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Backing vocalists or backup singers are
singer Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist (in jazz and popular music). Singers perform music (arias, recitatives, songs, etc.) that can be sung accompaniment, with or a capp ...

singer
s who provide
vocal harmony , a barbershop quartet singing in four-part harmony at Walt Disney World The Walt Disney World Resort, also called Walt Disney World and Disney World, is an entertainment complex in Bay Lake, Florida, Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida, L ...
with the
lead vocalist The lead vocalist in popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musica ...
or other backing vocalists. In some cases, a backing vocalist may sing alone as a lead-in to the main vocalist's entry or to sing a
counter-melody 300px, Primary and secondary melody in Bach's BWV 1079 In music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural ...
. Backing vocalists are used in a broad range of
popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical training.Popular Music. (2015). ''Funk ...
,
traditional music Folk music is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and t ...

traditional music
and
world music World music is an English phrase for styles of music from non-Western countries, including quasi-traditional, intercultural, and traditional music. World music's inclusive nature and elasticity as a musical category pose obstacles to a universa ...
styles. Solo artists may employ professional backing vocalists in studio recording sessions as well as during concerts. In many
rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemical composition and the way in w ...
and
metal A metal (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
bands (e.g., the
power trio A power trio is a rock and roll band format having a lineup of electric guitar, bass guitar and drum kit (drums and cymbals), leaving out the second rhythm guitar or Musical keyboard, keyboard instrument that are used in other rock music bands tha ...
), the musicians doing backing vocals also play instruments, such as guitar, electric bass, drums or keyboards. In
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...
or
Afro-Cuban Afro-Cubans are Cubans Cubans ( es, Cubanos), are people born in Cuba or with Cuban citizenship. Cuba is a multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic, religious and national backgrounds. As a result, Cubans generally do not equate ...
groups, backing singers may play percussion instruments or shakers while singing. In some
pop Pop or POP may refer to: Places * Gregorio Luperón International Airport (IATA code POP), Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic * Pop, a tributary of the river Jijia in eastern Romania * Poppleton railway station (station code), York, England People ...
and
hip hop Hip hop or hip-hop is a culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabil ...
groups and in
musical theater Musical theatre is a form of theatre, theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through words, music, ...
, the backing singers may be required to perform elaborately choreographed dance routines while they sing through headset microphones. The style of singing used by backing singers varies according to the type of song and the genre of music the band plays. In pop and
country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social ...

country
songs, backing vocalists may perform vocal harmony parts to support the lead vocalist. In
hardcore punk Hardcore punk (often abbreviated to hardcore) is a punk rock music genre and subculture that originated in the late 1970s. It is generally faster, harder, and more aggressive than other forms of punk rock. Its roots can be traced to earlier pun ...
or
rockabilly Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll, rock 'n' roll, or rock 'n roll) is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to la ...
, other band members who play instruments may sing or shout backing vocals during the chorus (refrain) section of the songs.


Terminology

Alternative terms for backing vocalists include ''backing singers'', ''backing vocals'', ''additional vocals'' or, particularly in the United States and Canada, ''backup singers'' or sometimes ''background singers'' or ''harmony vocalists''.


Examples

While some bands use performers whose sole on-stage role is performing backing vocals, it is common for backing singers to have other roles. Two notable examples of band members who sang back-up are
The Beach Boys The Beach Boys are an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compo ...

The Beach Boys
and
The Beatles The Beatles were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compou ...

The Beatles
. The Beach Boys were well known for their close vocal harmonies, occasionally with all five members singing at once such as "
In My Room "In My Room" is a song written by Brian Wilson and Gary Usher for the American rock music, rock band (music), band The Beach Boys. It was released on their 1963 album ''Surfer Girl''. It was also released as the B-side of the "Be True to Your Sch ...

In My Room
" and "
Surfer Girl ''Surfer Girl'' is the third album by the American rock band the Beach Boys, released September 16, 1963 on Capitol Records. The album reached number 7 in the US during a chart stay of 56 weeks. This was the first album by the group for which Br ...
". The Beatles were also known for their close style of vocal harmonies – all Beatles members sang both lead and backing vocals at some point, especially
John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon; 9 October 19408 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter, musician and who achieved worldwide fame as the founder, co-songwriter, co-lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of . Lennon ...
and
Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and record and film producer who gained worldwide fame as co-lead vocalist, co-songwriter, and bassist for the Beatles The Beatles were an Englis ...

