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Exclusive Interview with Award-Winning Vocal Coach Kathleen “Katie” Riggs

Considered one of LA’s finest vocal coaches, Kathleen has been teaching voice for over twenty-two years.

Kathleen teaches, develops and unfolds the voices of everyday singers as well as the industry’s finest. What attracts many students to Riggs is her ability to sing. She sings the technique she teaches and demonstrates exactly how to apply it. It’s this particular skill that gives her a unique advantage over most vocal teachers. It allows her to teach others quickly, effectively, with clarity, with authority and a tremendous amount of support.

This technique maximizes your vocal abilities allowing you to sing anything! Pop to Opera, Rock to Gospel, Jazz to R&B and Musical Theatre; you should sing with a technique that allows you to relax and concentrate on performing.

Riggs has a distinctive teaching style that is honest, egoless and trademark laser-focused. She has a reputation for creating a supportive and safe atmosphere that allows her students to shine. Kathleen takes great pride in her strong work ethic—honing her craft since the age of seven—and encourages her students to do the same.

Whether you’re out-of-town, on tour, or out of the country she’s always available through Skype/Facetime/Zoom. She’s developed quite an international following of students. In addition to all across the United States, students study with her weekly online from all over the world: Poland, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Russia, Japan, Italy, Korea, Canada, Australia, Serbia, Iceland, India, France, United Kingdom.

Kathleen “Katie” Riggs has been recognized by Forbes, SAG-AFTRA, Good Day LA, American Songwriter and others for her unmatched vocal technique. As an expert in her field with over twenty years of success, Riggs has been lauded by world-class superstar clients such as Dua Lipa, Ozzy Osbourne, Madison Beer, Saweetie, Ezra Koenig of Vampire WeekendCHRVCHESRashida Jones, Nadya Tolokonnikova (Pussy Riot) and acclaimed managers and producers such as Scooter Braun, Rodney Jerkins, Ron “Feemster”, Trevor Lawrence, Quincy Jones, Linda Perry, Corey Rooney and Dianne Warren to name a few.

Riggs’ teaching method was originally created by her father, Seth Riggs, the famed vocal coach. This teaching and singing method has worked for many of the world’s best singers. It’s been studied by over 200 Grammy winners, including Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Cher, Tina Turner, Josh Groban, Barbara Streisand, Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Julio Iglesias, Michael Bolton, Luther Vandross and Madonna.

Kathleen is experienced in vocal therapy and has rehabilitated the voices of those who have undergone surgery due to polyps.  With proper singing technique and development, your voice is sure to sustain the likes of rehearsals, tours, recording sessions, and live performances.  Her lineage connects her to a rich history of great voices of the past generation. Now, she is developing and inspiring the next generation of singers to new heights, continuing the legacy.

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Hi Katie – welcome to OLC! So for everyone out there can you tell us a bit about yourself and a bit about your career?

Hi guys, thank you so much for taking the time out to interview me! I’m a vocal coach based in Los Angeles but I travel all over the world for lessons and workshops and teach online as well. I’ve been coaching singers of all genres for over twenty-two years since I was seventeen years old.

So how did your musical journey begin and how did you go down this path?

My musical journey began in a very musical home. My Mom sang opera and met my Dad in a singing lesson and together they had five kids including me. Music was always around. I sang Classical and Musical Theatre with my Mom and would sing basically every other genre with my Dad. They could tell I was a singer from very early on so they put me into singing lessons with them both. I started training in the technique I teach at the age of seven. While kids in high school were preparing to go to college my Dad suggested and greatly encouraged me to share what I had already been learning and developing for many years at that point. I started sitting in with him, learning the why and how of the technique and he sent me my very first client at seventeen. And that’s my story in a nutshell. I’ve been training clients as my sole career since then. It’s been amazing. My name has caught a sort of fire in rooms I’m not even in. I feel very blessed and lucky that I’m able to be of service in this way.

You’ve worked with some incredible artists, who was someone you loved working with and was the most memorable?

I love working with Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend. I wasn’t familiar with their music until we started working together. I started training him and attending his shows warming him up before going on stage. I fell in love with his music. They’re now one of my most favorite bands to see live. They’re just so good, energetic and fun. And Ezra is very easy to work with and definitely puts in all the practice hours making each performance masterful.

Another artist that’s been really fun to work with is Ozzy Osbourne. I feel very lucky to be in his orbit carrying on tradition as he was someone that trained with my father a long time ago. We work vocal technique but also talk about life, spirituality, family and performing. He’s the Prince Of Darkness but also a beautiful sweet man. Don’t tell!

You worked with Dua Lipa, how did that come about?

I worked with Dua right before she completely catapulted into super stardom. We worked on finishing up a few songs of hers in the recording studio and then taking her first album into the live performance realm. Tap management (her management at the time) reached out to me to help her voice sustain her first shows and to build up her confidence to do so. The tips and tricks are for a lifetime. You’d never guess she could ever be shy because she’s grown into herself so much since. She’s humble, cool, warm, so talented and just a gem to work with her. She still sends me clients to this day.

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What has made you so successful and set you apart from the rest of the vocal coaches out there?

I think what’s made me so successful is my own singing and ability to give example after example for the singer to hear in my voice what they’ll do in their voice. I provide a really easy comfortable way of explaining how the voice works and I’m able to translate that to every student in a way that they understand and feel it in their own voices. I show up, I’m on time, I’m eager to help, I support and encourage mostly without ego 😉 I really just want to help.

What the best advice you can give to someone who wants to improve their vocals?

The best advice I give to someone who wants to improve their vocals is to find a coach that can show you in their voice what they want you to do in your voice (thru vocal exercise and song). You want to find a voice teacher that makes you feel encouraged and supported and that challenges you to grow. You also want the real time feedback that you won’t find by looking up vocal exercises via YouTube or Spotify. You could be doing something totally wrong or right, not know it and just end up really confused.

What makes your job worth it at the end of the day?

I love helping singers build in their instruments so that their range feels comfortable, connected, free and the same quality of sound from the lowest parts of their range to the highest and with confidence! To see and hear the lights go on is what makes my job a joy.

What or who inspires you?

The human experience and sharing of vulnerability inspires me. How we’re all connected with our strengths and weaknesses and somehow we come together and make this life thing work. Oh, did you mean musically? Any new artist willing to show up and share themselves over and over again bringing passion and care to what they do.

What does the rest of 2022 hold for you?

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The rest of 2022 holds finishing strong with my students achieving their vocal goals, a couple voice workshops, training for a 1/2 marathon and finding the time to rest and chill before the New Year!

Again, thanks for taking the time. Wishing you guys an awesome rest of 2022!


Socials: @neillfrazer


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