Recording Session Technique

In addition to leading worship in live settings, I enjoy cutting vocal leads and background vocals on recording projects. This weekend, I had a great time singing the lead on a Christmas song for producer, Gary Lunn.

When I’m asked to sing a “lead”, I like to have an MP3 of the song ahead of time so I can live with it a bit. I perform better when I feel like I “own” the tune rather than just singing the notes. Typically, I chart out the song (in the number system) and go through it a few times so I get it in my head…… then by the time I sing it in the studio, I can sing it from my heart. In my opinion, a song sung from the soul has more “life” than just simply performing the mechanics of it.

The engineer will typically do 2 or 3 takes of each section.  I prefer working a section as opposed to singing it from the top down. The first take, I try to sing the song exactly as the writer wrote it….note for note. The second or third time, I sing it will some personal interpretation added in, that way the producer and writer have options. When they pick their favorite lines, then the engineer “comps/edits” those lines and makes it their favorite “take”.

For me, the most important part of doing session work, is valuing each note and word then singing it from my heart. It allows me to give expression to every song I sing…whether “live” or in the studio.

When I record my own worship songs, I usually sing the first verse and chorus exactly as I wrote it. That way, the listener can learn the melody first. Then as the song builds, I take liberty with certain lines to add additional expression. My goal is to have a recorded performance that stirs my soul to worship. It’s both technique and Spirit…..they work hand in hand to produce the “take” I’m satisfied with.

Note from the producer:  Leann What an amazing job you did on this. Thanks for being such a pro! GL

Note from the writer: Leann, I want to thank you for the wonderful job you did on the vocal for my CHRISTMAS IN YOUR HEART demo. As much as I like the male vocal version, you sang the song with more heart and insight than anyone has so far. Thanks again. Tim 

If you need leads or background vocals on your songs, just let me know. I would be happy to put voice to your project. Contact me at or call at 615-851-2850


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