Paul McCartney
, who frequently supported each other with harmonies, often with fellow Beatle
George Harrison George Harrison (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001) was an English musician, singer-songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Sometimes called "the quiet Beatle", ...

George Harrison
joining in.
Ringo Starr Sir Richard Starkey (born 7 July 1940), better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor who achieved international fame as the drummer for the Beatles. He occasionally sang lead vocals with t ...

Ringo Starr
, while not as prominent in the role of backing singer as his three bandmates due to his distinctive voice, can be heard singing backing vocals in such tracks as "
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" is a song written by John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon; 9 October 19408 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter, musician and peace activist who achieved worldwi ...
" and "
Carry That Weight "Carry That Weight" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles The Beatles were an English Rock music, rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The group, whose best-known line-up comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and ...
". Examples of three-part harmonies by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison include " Nowhere Man", " Because", "
Day Tripper "Day Tripper" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released as a A-side and B-side, double A-side single with "We Can Work It Out" in December 1965. Written primarily by John Lennon, it was credited to the Lennon–McCartney p ...
", and "
This Boy "This Boy" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles The Beatles were an English Rock music, rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The group, whose best-known line-up comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo S ...
". The members of
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN) is a folk rock Folk rock is a hybrid music genre combining elements of folk music and rock music, which arose in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in the mid-1960s. In the U.S., folk rock emerged ...
and
Bee Gees The Bee Gees were a music group formed in 1958, featuring brothers BarryBarry may refer to: People and fictional characters * Barry (name), including lists of people with the given name, nickname or surname, as well as fictional characters ...

Bee Gees
all each wrote songs and sang back-up or lead vocals and played various instruments on their albums and various collaborations with each other.
Guitarist A guitarist (or a guitar player) is a person who plays the guitar The guitar is a fret (in the background, coloured white) and first four frets A fret is a space between two fretbars on the neck (music), neck of a stringed instrument. ...

Guitarist
John Frusciante John Anthony Frusciante (; born March 5, 1970) is an American musician best known as the guitarist of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American Rock music, rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1983. Their ...

John Frusciante
and former guitarist
Josh Klinghoffer Josh Adam Klinghoffer (born October 3, 1979) is an American musician best known for being the former guitarist for the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers from 2009 to 2019, with whom he recorded two studio albums, '' I'm with You'' (2011) and '' Th ...
of the
Red Hot Chili Peppers The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American Rock music, rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1983. Their music incorporates elements of alternative rock, funk, punk rock and psychedelic rock. The band consists of vocalist Anthony Kiedis, bassist ...

Red Hot Chili Peppers
sing nearly all backing vocals (few songs were recorded without backing vocals), often singing some parts without accompaniment from lead vocalist
Anthony Kiedis Anthony Kiedis ( ; born November 1, 1962) is an American musician and is a founding member of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Kiedis and his fellow band members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. Kiedis spent his you ...
. The band's bassist
Flea Flea, the common name for the order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, tr ...
occasionally filled in for additional vocals. Frusciante usually sang one song by himself during concerts. Another example is "No Frontiers" by
The Corrs The Corrs are an Irish family band that combine pop rock Pop rock (also typeset as pop/rock) is rock music with a greater emphasis on professional songwriting and recording craft, and less emphasis on attitude. Originating in the late 1950s ...
, which is sung by Sharon and Caroline. Other backing vocalists include rhythm guitarist Sebastien Lefebvre &
bass guitarist A bassist, or bass player, is a musician who plays a bass instrument range. Image:Mozart k545 opening.svg, 300px, tones of low (also called "deep") frequency, pitch (music), pitch and range (music), range from 16 to 256 Hz (C0 to C3) an ...
David Desrosiers Simple Plan is a Canadian rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, ...
of
pop punk Pop-punk (or punk-pop) is a rock music Rock music is a broad genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed ...
band
Simple Plan Simple Plan is a Canadian rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, ...
, guitarist
John Petrucci John Peter Petrucci (born July 12, 1967) is an American guitarist, composer and producer. He is best known as a founding member of the progressive metal Progressive metal (sometimes shortened to prog metal) is a broad melding and , combining ...

