Ronnie Dunn Comments on Why It’s Difficult to Sing Well at the CMA Awards
Wednesday night's (Nov. 5) CMA Awards broadcast featured performances by the top acts in country music, but many viewers noted that some sounded ... off. In a post to Facebook, Ronnie Dunn explained why it's so difficult for singers to perform well on live television.
Nobody's ever accused Dunn of not being able to sing live, but he admits he's had his off moments on TV. "Singing (on pitch) on awards shows and live television is challenging. I've laid my share of off pitch eggs," he writes.
"The audio people have countless acts to mix in quick order, one after the other. Great emphasis is put on camera angles (blocking) during pre-show 'sound checks,'" he adds. "Almost every act is accustomed to different live audio playback systems (monitors). You, understandably don't have a choice on multi act shows. You get what you get. As a singer, your pitch is determined by what you hear. In an arena the sound reverberates / swims.... so, if you aren't hearing accurately you will most likely be 'off.' Emphasis on sound quality is a fairly recent dynamic."
On top of performers not being able to hear properly onstage, there are also logistical complications. "The sound is often mixed from a mobile facility outside," Dunn explains. "By nature, television audio can be very unforgiving."
Dunn points to one act as a standout on the CMA Awards broadcast, noting that using your own gear can make all the difference. "I thought it was interesting that the Doobie Brothers (historically, a great rock act) sounded so good," he writes. "Michael McDonald is one of the best vocalists in all of music but they all sounded spot on. I bet they had their own onstage, guru sound engineer. ALSO, THEY ARE JUST THAT GOOD!"
Though the legendary country singer knows better than most that technical problems can scuttle a performance, he also questions what role talent played in the equation at the 2014 CMAs.
"At the end of the day, some of these people can sing and some kinda struggle. Conway Twitty, Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard ... Nat King Cole, Sinatra," he states. "Name 5 exceptional singers from last night's performance?"
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