Hello Voice Connection fans. As you know, it’s been a looooong time since I’ve personally interviewed anyone in the voice field. But when I discovered the Superior Vocal Health (SVH) line, I knew that SVH founder and creator, David Aaron Katz would be an amazing interview that I just couldn’t pass up. David has been singing Opera, Broadway, and popular music around the world for more than twenty years. Through career highs and lows, he has experienced firsthand, the trials of being a professional singer. As we all know, a singer cannot afford to have a bad performance. With this in mind, David set out to create the perfect health care line for beginning and professional singers and speakers alike. I caught up with David to discuss his line and here’s what he had to say…
Jaime: So, David, I am loving the SVH line. I think the products are amazing. I am even more happy that a singer developed the products, because a singer knows what we singers need. Speaking of which, how did you get into singing?
David: I actually did not sing a note until college! When I was six or seven years old, I remember I used to scream along in my bedroom to songs on the radio. I never had a problem picking up a vocal line and imitating it. So one day I was so taken by Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” that I knew I wanted to be a singer.
Jaime: “Immigrant Song” was a big influential song for me as well.
David: What an amazing song! I remember screaming it out and was pretty amazed with my own sound. So I thought to myself, “hey, I can sing like these guys”! But, that’s all it amounted to. I never had the courage to sing in public. Then I went to college and figured that if I got a degree in music, with the focus on Opera or how to sing Opera, then I could sing whatever I wanted because I knew that Opera, for me, would take the most discipline and strength. So I did that, then started a great hairband in the late eighties and started screaming out Crue, Ratt, Zeppelin, Whitesnake, and all the rest. Unfortunately, as I found rather quickly, one actually can’t sing Opera and the “anything else”. The training is too focused and specific to the sound and the technique is everything. So I soon had to quit the rock band. At that time, I began to realize my potential through my teacher’s help and eventually auditioned at another college and received a full scholarship for Opera studies. The rest you may say, is history!
Jaime: Tell me more about your training.
David: I started my Operatic training in 1986. So you could say I have been at it for quite some time. My first eight years were in Arizona. Then I moved to New York to study and be in the center of the Opera world so to say. I had two extraordinary teachers. One was a master of vowels and sound placement and the other was a master of support and focus. The later teacher was Franco Iglesias. He was also Placido Domingo’s teacher. He was really the one who helped me realize my true potential and to build my voice properly over the years. He taught me the elegance and how to color with the voice as well as how to sing properly without abuse for long periods of time. A real master.
Jaime: Well, I’d say you’ve mastered the craft, because I saw your National Anthem video, which sounded amazing! It takes a lot of technique to sing that song. Any tips for people who want to tackle the National Anthem?
David: Thanks a lot for the compliment. I really enjoyed singing for the New York Mets that night. It was one of the biggest audiences I have sung for to date. You are correct. The Anthem covers almost an octave and a half with the voice, needing to be full and even throughout the whole song. My tip would be to make sure you can sing the highest note AND the lowest note well. Pick your key wisely so you don’t shred yourself at the top and disappear at the bottom. Also make sure you start in the right key that you practiced. I sang it accapella, so to make sure I started on the right note, I recorded the first phrase on my cell phone from the piano. Then right before I went out to sing, I listened to it so I had the key in my mind.
Jaime: Let’s switch gears and discuss your new product line. What gave you the idea for Superior Vocal Health?
David: The idea came from needing products myself. First and foremost, Superior Vocal Health is a company created by a singer for singers. It is not an herbal company or ENT who wanted to tap into a niche market to make some extra money! I know the voice, I use the products,and I know what the singer needs and my company mission is to help the singer. In addition, Superior Vocal Health is not simply another spray that has come out to keep your throat wet, which is what some other products are designed for. Superior Vocal Health is a company dedicated to producing products that help the singer and voice professional deal with every issue they come up against, help them to heal and stay healthy so they can perform night after night. Not just a dry mouth!