John Petrucci
of
Dream Theater Dream Theater is an American progressive metal Progressive metal (sometimes shortened to prog metal) is a broad melding and , combining the loud "aggression" and amplified -driven sound of the former with the more experimental, cerebral o ...
,
lead guitarist Lead guitar, also known as solo guitar, is a musical part for a guitar The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six string instrument, strings. It is held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or Plucked ...
Kirk Hammett Kirk Lee Hammett (born November 18, 1962) is an American musician who has been the lead guitarist and a contributing songwriter for heavy metal band Metallica Metallica is an American Heavy metal music, heavy metal band. The band was formed i ...
& bass guitarist
Robert Trujillo Robert Trujillo ( ; born October 23, 1964) is an American musician and songwriter who is the bassist A bassist, or bass player, is a musician who plays a bass instrument range. Image:Mozart k545 opening.svg, 300px, tones of low (also call ...
of
Metallica Metallica is an American heavy metal Heavy metal may refer to: *Heavy metals, a loose category of relatively dense metals and metalloids **Toxic heavy metal, any heavy metal chemical element of environmental concern *Heavy metal music, a ...

Metallica
, and guitarists
Zacky Vengeance Avenged Sevenfold (sometimes abbreviated as A7X) is an American heavy metal Heavy metal may refer to: *Heavy metals, a loose category of relatively dense metals and metalloids **Toxic heavy metal, any heavy metal chemical element of environme ...
&
Synyster Gates Brian Elwin Haner Jr. (born July 7, 1981), better known by his stage name Synyster Gates or simply Syn, is an American musician, best known for being the lead guitarist and backing vocalist of heavy metal music, heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold ...

Synyster Gates
of
heavy metal Heavy metal may refer to: *Heavy metals, a loose category of relatively dense metals and metalloids **Toxic heavy metal, any heavy metal chemical element of environmental concern *Heavy metal music, a genre of rock music **Heavy metal genres *Hea ...
band
Avenged Sevenfold Avenged Sevenfold (sometimes abbreviated as A7X) is an American Heavy metal music, heavy metal band from Huntington Beach, California, formed in 1999. The band's current lineup consists of lead vocalist M. Shadows, rhythm guitarist and backing ...
.


Lead singers who record backing vocals

In the recording studio, some lead singers record their own backing vocals by
overdubbing Overdubbing (also known as layering) is a technique used in audio recording where a passage (typically musical) has been pre-recorded, and then during replay, another part is recorded to go along with the original. The overdub process can be repeat ...
with a
multitrack recording Multitrack recording (MTR), also known as multitracking or tracking, is a method of sound recording Sound recording and reproduction is an electrical Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and mo ...
system. A multitrack recording system enables the
record producer A record producer is a recording project's creative and technical leader, commanding studio time and coaching artists, and in popular genres typically creates the song's very sound and structure.Virgil Moorefield"Introduction" ''The Producer as ...
to add many layers of recordings over top of each other. Using a multitrack system, a lead vocalist can record his or her own backing vocals, and then record the lead vocal part over top. Some lead vocalists prefer this approach because the sound of their own harmonies will blend well with their main vocal. One famous example is
Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a British singer, songwriter, record producer and lead vocalist of the rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally o ...
of
Queen Queen may refer to: Monarchy * Queen regnant, a female monarch of a Kingdom ** List of queens regnant * Queen consort, the wife of a reigning king * Queen dowager, the widow of a king * Queen mother, a queen dowager who is the mother of a reigni ...
singing the first part of "
Bohemian Rhapsody "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a song by the British rock band Queen (band), Queen. It was written by Freddie Mercury for the band's 1975 album ''A Night at the Opera (Queen album), A Night at the Opera''. The song is a six-minute suite (music), suite, ...

Bohemian Rhapsody
" himself by overdubbing.
Patrick Stump Patrick Martin Stumph (born April 27, 1984), known professionally as Patrick Vaughn Stump, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, actor and film composer. He is the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the Rock music, ro ...
of
Fall Out Boy Fall Out Boy is an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compoun ...
,
Tom DeLonge Thomas Matthew DeLonge () (born December 13, 1975) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, author, record producer, actor, and filmmaker. Possessing a distinctive nasal singing voice, he is the lead vocalist and guitarist of the rock band ...

