The human voice is the most articulate and expressive of all instruments; communicating the entire spectrum of human emotions deliberately or inadvertently. It is the instrument we most intimately familiar with. So it's not surprising that vocalists, especially good ones, are important, as the voice is the most effective means of communicating the message of a song.
Although coverage of the general skill of singing is well beyond the scope of this section, I can advise that you do four things:
What to play
The next logical step is for you to be able to sing the song independently of the original vocal. For that, you'd probably need some form of musical accompaniment, provided by fellow musicians or yourself. If printed music is available then great. Otherwise you'll have to figure out the key, chords, and rhythms as well.
The most important skill for a salsa singer is the ability to phrase the vocals to clave. For this, you should try singing to the clave plus conga tracks, then the clave only tracks which can be found in the Salsa: Ear Training Index of Tracks webpage. You would do well to cover the tutorials on the basic conga pattern and the clave.
Listen to the original song again and clapping clave, note how the singer accents and phrases the vocal to it. Work out how you yourself would phrase to clave.
Doing all of
these things will stand you in good stead for your on-going development
as a salsa vocalist.
Secrets of Singing by Jeffrey Allen. Available for male and female voices. A meticulously well-planned instructional course that will take your voice to the next level. Complete with well integrated exercises and practice CDs. (Available from www.amazon.com)
Complete Handbook of Voice Training by Richard Alderson. A little dated perhaps in terms of writing style, and can be sometimes dry, but those are negligible faults in the face of the wealth of knowledge and solid approach to singing that is contained therein. (Available from www.amazon.com)
Singing Salsa / Cantando Salsa, Techniques, Traditions and Applications by Willie Torres. Currently the only instructional DVD in existence which deals with singing salsa. Although it is valuable as such, don't let your enthusiasm run away with you. Caught between teaching singing as a general skill, and the more specific demands of the genre, Mr.Torres ends up doing barely enough of both. (External link)
Salsa: Ear Training by Loo Yeo. (Link to section)
Printed music can be found under the Instructional > Charts & Songbooks category of Descarga.com. (External link)
& Merengue Society