I have been singing Opera, Broadway, and popular music internationally, as well as teaching and coaching singers of all styles for more than twenty years now. Throughout my career, I have always been super conscious about how I am using my voice and what is good or bad for my instrument. The obvious like no smoking, screaming at football games or over loud crowds, hacking up mucus, etc.. these always were the standard rules.
As I mentioned before, I sang in a great metal band in my college days while studying classical singing, so I also know the demands of that singing style. They are all the same demands, regardless of whether you are a beginner or a pro who is singing constantly to earn your keep. No matter what the style, things can get hairy when one is on the road, singing night after night, staying in different hotels, riding buses, planes, and barely ever getting enough sleep! The singer is always expected to be “on”.
Singing Opera is a little more critical because the requirement for vocal perfection is very high and the audience is usually full of serious aficionados who, although they may not be singers, have heard great singing their whole life and know what they want to hear that night and are almost always comparing you to all the previous great singers before you!
Throughout my career, I also have always been interested and concerned with nutrition and natural living, i.e. herbs and diet and a clear mind and heart. However, I am human like the rest of us. About eight years ago I got incredibly sick from a poisoning of the body due to the foods I was eating. I almost died and was hospitalized for some time. I lost my ability to produce barely any sound at all. I lost almost twenty pounds and could barely walk or hold my children. My body was wrecked.
This led me into the path of raw foods and a complete life style change regarding what I put into my body. After a number of months being completely committed to my new diet choices and lifestyle I began singing again. I was blown away that my voice had almost doubled in size and my ability to produce sound was easier than ever before. This led me to study more and more about nutrition, the body and the effects on the voice.
Jaime: It’s funny you mention raw foods. I have allergies that affect my skin and sinuses, and though I am very health conscious already, I’ve recently began delving more and more into raw foods. You are absolutely right about the difference it makes in vocal quality!
David: It’s like a completely new voice. Since I had this new voice, I became immersed in the natural health field, so I studied and became and herbalist and nutritional consultant. Year after year, I would research and try different remedies for a tired overused voice, or a sore throat, or a tired body, or a cough, or sinus congestion, etc. Believe me when I say I’ve tried them all! Some worked and some didn’t. However, most worked for only a short period of time or did not work the way they claimed they would or actually did more damage than healing. This led me to find out what really does work, naturally without chemicals or drugs, that does not adversely affect the voice, throat and body. In fact, my goal was to find what actually helps the body as well as the voice.
Given this goal, the natural (no pun intended) choice was herbs. I wanted the herbs to be the best quality, all natural, organic, and manufactured in the USA. So I researched for a number of years, specifically those herbs that were associated with healing the throat, vocal cords, respiratory tract, sinus passages, nervous system, and body. I also took some time to find the right manufacturer. I wanted an optimal formula that could do everything and cover all the issues primarily, not only for singers, but also voice professionals such as broadcasters, actors, lawyers, and teachers. Anyone who uses their voice will have to deal with voice specific situations on a regular basis such as:
* A tired and over used voice, but still have to go on and sing or record in the studio
* Clogged and packed sinus passages that do not allow the sound to resonate properly
* Mucus and debris in the throat and on the vocal cords
* Nervous and anxious energy that cause tension and contraction of the throat and lungs restricting breath flow
* Dry mouth syndrome due to nerves and different singing venues
* Low or battered immune systems due to travel and working so hard
* Closed or tight throat muscles needing to be opened and relaxed
So eventually what I found was that one formula would not cover all of these issues the way I wanted them to be covered. So I created the current product line, that with all four products in tow, a singer or voice professional can have in their bag a full Vocal Health Care Maintenance kit whenever a specific issue arises. You see, a singer has their instrument in their body. If we are sick, have the flu, feel beat up, or feel something coming on like that little tickle in the throat that signifies a cold, we still have to sound the same or better than the last show. If a guitarist has the flu, he or she can sit on an amp or chair. Even when they aching joints, a fever, swollen throat/cords, etc., they can still play without a hitch or the anxiety that the singer experiences.