Tom DeLonge
of
Angels and Airwaves An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supernatural By definition, a supernatural manifestation or event requires ...
,
Wednesday 13 Joseph Michael Poole (born August 12, 1976) is an American singer and musician best known by his stage name A stage name is a pseudonym used by performers and entertainers such as actors, comedians, singers, and musicians. Such titles are adop ...
in his own band and
Murderdolls Murderdolls was an American horror punk and heavy metal band, founded during 2002 in Hollywood, California. The band line-up consisted of core members Wednesday 13 and Joey Jordison, while former members included Ben Graves, Acey Slade, Eric ...
,
Ian Gillan Ian Gillan (born 19 August 1945) is an English singer and songwriter. He is the lead singer and lyricist for the rock band Deep Purple and is known for his powerful and wide-ranging singing voice. Initially influenced by Elvis Presley, Gillan ...
of
Deep Purple Deep Purple are an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, ...

Deep Purple
,
Simon Le Bon Simon John Charles Le Bon (born 27 October 1958) is an English musician, singer, songwriter and lyricist, best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the band Duran Duran and its offshoot, Arcadia. Le Bon has received three Ivor Novello Awards ...

Simon Le Bon
of
Duran Duran Duran Duran () are an English new wave New Wave may refer to: Music * New wave music, a genre of popular music that originated in the 1970s Albums * ''New Wave'' (Against Me! album) or the title song, 2007 * ''New Wave'' (The Auteurs ...

Duran Duran
and
Brad Delp
Brad Delp
of
Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States and 21st List of Unit ...
, also recorded lead and backing vocals for their albums. With the exception of a few songs on each album,
Michael Jackson Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter and dancer. Dubbed the " King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century. Over a four-decade car ...

Michael Jackson
,
Prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is also a title of nobility (often highest), often hereditary title, hereditary, in so ...
,
Dan Fogelberg Daniel Grayling Fogelberg (August 13, 1951 – December 16, 2007) was an American musician, songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. He is known for his 1980s songs, including "Longer" (1979), "Same Old Lang Syne" (1980), and "Leader of ...
,
Eddie Rabbitt Edward Thomas Rabbitt (November 27, 1941 – May 7, 1998) was an American country music Country music is a blend of popular musical forms originally found in the Southern United States and the Appalachian Mountains. The term also includes Wester ...
,
David Bowie David Robert Jones (8 January 194710 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie ( ), was an English singer-songwriter and actor. A leading figure in the music industry, Bowie is regarded as one of the most influential musicians of th ...

David Bowie
, and
Richard Marx Richard Noel Marx (born September 16, 1963) is an American adult contemporary In North American music, adult contemporary music (AC) is a form of radio-played popular music, ranging from 1960s vocal music, vocal and 1970s soft rock music to ...
sing all of the background vocals for their songs. Robert Smith of
the Cure The Cure are an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, ch ...
not only sings his own backing vocals in the studio, but also doesn't perform with backing vocalists when playing live.


Different approaches

Many
metalcore Metalcore (or metallic hardcore) is a :Fusion music genres, fusion music genre that combines elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk. As with other styles blending metal and hardcore, such as crust punk and grindcore, metalcore is noted for it ...
and some
post-hardcore Post-hardcore is a punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through t ...
bands, such as
As I Lay Dying ''As I Lay Dying'' is a 1930 Southern Gothic Southern Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction Gothic fiction, sometimes called Gothic horror in the 20th century, is a genre of literature and film that covers horror, death and at times rom ...
,
Alexisonfire Alexisonfire (pronounced "Alexis on fire") is a five-piece Canadian post-hardcore band that formed in St. Catharines, OntarioRoss, Mike.Band is a scream", Canadian Online Explorer, CANOE JAM!, April 30, 2004. Retrieved on July 17, 2007. in 2001. ...
,
Haste the Day Haste the Day was an American metalcore Metalcore (or metallic hardcore) is a :Fusion music genres, fusion music genre that combines elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk. As with other styles blending metal and hardcore, such as crust pu ...

