Kathleen Riggs: From Ozzy Osbourne to Dua Lipa, the secrets of my work with VIPs
Kathleen was conceived and raised in the midst of music as both of her parents love music and had the desire for their children to love it in the same way. Today, Kathleen is one of the professionals in her field and in this interview for Global Woman Magazine she reveals the impact her father has had throughout her own musical career working with some of the most famous singers in the world, from Ozzy Osbourne to Saweetie to Dua Lipa and from Madison Beer to ‘Vampire Weekend’.Today Kathleen is by their side helping them all to improve their singing and vocal techniques.
Today you are known as one of the most famous voice trainers in the world. When did this journey of yours first start?
I started my journey with music from my very earliest of memories. My mom, Kathleen, was an opera singer and met my Dad, Seth,at a singing lesson. My Dad was her vocal coach back then and he also taught her how to teach the art of singing. They were married for 26 years and had seven kids together, so I have 3 sisters and 3 brothers. My mom wanted us to be like ‘The Partridge Family’. She’d line us up at the piano every night and have us all singing together. I sang Opera and Musical Theatre with her and then I would sing Pop, R&B and Soul with my Dad. There was no difference in vocal technique no matter which genre of music I sang, which has always been something that has fascinated me.
How much influence has your father, Seth Riggs, had on your career?
My Dad has always had a profound influence on my career. He has taught me every little thing that I know about voice and he’s trained me since I was eight years old. He was the one who encouraged me to start teaching singing. He sent me my first clients when I was 17 years old and he’s always been my biggest fan when it comes to how my career in teaching has taken off.
Have you ever compared your career to that of your father? How do you differ and what differentiates you and what unites you?
I have never compared my career to that of my father. His career in teaching singing is incomparable. I mean, he really taught the best of the best of this industry. I grew up watching and listening to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Liza Minelli, Ray Charles (the list of famous names just goes on and on). These great artists would do their vocal warm-ups all from the couch in my father’s home studio. The only thing I’ve really added to the way I teach is related to ‘style’. My Dad doesn’t teach how to style songs or teach Riffs and Runs. My students often bring in a song they want to cover and what I do is show them how to change it and make it their own expression of the song. Other than that, what we teach is identical.
How would you describe your work with some of the most famous names in the world in the music business?
I’m so lucky and grateful for my experiences with some of the most famous names in the world who have always been very kind. I haven’t been treated unkindly by any of the singers I’ve worked with, which is kind of a surprise with what people read about certain people in magazines if someone is having an off day. I’ve always been met with sensitivity, vulnerability, and kindness. It’s most likely because I work with their gift. They have a genuine interest and passion to understand their voices and want to make themselves better, stronger, and more in control of their instrument. And that is exactly the service I provide.
Can you tell us how these VIPs are up close? Their personalities, whims and conversations?
Up close and personal with the VIPs has been actually very easy. From Ozzy Osbourne to Saweetie to Dua Lipa, from Madison Beer to ‘Vampire Weekend’ and whomever is the next hot up-and-comer, all have been very friendly. I treat them how I treat everyone else and I think they respect that. I’m just myself and I have a job to do. My work is to build up their voices so that they can sustain their voices with all of the touring, rehearsals, and recording sessions they work through. The VIPs allow me into their process so that we can start remedying right away any vocal problems they may be having. The clients at the top are just as dedicated, hardworking, and passionate about improving as those that are just starting out. I’ve always been treated very kindly by all my clients . And for that I am eternally grateful. Phew!
Can you share with us some tips for young artists? What are the main things they need to keep in mind?
There are a number of tips I have for young singers including: the only way you fail is if you quit and staying in your comfort zone won’t help you ‘grow’. If you have a voice teacher that’s not helping you grow, then try someone new as you don’t want to be with someone that’s encouraging mediocrity. Yes, your voice can always do more. Be yourself and share your unique voice. Trying to sound like someone else is not the best goal. We want to hear YOU. Also, you have to be your own advocate. Stand up for yourself and don’t let people take advantage of you. You deserve a seat at the table. Taking care of yourself is number one. Get your rest, drink enough water, do your vocal warm-ups every day. Show up and be yourself because there’s no one else like you. It’s perfectly fine to start over and or start again. Just do it. These are all key pieces of advice.
Away from your career and work, how would you describe yourself?
I’d describe myself as someone that’s full of energy and very playful, but I also really love to chill. I love listening to podcasts, watching documentaries and taking long walks around my neighbourhood. I love to cook and find new recipes and share meals with friends. I also love taking day trips to Ojai or Joshua Tree and exploring different hikes in CA. When this pandemic is over, I’m out of here. I can teach from anywhere. All I ever need is my voice, their voice, a keyboard and good WIFI signal. Right now, I’m looking forward to more travel and more workshops in different places around the world! Thanks for having me guys!