Libby Lavella is a vocal coach, vocal producer, Grammy-nominated singer and recipient of a B.A. in linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Her diverse client base has included singers, musicians, artists, actors, CEOs and physicians. her training as a linguist has allowed her to help clients like Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman recover from vocal-cord surgery. Having reclaimed his confidence as well as his voice, Himmelman thereafter recorded a new album. “I can honestly say that Libby restored my faith in my ability to sing without pain or strain,” he says.
The ability to sing without pain or strain is something Lavella perhaps appreciates more than most because she herself is a recording artist and working singer. As a singer, her credits include backup vocals on “Te Perdi,” the debut single from Grammy-nominated artist Gustavo Galindo, for which she received her Grammy nomination. She was a featured vocalist on the Universal Curious George movies “Halloween Special” and and lent backup vocals to “Swings Into Spring.” Lavella has also sung with Interscope act Smash Mouth, Prince associates Wendy & Lisa, jazz-fusion guitarist Frank Gambale and singer Kate Ceberano. She indulges her love of arranging harmonies as a member of a duo called The Amber. A recent gig found her and musical partner Ryland Shelton performing atop Southern California’s Mt. Baldy as part of the Big Horn Music Collective, a three-day celebration of American roots music.
As a vocal coach, Lavella’s credits span the film “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (working with actor Mark Webber), the CW pilot “Joey Dakota” (handling vocal production for actor Craig Horner and Amber Stevens) and MTV’s “Rock the Cradle”. She’s also coached Chrysalis songwriter Julianna Raye, Wendy Melvoin, Quincy Jones protégés Blush, girl group Drama Drama, Beck keyboardist Brian LeBarton, Drew Taubenfeld, Avril Lavigne guitarist Devin Bronson, Vine superstar Andrew B. “King Bach” Bachelor and Daniel French, multi-instrumentalist for the Chicano alt-folk band Las Cafeteras. Albums by Seal, Ricky Martin and Robi Draco Rosa have also benefited from her production co-ordination.
In the studio she addresses issues like the singer’s vocal strength and stamina, the key and melody of the song. Lavella’s readiness with this aid suggests her attention to the singer’s comfort level. “I rely on the intuition I’ve developed over years of being the person on the other side of the glass,” she says. “It can be daunting, and if you haven’t been there – and continue to put yourself there – you just can’t relate.”
“It’s my responsibility to cut through any technique phobia so the singer can connect fully to the song,” Lavella says. “Mastering drills and interpreting a song involve different sides of the brain. I want to keep both sides flexed.”
Lavella’s empathetic approach to her clients’ performance and understanding of the linguistic mechanisms that allow us to vocalize have made her a formidable resource for singers with a wide variety of needs.