Haste the Day
, and Silverstein feature a main vocalist who performs using
harsh vocals A death growl, or simply growl, is a vocal style (an extended vocal technique Vocalists are capable of producing a variety of extended technique sounds. These alternative singing techniques have been used extensively in the 20th century, es ...
, whilst the backing vocalist sings harmonies (
clean vocals Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist (in jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United Sta ...
) during choruses to create a contrast. Some bands, such as
Hawthorne Heights Hawthorne Heights, formerly A Day in the Life, is an American rock band from Dayton, Ohio Dayton () is the sixth-largest city in the state of Ohio and the county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or cap ...
and
Finch The true finches are small to medium-sized passerine A passerine () is any bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular ...
have the backing singers do harsh vocals to highlight specific lyrics.
Pop Pop or POP may refer to: Places * Gregorio Luperón International Airport (IATA code POP), Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic * Pop, a tributary of the river Jijia in eastern Romania * Poppleton railway station (station code), York, England People ...
and
R&B Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African ...
vocalists such as
Ariana Grande Ariana Grande-Butera () (born June 26, 1993) is an American singer and actress. Born in Boca Raton, Florida, Grande began her career at age 15 in the 2008 Broadway theatre, Broadway musical ''13 (musical), 13''. She rose to fame for her role ...

Ariana Grande
,
Mariah Carey Mariah Carey (; born March 27, 1969) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer. Known for her five-octave vocal range Vocal range is the range of pitches that a human voice The human voice consists of sound mad ...
,
Whitney Houston Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer and actress. She is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, with sales of over 200 million records worldwide. Her singing style, which was ...

Whitney Houston
,
Michael Jackson Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter and dancer. Dubbed the " King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century. Over a four-decade car ...

Michael Jackson
,
Prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is also a title of nobility (often highest), often hereditary title, hereditary, in so ...
,
Janet Jackson Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer. She is noted for her innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, as well as elaborate stage shows. Her sound and choreog ...

Janet Jackson
,
Beyoncé Knowles Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter ( ; ; born September 4, 1981) is an American singer and songwriter. Born and raised in Houston, Houston, Texas, Beyoncé performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child. She rose to fame in th ...
,
Brandy Brandy is a liquor Liquor or spirit (also hard liquor, or distilled alcohol) is an alcoholic drink produced by distillation of grains, fruits, or vegetables that have already gone through alcoholic fermentation. The distillation process co ...

Brandy
,
Faith Evans Faith Renée Jordan (; born June 10, 1973) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Born in Lakeland, Florida, and raised in New Jersey, Evans relocated to Los Angeles in 1991 for a career in the music business. After work ...
,
D'Angelo Michael Eugene Archer (born February 11, 1974), better known by his stage name D'Angelo (), is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. He is associated with the neo soul movement, along with artists like Eryk ...
,
Mary J. Blige Mary Jane Blige (; born January 11, 1971) is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, and philanthropist. Her career began in 1991 when she was signed to Uptown Records. She went on to release 13 studio albums, eight of which have achiev ...

Mary J. Blige
, and
Amerie Amerie Mi Marie Rogers (born January 12, 1980), is an American singer-songwriter author and actress. Born and raised in Washington metropolitan area, Amerie gained an appreciation of the classical arts from her mother Mi Suk Rogers and of music f ...
have become known specifically for not only recording their own backing vocals, but for arranging their own multi-tracked vocals and even developing highly complex harmonies and arrangements. When they perform live, they may have backing vocalists who impersonate their voices.


Unusual backing vocal styles

Some bands use backing vocals in order to contrast with the lead singer who may be performing an unusual vocal technique. For example,
Brian "Head" Welch Brian Philip Welch (born June 19, 1970), also known by his stage name Head, is an American musician, singer and songwriter. He is one of the guitarists and founding member of the nu metal band Korn and his solo project Love and Death (band), Lo ...
, the
lead guitarist Lead guitar, also known as solo guitar, is a musical part for a guitar The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six string instrument, strings. It is held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or Plucked ...
of the band Korn, performs backing vocals on several songs, and notably on the song "Ball Tongue", he screams the chorus while lead vocalist Jonathan Davis sings incomprehensible scat singing, scat vocals. Similarly, the Canadian deathcore group Despised Icon uses two vocalists, one performing screams and another performing low, growling death grunts who alternate, and sometimes sing in unison to highlight certain lyrics. In rap music, a background rapper who chants and rhymes to support the main artist is often referred to as hype man.


Career paths

Working as a backing singer can give a vocalist the onstage experience and vocal training they need to develop into a lead vocalist. A number of lead vocalists such as Ace Frehley,
Richard Marx Richard Noel Marx (born September 16, 1963) is an American adult contemporary In North American music, adult contemporary music (AC) is a form of radio-played popular music, ranging from 1960s vocal music, vocal and 1970s soft rock music to ...
,
Mariah Carey Mariah Carey (; born March 27, 1969) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer. Known for her five-octave vocal range Vocal range is the range of pitches that a human voice The human voice consists of sound mad ...
, Cher, Gwen Stefani, Pink (singer), Pink,
Whitney Houston Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer and actress. She is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, with sales of over 200 million records worldwide. Her singing style, which was ...

