Vocal Points: Marie Hines-Influenced By All, Sounds Like None

OurStage artist Marie Hines has been making music for as long as she can remember, beginning to write songs at the age of twelve. The depth of her songwriting abilities, musical vision and vocal ability make for a truly breathtaking combination”both on her records and in live performance. Its clear to see why Marie has ranked high in the Best of the Best Charts on OurStage, as well as had other great success on and off the site. Marie is currently creating another five-song EP that will be released in February. We had a chance to catch up with Marie and ask her about her musical background and what has molded her into the phenomenal singer-songwriter she is today.

OS: You say you started writing songs at the age of twelve but when did you begin singing, and when did you begin formal voice training?

MH: I guess you could say I’ve always been a singer. I used to walk around my house at ages three and four belting the theme song for The Little Mermaid at the top of my lungs… My poor parents! I sang all through middle school and high school, but didn’t start formal voice lessons until my senior year in high school”I needed help preparing for my audition for the School of Music at Belmont University in Nashville. I was accepted as a Commercial Voice major at Belmont, and studied there for four years, graduating with a degree and a hefty load of vocal training under my belt.

OS: Who would you say has influenced your style of singing the most, and why were they so influential to you?

MH: To be honest, I couldn’t name one specific person! I’ve never wanted to mimic anyone else, and I’ve never listened to a vocalist with the intention of learning to sing like them. As far as vocalists go, some of my favorites are Adele (her vocal control is unbelievable), John Mayer (he is the king of singing a phrase directly into the pocket of a song), Norah Jones (I love her smoky tone and her free delivery), Ingrid Michaelson (she has a very speech-like quality to her singing style, and I love how she uses her vibrato very intentionally) and Regina Spektor (I love her creativity with words and sounds, she is an incredibly innovative vocalist). Even though I’ve never sought out any one particular vocalist for influence, I believe that we are all influenced by who we listen to, even if it’s a subconscious influence.

OS: How has your voice changed since early on in your career? How would you like it to progress more?

MH: I feel like I’ve learned that less is more. Early in my career, when I first learned to belt, I wanted to use my belt all the time. I thought that volume was power, and completely missed the mark on delivery. It took me sitting and listening to song after song of incredible vocalists to understand the importance of dynamics, emotion and phrasing. Because of that, I incorporated a softer tone in my voice, learned to utilize my head voice sound and learned how to think more about the delivery of the SONG than the sound of my voice. My goal is to continue to get better, to become more refined in delivering my songs. I feel like you’re never really “there” you know? There’s always more to learn.

OS: Your most recent EP, The Living Room Sessions, is a collection of acoustic versions of songs from your full-length album, Worth The Fight. What was your favorite part of that project?

MH: I wanted to do a project that would showcase my string quartet the same way I do in live shows, so the production on The Living Room Sessions is only piano, string quartet and vocal. My favorite part about creating this was the challenge that came behind taking songs that were fully produced and stripping them down. I had to learn to be OK with the fact that they sounded so bare and so open. It really revitalized each of those songs for me (I had been carrying around some of them for two years) and I found a new way to love each of them.

OS: Of all your songs, which is the most rewarding for you to sing?

MH: Each of my songs feels like one of my children, so it’ very hard for me to pick one that is my favorite… Actually, the one I feel most invested in and connected to when I perform isn’t one of my “fun” ones, it’s one of my most heartbreaking ones. “Over You” is the last track on my record, and I wrote it at the end of a long, drawn out breakup. Every time I sing this song, I am taken back to the exact moment I wrote it. I am able to lay my heart out in front of the audience, and allow them to experience what I went through when I wrote the song. While it’s draining, it’s extremely rewarding because it’s such an intimate way to connect with a past experience.

OS: If you could duet with any one singer, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

MH: Hands down, John Mayer. I love his voice, I love his writing style, I love his delivery. It would be an absolute honor to sing with him. I actually had a dream about a year ago that I had a co-writing session with him, and woke up desperately trying to remember the song we wrote. Unfortunately, I lost it. 🙂

Make sure to check out Marie’s profile on OurStage, as well as her Web site www.MarieHines.com!