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Tippin embraces "This Kiss"

By Tom Netherland, October 2000

Page 2...

"I was up at the store (Tippin's gun store in Smithville, Aaron Tippin's Outdoors) this mornin, and there's a station out of Sparta (Tenn.), and they play the old classics," Tippin says. "Boy, we sat there this morning, 5:30 in the morning, listening to that and I was thinking, 'now that's country music.'"

Yet, the onetime RCA Records proudly country artist was deemed too country by some at that label. Shortly after the label signed him, Tippin says, the label sent him to a vocal coach. It seemed his vocals has too much nasal twang, therefore he was too country.

"They tried to send me to a voice coach so that I wouldn't sing so country," Tippin says. "I won't mention their names, but they told me that I needed to quit singing through my nose so much and to sing down in my throat deeper."

Tippin mostly complied, much to the detriment of his vocal cords. Coupled with not singing naturally, he says that he would often yell above his tractor's noise without giving thought to the possible damage that that was causing. Instead, he unknowingly exacerbated the problem.

"A couple years ago, I had some real vocal problems," Tippin says. "I lost my voice."

As with many of his peers like Kathy Mattea, Tippin visited a doctor at Nashville's Vanderbilt's Voice Clinic.

"They said I'd damaged one of my vocal cords, that I'd ruptured a blood vessel on my vocal cord."

Tippin, who was in the middle of a tour, decided with his doctors to delay any operational work until the tour's end. In lieu of an immediate medical procedure, doctors taught Tippin some vocal exercises to help his cords heal.

"Reluctantly, I said okay. So, they took me in there, and (the doctor) said, 'can't you feel the resonance in your cheeks and face?'" Tippin says.

He didn't.

"He said, 'Aaron, you need to move your voice up in your face, right there right around your nose. That's where you need to be singing. That way if you sing up in the top of your voice, that keeps the damage down on your vocal cords. Because when you're putting all that pressure directly down in your voice, you're putting more strain on your vocal cords.

"So, I started going back to singing like I did 10 years ago before they told me not to, and now I don't have any problems holding up during a show, and I learned that singing is not drag racing," Tippin says. "You don't wind her up and sing for 3 minutes and 30 seconds as hard as you can possibly go."

As a result of the change in singing style, Tippin's voice is in a much lower key on his new album.

"I picked the lowest possible key that I could because I thought it sounded kind of unique down there. It sounded different," he says. "Thanks to the Vanderbilt Voice Clinic, they probably added 20 years to this ol' career. When I first came to town, everybody was saying, 'well, he's a little too country for country music.'"

No more.

"I probably shouldn't say (this), but I do think (it's) true: I don't think there's as much country music fans at the helm as there used to be," Tippin says. "Years ago, I think the execs were lovers of country music and were very, very proud of it."

But no one questions Tippin's love for the music.

"Country music is an art form," he says.

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