Whitney Houston
, Phil Collins, Sheryl Crow, Trisha Yearwood, Dave Grohl, Jerry Only, Jerry Cantrell, Jason Newsted, Dee Dee Ramone, and Elton John, learned their craft as backing singers, or singing backing vocals as part of a choir.


Uncredited backing vocals

Notable uncredited background vocals appear in the following songs: *
John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon; 9 October 19408 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter, musician and who achieved worldwide fame as the founder, co-songwriter, co-lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of . Lennon ...
and
Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and record and film producer who gained worldwide fame as co-lead vocalist, co-songwriter, and bassist for the Beatles The Beatles were an Englis ...

Paul McCartney
performed on the Rolling Stones' "We Love You". * Brian Jones on the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine (song), Yellow Submarine" *Patti Labelle on Kanye West's "Roses" from the album ''Late Registration''. She said the liner notes were already printed when she lent her vocals to the track. *Ronnie Spector on Eddie Money's "Take Me Home Tonight (song), Take Me Home Tonight", from the Ronettes' 1963 hit "Be My Baby". * "The Wallflower (Dance with Me, Henry), Roll with Me, Henry" by Etta James includes Richard Berry (musician), Richard Berry, author of "Louie Louie", performing the role of "Henry". * Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home to Me" has vocal responses by Lou Rawls matching Cooke word for word and note for note. * Mick Jagger performs background vocals on Carly Simon's recording of "You're So Vain", which led to the apparently erroneous theory that the song was about Jagger. * Howlin' Wolf sings on Koko Taylor's version of "Wang Dang Doodle", which Wolf had recorded previously. * Jimmy Reed's wife, Mary "Mama" Reed, sings unison harmony on many of his songs, including two of his biggest hits, "Big Boss Man (song), Big Boss Man" and "Bright Lights, Big City (song), Bright Lights, Big City". * Dean Friedman's UK hit "Lucky Stars" features Denise Marsa. * Jonathan Richman's "The Neighbors" features Jody Ross. * Andrew Gold's "Never Let Her Slip Away" features harmony vocals from
Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a British singer, songwriter, record producer and lead vocalist of the rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally o ...
. * Rockwell (musician), Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" featured backing vocals by Jermaine Jackson and
Michael Jackson Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter and dancer. Dubbed the " King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century. Over a four-decade car ...

Michael Jackson
. * "Bad Blood (Neil Sedaka song), Bad Blood" by Neil Sedaka features backing vocals by Elton John. * Usher (entertainer), Usher's "Superstar" feature vocals from
Faith Evans Faith Renée Jordan (; born June 10, 1973) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Born in Lakeland, Florida, and raised in New Jersey, Evans relocated to Los Angeles in 1991 for a career in the music business. After work ...
. *
Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and record and film producer who gained worldwide fame as co-lead vocalist, co-songwriter, and bassist for the Beatles The Beatles were an Englis ...

Paul McCartney
can be heard as one of the background revellers on Donovan's 1966 "Mellow Yellow". (Contrary to popular belief, it is not McCartney whispering the "quite rightly" answering lines in the chorus, but rather Donovan himself). * Babyface (musician), Babyface contributed background vocals on "Tears" by the Isley Brothers, a song he wrote for their 1996 album ''Mission to Please''. * Mýa performs background vocals on "Get None", the debut single released by singer Tamar Braxton. * Joe (singer), Joe performed background vocals on SWV's single "Use Your Heart", although he was credited for vocal arrangement and vocal production on the song. *
Brandy Brandy is a liquor Liquor or spirit (also hard liquor, or distilled alcohol) is an alcoholic drink produced by distillation of grains, fruits, or vegetables that have already gone through alcoholic fermentation. The distillation process co ...

