums many clients face is where and how to practice their newfound vocal freedom. Even singing songs in a normal tone can be problematic in an apartment, condo or townhouse setting. The shower offers great acoustics, but many people feel self-conscious about making any noise in there if family members are around.

That leaves one place where people feel free to cut loose – the car.

I’ve been enjoying James Corden’s car pool karaoke segments on the Late, Late Show. Corden invites famous musicians to go for a ride with him through LA. As they drive around, they sing along to the musician’s big hits and do a little chatting. His segment with Paul McCartney took place in Paul’s old neighborhood with stops at his childhood home and the neighborhood pub where the locals were treated to a surprise concert.

When these segments first started coming out, I was skeptical. What could be interesting about watching people singing in a car? After watching a few of them, I was hooked.

Corden has tapped into a powerful shared experience. Who among us hasn’t cranked up the car stereo to sing along with an artist we admire? To witness someone doing that familiar activity in the actual presenceof the artist takes it to another level.

Corden’s child-like enthusiasm, wide open heart and beautiful singing voice are also keys to making it work. He’s a wonderful stand-in for each of us – blending awe and admiration with playful collaboration. He is a complete enthusiast — the antithesis of Hollywood cool and slick. He fully surrenders to the experience, expressing puppy-like joy one minute and sweet tears the next.

I’ve wondered for years where people will go to sing when we give up the habit of driving alone in our cars so much. Our planet can’t handle the amount of emissions we’re asking it to bear and cars are a big contributor to the problem.

I hope by the time we end up with more shared transportation, we will have gotten over our shyness of singing in public. What would it be like to have busloads of harmonizing humans making their way through our streets? Will we have subway cars designated for certain kinds of singing? Will we go to work singing in the Motown car and return home in the camp song car? What will the free improvisation car sound like on a rainy afternoon? These public spaces could come to life in a joyful way.

I do hope we get less timid about singing in public. In the meantime, we can ride – and sing –along with James Corden and his lucky passengers.

About Barbara McAfee

Barbara is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and author who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformational power of sound. Her book, Full Voice: The Art & Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Communication. The book is based on her 25 years as a voice coach, supporting people from many professions in learning how to access the full power and expression of the voice in service to their work and relationships. Barbara’s musical keynotes blend practical content, sophisticated humor, and thought-provoking questions on topics including voice, leadership, and engagement. She was “the band” for Margaret Wheatley’s Women’s Leadership Revival Tour, which visited 15 North American cities. She also appears with authors Parker Palmer and Peter Block. Barbara has produced seven CD's of mostly original music and is founder of the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir in the Twin Cities. She lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
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5 Responses to Carpool Karaoke

  1. laura Kinkead says:

    (: love it!

  2. Janet M. Bergman says:

    My cousin sent me a vinyl bumper sticker from AZ which I proudly display on my back bumper: “CAUTION, Driver Singing.” Singing enhances my driving experience.

  3. says:

    Hello Barbara, I loved this blog and wanted to tell you I shared a copy of Full Voice with my grandson’s speech teacher. I got the idea to tell her about your book and she said one of her fellow speech clinicians specializes working with singers who have speech problems. Thank you for shining your light so brightly in our world which is so needed now❤️ Blessings and love, Linda Lundquist

    Sent from my iPad


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