A very important point to make is that these products, while they are outstanding for healing, rejuvenating, soothing, and restoring, they are not magic formulas that will make you a singer or instantly restore the voice. But, they do provide vocal health maintenance. To be your best, you must utilize proper technique in combinatin with vocal health care…Both are a must. Their is no magic bullet when it comes to being a professional singer. It takes hard work and dedication to your voice. It is a complete lifestyle. The product line was built for that person; the singer who knows what it means to be a pro and knows that they must take care of their voice and that it should be done naturally without chemicals or drugs if they want to keep singing well for years to come.
Jaime: So, let’s actually discuss each of your four original products individually. Tell me first about Throat Saver first. It definitely has a bite to it.
David: Throat Saver is quickly becoming the favorite of many artists. I personally keep a bottle in my bag or pocket 24/7. As a spray, it’s application is easy and can be done anywhere. I also use it when traveling on planes for keeping my mouth and throat moist as well as healthy.
Throat Saver is an original formula created to help sore and dry throats, as well as help remove excess mucus and debris from the throat and vocal cords that can accumulate due to post nasal drip and infection or improper diet. It also promotes the reduction of swelling and inflammation of the throat and cords, and helps with dry mouth syndrome, which is due to reduced saliva flow in the mouth, by helping to keep the salivary glands active. The agent responsible for this action is an amazing natural supplement called Xylitol.
Xylitol, a 100% natural product, a sweetener that occurs naturally. It can be found in berries, fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms. It actually stimulates the salivary glands completely eliminating dry mouth and throat. Xylitol has also been proven to inhibit the growth of bacteria, which is evident in research which shows that this effect enables xylitol to help prevent bacteria and irritants from adhering to upper respiratory passages as well. In addition it is very helpful in aiding acute head colds, and general throat irritation. It helps clear the throat of mucus congestion in order to remove lingering mucus that needs to be expelled. If mucus stays too long in the throat, it becomes a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria to continually live, thus prolonging recovery from colds and flus.
It certainly has a bite to it, as you say, but that is what makes it unique from any other products out there and also it does what it was designed to do!
Jaime: It reminds me a bit of menthol or cayenne, but it doesn’t contain any. It isn’t drying to the throat, is it? What gives it that bite?
David: Throat Saver is designed to do the opposite of drying the throat. It lubricates and activates the salivary glands. The “bite” you are experiencing is the organic high grade peppermint oil in the blend. Peppermint oil is excellent for removing mucus in itself. But when blended with the other eight or nine herbs in the formula, the result is far superior to any other product on the market today.
Menthol, on the other hand, can be extremely damaging to the vocal cords and any one who uses their voice to make a living should stay as far away as possible from any products with menthol. Menthol can irritate the vocal cords even more and also tends to have a numbing effect leading one to think they are healing but in reality the have simply numbed out their cords and can do more damage.
Jaime: Let’s talk about Sinus Clear Out. What does it do overall?
David: Sinus Clear Out is an extremely pungent formula with aromatic compounds that produce vapors that may open and dilate the sinus passages in order to help drain them, help deepen breathing and help to kill microbial inundation.
Sinus Clear Out is full of extraordinary herbs that have been used for centuries to clear out the entire sinus cavity. The most potent and powerful of these include Garlic, Horseradish, and Cayenne. It packs a serious punch! It will open you up like nothing you have ever felt before. It also has herbs in it that are excellent for your overall body health that will stimulate your immune system to speed up healing.
It can be used many times a day continuing to promote more open sinuses and help to clear out the sinus cavities without any dangerous side effects. It will not dry out or adversely affect the vocal cords and throat like many over the counter chemicals and drug medications.
Jaime: I woke up the other morning with the gums on my back left side, swollen and sore, like an infection was setting in. I had a weird idea. I put a dropper full of Sinus Clear Out right in that sore gum pocket. I swear, the soreness was gone in a few minutes. Can Sinus Clear Out be used for sore gums, or even canker sores?
David:You nailed it with the Sinus Clear Out. I actually give it to my kids and I use it the first sign a cold or when something is tickling my throat. It is really powerful as you have found out. That is due to the highest quality of the echinacea and the garlic and horseradish herbal extracts as well as the way we blend them. It is really a knock out formula. I am not surprised that your your sore gums had instant relief. It really is a very very powerful and real formula.