Brandy
sang background vocals on the remixed version of Luther Vandross' ''Nights in Harlem'', which was remixed by the former's longtime associate Rodney Jerkins. * Al B. Sure! contributed background vocals to Guy (band), Guy's song "You Can Call Me Crazy". According to producer Teddy Riley (producer), Teddy Riley, the song was originally planned for Sure!'s debut album ''In Effect Mode'' but the song never made the final cut. * Mint Condition (band), Mint Condition frontman Stokley Williams performs background vocals on "The Curse Of The Gifted", from Wale (rapper), Wale's 2013 album ''The Gifted (album), The Gifted''. *Eric Roberson performs background vocals on Cam'ron's song "Tomorrow" from his 2002 album, ''Come Home with Me''. * Anelia performs vocals on Andrea (Bulgarian singer), Andrea's 2014 song ''Най-добрата'' (Nay-dobrata). * Jamie Foxx performs vocals on
Ariana Grande Ariana Grande-Butera () (born June 26, 1993) is an American singer and actress. Born in Boca Raton, Florida, Grande began her career at age 15 in the 2008 Broadway theatre, Broadway musical ''13 (musical), 13''. She rose to fame for her role ...

Ariana Grande
's 2015 single "Focus (Ariana Grande song), Focus". * Ina Wroldsen performs vocals on Calvin Harris's and Disciples (production team), Disciples's 2015 song "How Deep Is Your Love (Calvin Harris and Disciples song), How Deep Is Your Love". * Iselin Solheim performs vocals on Alan Walker (music producer), Alan Walker's 2015 song "Faded (Alan Walker song), Faded", and his 2016 song "Sing Me to Sleep". * Emily Warren performs vocals on The Chainsmokers 2017 single "Paris (The Chainsmokers song), Paris". * Mary Mary performs background vocals on "Yeah" by Yolanda Adams from her 1999 album ''Mountain High... Valley Low''. * Boyz II Men performs background vocals on Johnny Gill's track "I Got You" from his 1993 album ''Provocative (album), Provocative''. * Jodeci star JoJo Hailey and
Mary J. Blige Mary Jane Blige (; born January 11, 1971) is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, and philanthropist. Her career began in 1991 when she was signed to Uptown Records. She went on to release 13 studio albums, eight of which have achiev ...

Mary J. Blige
's sister LaTonya Blige performs vocals on the song "You Bring Me Joy (Mary J. Blige song), You Bring Me Joy" performed by her sister Mary J. Blige from Blige's 1994 release ''My Life (Mary J. Blige album), My Life''. * Johnny Gill performs background vocals on Pebbles (singer), Pebbles' song "Always" from her Always (Pebbles album), 1990 album of the same name. *Luther Vandross performs background vocals on BeBe & CeCe Winans' song "Searching for Love (It's Real)" from the 1991 album ''Different Lifestyles''. *Cassandra Lucas of Changing Faces (group), Changing Faces performs vocals on the track "Special Girl" recorded by Donell Jones from his 2006 album ''Journey of a Gemini''. *R. Kelly performs background vocals on Changing Faces (group), Changing Faces' hit single "Stroke You Up" from their Changing Faces (Changing Faces album), 1994 eponymous debut album, which originally written and produced by Kelly. *Olivia Newton-John performs an uncredited background vocal on the John Denver song "Fly Away (John Denver song), Fly Away." *Jennifer Hudson performed background vocals Tyrese Gibson, Tyrese's hit song "Shame (Tyrese song), Shame" from his 2015 album ''Black Rose (Tyrese album), Black Rose''. *Sheena Easton performs uncredited vocals on the
Prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is also a title of nobility (often highest), often hereditary title, hereditary, in so ...
song "U Got the Look." *Xscape (group), Xscape member and star LaTocha Scott performs background vocals on the song "Down Time" by former The Temptations, Temptations member Theo Peoples (sometimes credited as Theo) from his 2000 solo debut album of the same name. *Jagged Edge (American group), Brian & Brandon Casey of the group Jagged Edge (American group), Jagged Edge performed background vocals on Case (singer), Case's track "Missing You (Case song), Missing You", which originally appeared on the Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (soundtrack), soundtrack to the 2000 Eddie Murphy film ''Nutty Professor II: The Klumps'' then included as the opening track on his 2001 album ''Open Letter (Case album), Open Letter'', but they are not appeared on the liner notes and on the album.


See also

*List of backing groups *Nebenstimme *Vocaloid, VOCALOID *''20 Feet from Stardom'' (2013 documentary film on backing singers)


References


External links


R.E.S.P.E.C.T - The Art of Backing Vocals
(BBC Radio 4 programme) {{Music industry Occupations in music Singing