Chris Burke’s velvet vocals combine contemporary neo-soul/pop with the classic sounds of Stax and Motown. Having grown up in Henderson, North Carolina, then Birmingham, Alabama, he honed his vocal skills at Emory University in Atlanta where he served as lead in his a cappella group, with whom he toured and recorded 3 full length albums. After college, he performed on stages at Six Flags Over Georgia for 5 years, including country shows, a 90s pop review, and a full band show. While in Atlanta, he was also chosen out of over 6500 vocalists to be a part of the Today Show’s version of American Idol called Today Show’s Superstars in 2003, where he performed and was featured on national and local television and radio numerous times.
The Atlanta and the Today Show experiences springboarded him to the musical mecca that is Nashville where he continues to appear on stages all over the city. His soul band with producer/bass player Bobby King has performed at many local Nashville venues, including a weekly residency at a local venue. He has released several recording projects, including four full length albums of both original material and covers, as well as a handful of singles, as a solo artist and part of an electronic duo called ‘The Astronauts,’ and as a featured artist (and topline writer) for many producers from all over the world.
Below, this true pro of the industry tells us why he likes to do vocal warmups in the shower and how his goals have evolved as he grew as an artist.
Tell us about your singing journey. How did you get into singing?
I have been singing for as long as I can remember. I think my first time singing in public was Kumbaya with my mom in church when I was probably 6 years old. I started actively pursuing a career in Atlanta and then jumped further into it here in Nashville.
What’s your singing dream? Any major goals?
My dream keeps evolving as I get older and further along in my career. Everything used to depend on a record deal and huge stardom. Now, though, I am getting to a point where I am singing/recording/writing/performing full time, and I am able to live as a musician more so than ever before. So, for me, that is achieving a lifelong goal.
What are your upcoming releases?
I have a soul Christmas album I am releasing in 2018, as well as another EP with my Electronic Soul duo, The Astronauts. And I am always writing toplines and features, so I have a ton of singles and projects happening as well. My latest one came out December 8th – ESH feat. Chris Burke – Extraordinary.
Is there a particular warm up process you have before recording?
Thankfully, I am singing and recording almost every single day, so my warm up process isn’t quite as hardcore as it used to be. I have a few different methods, but some low-key scales and vocalizing beforehand usually does the trick. It’s even better in the shower, because the steam helps loosen my voice up.
Tell us about your songwriting process – is there a particular way you tackle the topline?
First of all, I have to make sure the track is something that gets me jazzed up, and if it is, I can usually find some sort of melody right away. Then I just go with whatever lyrics start to swim around in my head. I try to find clever ways to express common themes and ideas, so if something seems cheesy or something I have heard a million times before I usually stay away from it. There is something amazing about hearing lyrics that seem so familiar (almost nostalgic) but are said in a way you’ve never heard before, and I aim for that.
What’s your biggest success to date?
I have had success in so many different ways, from writing a song that makes me get up and dance or gives me chills and makes me wonder how the heck did that come out of ME, to performing for crowds of hundreds of people that give me a standing ovation! I consider making music every day a HUGE success for me. I have had songs that have charted in Germany and Russia and Taiwan and all over the place, and multiple songs that have been streamed in the 6 digit amounts, plus I have released 4 full length albums, an EP, and more singles than I can count. So, my biggest success to date is to be exactly where I am right now, and still consistently heading upwards.
What’s your favourite record that you have performed on?
On my album of soul covers called ‘Soul Music’, I recorded a Donny Hathaway tune called I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know and I really got to let loose on it. There’s so much pain and emotion and craziness in Donny’s version, and I was able to channel a bit of it in my own way. There’s a certain energy that comes from performing live on stage that is hard to replicate in the studio, but I really feel like I was able to bring that energy to it when we recorded it.
Who would you most like to work with, and why?
I work in so many different styles and genres of music, but as far as the dance/EDM I work on, I would love to work with Zedd. So much of his work creates such a huge and amazing feeling and emotion when I hear it, and I would love to be able to create something together. His work with Lady Gaga and even Ariana Grande has rocked my world. It’s big and bold, and it reminds me of the old school dance I grew up with of Hex Hector and Thunderpuss.
Which artists do you find inspiring? Why?
There are so many artists I adore and find huge inspiration from. There are some artists that are based in Nashville that I follow and I am good friends with that inspire me so much, like Hannah Blaylock, Ruby Amanfu, and Jenn Grinels. There is so much talent in these ladies and so much drive, and I am inspired by them every day.
What are your top 5 favourite records of all time?
Listen Without Prejudice by George Michael
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You by Aretha Franklin
Nick of Time by Bonnie Raitt
Rainbow by Kesha
I know I’ll be thinking of answers to this all day and wishing I had added them to the list 🙂
Do you have a favourite microphone? If so, why?
I have used a Studio Projects C1 that I have loved, but I just got a new Bluebird and I love it. It handles the lows and highs really well.
How did you find singing jobs before Vocalizr?
I have been a studio vocalist around town here in Nashville for about 12 years, and I have always written music as well as sing and record cover songs. So, any work I had before Vocalizr came from word of mouth or constantly emailing people my music. Vocalizr has definitely made life easier!
Have you made new connections through Vocalizr? Has it opened any doors for you?
Absolutely. I have made a ton of great connections through Vocalizr. I have been able to work with certain producers multiple times and create long-term relationships. And, I have had around 30 dance/EDM tracks released over the past couple years, and a lot have come through this site. So, what started as a fun and creative expression has really become way more than that, and I am able to work on my craft every single day!
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what are 3 things you couldn’t live without?
A music player. my pets. a pen and paper (if I can consider that one thing :))