Jaime: Vocal Rescue is amazing as well. Tell me about it…Can it be used everyday or would a person develop a tolerance?
David: Interesting you should feel that way about Vocal Rescue! This has been my favorite “go to” formula. Vocal Rescue is a time tested blend of more than ten different restoring herbs. It is an easy to use gargle that helps to coat the throat and restore the vocal cords, when sore due to excessive use, tiredness, colds, laryngitis, or tonsillitis. It is made with a concentrated blend of potentially restorative and invigorating herbs that help to coat the throat, helping to promote the healing properties to begin working immediately, by reducing inflammation and restoring blood flow to over used and tired muscles and vocal cords.
Vocal Rescue is especially effective when used as a gargle in the middle of a show or presentation to help restore and invigorate the voice. Additionally, it is an excellent practice to use just before going to bed after a performance. This is especially true if you know that you will be a performing or presenting during the next day or two. This way, Vocal Rescue can sit in the throat for hours while you sleep and help to restore, rejuvenate, and energize the entire vocal mechanism.
As with any herbs or medicine, I never recommend to anyone to rely on or use these products every time they sing. This product line was built and created to aid and help the voice professional when they are in need, not to be used as a crutch. These products are never meant to be a substitute for proper technique and vocal health care. So my answer to this question would be to use it when you need it. If that means each day while on the road, singing night after night, then so be it. You are using it like you would food and nutrition. Just make sure you keep singing correctly.
Jaime: Understood, but I am still curious if a singer could use all three products every day for vocal health maintenance or would a person develop an immunity to the herbs?
David: Referring to the answer above is probably the best call. However, regarding the issue of becoming immune to the effects of the herbs, that is a different story. The body develops all kinds of defense mechanisms and allergies if a person puts the same thing into their body year after year. So I would always suggest taking a break even for a few days. Also the Throat Saver and Vocal Rescue both have Goldenseal in them. You do not want to take goldenseal internally in high levels for more than seven to ten days. But the Vocal Rescue is a gargle and should not be taken internally anyways. The Throat Saver Spray is also a very small dosage when sprayed and I do not believe it will effect a person as if they were taking raw Goldenseal capsules every day.
Jaime: Let’s move on to the Stage Fright formula. Tell me a bit about it and how it actually works?
David: Stage Fright is a great tasting naturally flavored tablet that helps a performer or presenter to relax and focus at the same time without having any of the side effects that accompany tranquilizers and muscle relaxants. It is a specially balanced blend of GABA -gamma-aminobutyric acid, L-Theanine and DMG-Dimethylglycine. These supplements actually help the brain to access it’s natural levels GABA and Theanine that are already in the brain. Our bodies are amazing and everything we need has been provided for us.
However, we have also created many things that stop the natural action of the body. The number one agent that blocks our natural levels of GABA and Theanine from releasing and relaxing us is white refined sugar. So tell me, who do you know that does not eat too much refined white sugar?
Simply put without being to technical, these supplements relax and slow down the brain activity that can result in excess anxiety and “nerves” naturally.
Stage Fright is also very effective and powerful. However, it does not knock you out or adversely affect your performance. It is a great balance for those who deal with performance anxiety
Jaime: Wow, what a great line. Being an idea type person, I could think of a few more products that would be perfect for your line. So, I am wondering, if are there any plans to expand the SVH line with other products?
David: I am always looking for new natural ways to take care of, strengthen, and heal the voice. So yes, you can expect to see some new and innovative products within the next few years.
Jaime: I also heard you were writing a book.
David: Absolutely! It has always been a dream of mine to put together a Guidebook or Handbook so to say, of herbs, supplements, and foods that help the singer take care of their voice naturally. So that dream is quickly becoming a reality. This book will cover every issue a singer needs to know on how to care for their voice naturally without chemicals or drugs. My vision is that my book will be in the gig bag of every voice professional in the world so that if they ever get into a bind, they will know exactly how to handle the situation while also giving their body and mind what each needs naturally.
