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As Drake Winds Up His Six-Week European Tour, His Voice Is Better Than Ever

What's his secret? A straight-talking vocal coach from Jan Smith Studios.

LONDON, March 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- If you happen to catch a glimpse of Drake off-stage, you might be surprised by what you see.  Sure, he mingles with the crowds and hangs out at after-parties, but he's also working out, watching what he eats, hydrating with plenty of water, and resting his voice.  That's the influence of his straight-shooting vocal coach of four years, Dionne Osborne, one of the tenured vocal coaches at Atlanta-based Jan Smith Studios.  By all accounts, Osborne's training, education and support are working their magic, with the press, audiences and Drake's peers taking notice.

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"Miguel [Grammy Award-winning R&B singer who opened for Drake during last fall's U.S. tour] came up to me after a show and said, 'I've listened to what you've done working with Drake and it's amazing,'" recalls Osborne. "When Drake hears that from his peers, it makes him want to work even harder.  During the show, it's all Drake – just him and his voice for 90 minutes.  When you're using your voice like that, you really need to nurture and protect it."

Drake, a Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum recording artist, got his wake-up call when he started feeling the wear-and-tear on his voice prior to his 2010 tour.  His management called renowned vocal coach Jan Smith, owner of Jan Smith Studios, and coach to such national recording artists as Usher, Justin Bieber, Rob Thomas, The Band Perry, and dozens more.  When the call came in, Smith was already obligated to the Justin Bieber tour, but welcomed adding Drake to the studio's client roster and felt confident sending Osborne. That was four years ago, and Osborne has been on every major tour with Drake since. 

"I was originally brought in to help with tour preparation," says Osborne, "but soon I was providing education about health and nutrition, as well as establishing vocal maintenance and endurance protocols.  Drake is extremely smart and quickly got the connection between his ecosystem and how everything he does affects his voice."   Osborne also put Drake on a vocal warm-up and cool-down routine based on a set of vocal exercises developed by "Mama Jan," as Smith's clients call her.  Drake said he felt the benefits right away.

"The work I do with Dionne is beyond integral to my career," says Drake. "Every tour cycle that we work through, I see massive growth in my vocals, endurance, breathing, and overall performance.  Rap concerts have a stereotype," Drake continues, "but Dionne has brought my showmanship to a superior level, giving me the confidence to tour for massive audiences around the world."

Osborne, having worked under the Jan Smith moniker for over 15 years, carries Mama Jan's handprint in her work; accordingly, Jan has trained all of her staff to be more than vocal coaches -- they are trusted advisors.

"We tell performers what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear," explains Smith, who can be seen doing just that in Justin Bieber's documentary-style movie, Never Say Never, when the young star began losing his voice.  "We are honest in an industry that isn't always forthcoming, and our clients know we have their back." 

"Drake and I have a mutual respect for each other," adds Osborne. "Because he wants to continue evolving as a consummate entertainer, we talk about many things besides his voice, including song interpretation, performance, stage movement, and even songwriting," adds Osborne.

The coaching methods of Jan Smith Studios are designed for contemporary artists, many of whom have never had formal training.  "The techniques we use allow us to asses every artist's needs individually so they can get the most gain quickly," says Osborne.

Jan says she hears astounding growth in Drake's voice.  "He has a great ear, and his intonation, nuances and tone quality have gotten even better since Dionne has been working with him," says Smith.  Drake's work ethic is influencing younger rappers, too. According to Smith, the Rap/Hip Hop community is often a producer-driven community with the perspective that "the show must go on."  "That view is not always conducive to the health and longevity of the artist," says Smith. "Drake is one of the few rappers with a vocal coach; he's cognizant of the benefits and fortunately, he has been proactive about taking care of himself."

Osborne agrees. "I think that rappers are starving for information.  It's a genre that has been under-served for too long.   My hope is for any rapper or singer to recognize that a vocal coach is not just someone to consult after you've damaged your voice, but an advocate who can help you from the beginning to become a more effective performer.  I am very happy with the changes Drake has made in his singing, and particularly in his rapping.  His delivery is much more powerful."

About Jan Smith Studios
Atlanta-based Jan Smith Studios is a state-of-the-art facility with a 10-person staff offering vocal coaching; piano, bass and guitar instruction; vocal production and recording, and full-scale artist development.  Jan and her skilled staff of vocal coaches and instructors have worked with more than 10,000 students and national recording artists, including Usher, Drake, Rob Thomas, Justin Bieber, Jill Scott, Collective Soul, Sugarland, Keyshia Cole, India Arie, Ciara, Trey Songz, The Band Perry, and several artists who are coaches or finalists on American Idol, The X-Factor and The Voice.  Jan Smith Studios has also worked with industry leaders such as Matt Serletic, Jermaine Dupri, LA Reid, Clive Davis, and Scooter Braun.  Every outstanding athlete has a coach who pushes him or her to great heights. Jan Smith Studios takes pride in offering the personal trainers for today's outstanding vocal athletes.  The studio's motto is: "We don't compromise; neither should you." For more information: and follow us on Twitter @atlvox and Facebook @

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