• We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks. That's what connects us--that we're all broken, all beautifully imperfect.

    Emilio Estevez

  • Inspired by Kintsugi the Japanese tradition and art of repairing broken ceramics by using gold to mend, I commence on a 3 part series on the cracked and broken voice. It is a complex subject. The Japanese believe 


    When something has suffered
    and has history
    it becomes more beautiful.

    I agree. As much as we need technique and polishing and a good healthy tone, we also need freedom to deeply express and explore sound. We need the courage to allow our cracks to be exposed and our darkness to come to light.

  • So, in the next weeks I would like to explore the cracked and broken voice, our fears and our attraction. What's behind it? How can we mend the cracks while still staying deeply authentic to our signature sound? How can we explore the deeper layers and the rugged terrains without losing the finely tuned control we need to have as singers and speakers in front of big audiences?

    Why do we personally not want a cracked voice, yet, are still so deeply moved by singers who expose their cracks and breaks? People like Tom Waits, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Macy Gray, Rod Stewart, Johnny Rzeznik, Stevie Nick, Brian Johnson and many more.

    And yet, although we love Tom Waits we were saddened to watch Whitney Houston's voice crumble. Like seeing the most precious gem become shattered.

    Truth be, we are deeply moved on a human level by those singers who live for years singing in the cracks and crevices. They are like a great piece of "Kintsugi" pottery: they manage to transport fragility and strength. They expose to us the fragile deep broken sides of their lives and meld it with gold.

  • We are touched by their courage. They expose the bittersweet that we all carry inside not only via the lyrics and words, they dare to expose the wounds in soundprints. We intuitively sense how difficult it is to tune and carry melodies with the gruffness and raspiness. And yet, we are snagged. Somewhere we are hooked. But it is only the ones who understand presence and melding with gold that take us in, the others are simply "bad" singers.

    These are the ones that express openly, what we have all expressed in our hidden journals, yet have not voiced out loud. We may have cried for a short moment in the dark film theater, but we have never given voice to it.

  • Ring the bells that still can ring

    Forget your perfect offering

    There is a crack, a crack in everything

    That's how the light gets in.

    Leornard Cohen

  • We are attracted to the cracked and broken voices,because they are survivors. They give us hope.

    We need those courageous singers and artists because they teach us about survival; they teach us about guts; they teach us about honesty; they mirror us and show us where we are holding back.

    Truth is, when something is very broken it is also very vulnerable. And you can only touch an old delicate lace seam without it ripping, if you are tender, if you are gentle with it.

  • The singers that are singing hard with harshness will burn themselves out. They may touch us for a moment, but they can not survive in the biz.

    The ones that become legends are the ones who fill the cracks and crevices with gold.
    They hold the rough and rugged sound with tenderness.

  • When you really love someone, you see all their mess and their brokenness, and you love them anyway. In fact, seeing all of that sort of makes you love them more

    Heather Hepler

  • And this is the irresistible beauty. The "Kitsungi." A rough rugged harsh sound being gently whispered. Think of Leonard Cohen on his last tour. Sold out houses, a few tones, a very limited range and non-stop applause.

    Think of Billie Holiday. She could not sing full out or loud with vocal folds that were not closing properly, she sang the bitter sweet earth. Vulnerability is a strength. It exposes the rough and broken, the unhealed pain, and yet some artists manage to transcend that pain and are standing tall and victorious; and we get hope. They have survived. And we want what they have. We want to believe that the storms can be conquered.

    We are touched by the worn and ragged. Touched by a piece of driftwood that has seen the ocean. Touched by a weathered face that has seen the dusty fields. Possess the power "to take the fragmented world that we find ourselves in and make a unity of it."

    Do we possess the power to take the fragmented and at times broken world we live in and make unity of it? Can we find the golden veins in the broken fragments?

  • In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.

    Brennan Manning

  • This week, listen to the complexities and the beauty of the human voice. Explore the cracks and crevices, and share with me which voices do you love and find beauty in that are cracked and broken, worn and ragged?

    Listen to your favorite artists. Listen for the cracks. The glottal attacks. The groans and growls. The raspiness. How do they start the phrase. End the phrase?

    Listen to your own voice when you talk. Are there moments when your voice breaks away? Moments when she is cloudy. Tight? Dull? Brilliant? Do you have a big break between your registers?

    Listen to when your voice changes. Perhaps you are sad? Angry. Overwhelmed. Perhaps you are deeply in love and words escape you. You stutter? Beauty overwhelms you and you slip into silence.

    Listen, whether your voice is foggy or unclear when you are depressed or worried. Does it change after you have made love? After you have shouted for joy? When is the last time you shouted for joy? Giggled for no reason at all? Grumbled? Yodeled? Fall in love with ALL of You. The whole kitten kaboodle. 

  • Here's to your continued success. Stay Gold!
    May you have the courage to perservere and stay true to your inner voice and strongest vision.


    Please do! Just be sure to include this complete blurb with it.

    VOICE VISIONARY,  SINGER-SONGWRITER AND COACH KARA JOHNSTAD IS PASSIONATE ABOUT TRANSFORMING THE WORLD THROUGH THE POWER OF WORDS, MUSIC AND VOICE: She trains her clients to open their voices, write powerful songs and anthems, and create a lifestyle and business that allows them the freedom to create and live as successful, independent artists and entrepreneurs. www.voiceyouressence.com

  • photo credits:
    Image:"Model-Hair-Portrait" by Tummen/Pixabay

    Image: “Suncrack” by Evgeni Dinev / freedigitalphotos.net
    Image: “Buddha Face” by Just2shutter / freedigitalphotos.net
    Image "Eye Shadow Light by Guiliamar / Pixabay