Jaime:Great, I am sure your fans cannot wait for new products and the book. I’d like to jump back a step and discuss the formulas. The three liquids all have similar herbs. Can you explain this and what actually differentiates the properties of each. For example, you tell me to do Sinus Clear Out daily for my cold. Why not Vocal Rescue instead?
David: Great question. You are correct in that they have similar herbs. However, these herbs when blended with other herbs react differently and produce different results. That is why one needs to know which herbs are specific to which ailment or condition. So the blends I created are built with the end result in mind although they have a few similar herbs in them.
Your reference to using Sinus Clear Out daily is actually a very intuitive thought. Sinus Clear Out has herbs in it that can be used daily for regular quality health and support of the immune system and the overall body energy. I use it the second I feel a cold or throat issue coming on, which is very rarely. But when it does, I go right to the blend and it begins to impact my system immediately and let the healing begin. Sinus Clear Out is very powerful and it’s impact is very far reaching in terms of healing and clearing the body of unwanted debris and mucus as well as completely opening up the sinus passages.
Vocal Rescue, on the other hand, would not be used for a cold simply due to the fact that the formula is built with herbs that are used to reduce inflammation and restore blood flow like turmeric and ginger. These, while taken on a daily basis for health in many countries, are not, in this blend intended for that purpose. The Vocal Rescue also has a very small amount of Arnica oil in it. Arnica is not generally taken internally because it can cause stomach and digestive irritation or worse. However, the effects, when used topically or in this case on the vocal cords and throat muscles are fantastic for reducing inflammation. So that is why this is a gargle and is to be spit out after each gargle and never ingested. If someone did ingest the Vocal Rescue at small amounts, the worst that would probably happen is that they would get nauseous. But the directions for use are clearly written out in the Product Usage Guideline Sheet that is sent with every order.
Jaime:Great interview David, I wish you lots of luck with the SVH line. One last question…I’ve heard that you’ve read my books “Raise Your Voice Second Edition” and “The Ultimate Breathing Workout.” What did you think?
David: Well, as you know, my training has been very extensive as well as top notch. I studied with Placido Domingo’s teacher for many years and benefited greatly from that study. As the years went on, I got more busy with family and day to day living. Although I never had any vocal issues or lost my ability to sing, I did find my approach to technique becoming somewhat lazy and not as focused. I have never been a big fan or believer in vocal or singing books simply because my training has been so thorough and complete. However, I recently picked up your books after finding out you have broken glass with your voice and was curious to see what you were doing and how you were doing it.
I must say, the information, exercises, and instruction reminded me of being in a voice lesson with my old teacher. You rekindled my interest, commitment, and discipline to deep supported breathing while singing. And the result has been fantastic. Your “Power Push” and other technique exercises have gotten me back into complete support from the bottom and my voice has once again grown and become more even from top to bottom due to my more diligent focus on deeper support. I would highly suggest your books to anyone seeking to further develop and strengthen their voice and connect with their support. Thank you for your work.
Jaime: Why, you are welcome:) And for you innovative passion to help singers worldwide, I’d like to mention the Special Bonus that we are offering in conjunction with SVH. For those of you who have read this interview and are interested in trying out the SVH line, David has created two special discount packages:
SVH 3-Pack Get Sinus Clear Out, Vocal Rescue and Throat Saver for $39.95 . That’s a savings of $20.00.
PLUS- All singers who order the three bottle pack will receive a special discount code to get $80.00 off my Ultimate Vocal Workout!
SVH 4-Pack Get Sinus Clear Out, Vocal Rescue, Throat Saver, and Stage Fright for $49.95. That’s a savings of $50.00.
PLUS- You STILL get the $80.00 offer off of the Ultimate Vocal Workout, and your name is entered into a random monthly drawing in which three lucky people will when the follwing:
*One person will win a free copy of The Ultimate Vocal Workout
*One person will win a free 30-minute Skype voice lesson with me (Jaime Vendera)
NOTE: You MUST enter the code VENDERA at checkout to your order to receive these great discounts and bonuses! Order your 3-Pack or 4-Pack today!