As Brett grew, so did his love of music. In college he began to write more classical compositions, but his first focus in college was in dance. “I still can’t believe I was a dance major in college,” he chuckles. “Because of that, there were musical theatre opportunities, but I wasn’t a fan. Someone asked if I could sing and I said, ‘I sing loud in church.’ I always thought I probably could sing. So they pulled me up to a piano, had me sing. They said, ‘With a little bit of training, you’ll go far.’ The problem was, the training was bad training, I was taught to yell instead of sing with the Belt Technique and it was busting up my voice. I bounced around from teacher to teacher looking for someone who could turn singing from a labor into love.
I finally met some old guru out in L.A. who, in about twenty minutes, gave me complete understanding of what really was supposed to be happening with my voice. I found out about the head voice, chest voice, the middle voice, and the mix voice, that in-between voice, instead of flipping into falsetto or yelling, that there’s another option. I found out I could do that and even higher, through much experimentation, reading, a lot of prayer, a lot of inspiration. Inspiration multiplied by perspiration.”
With that knowledge Brett formulated Singing Success, an effective voice method used by singers to quickly teach proper use of the voice and add vocal range. “I was able to come up with my own methodology for teaching. I have trained Grammy winners and a bunch of people that haven’t won Grammies that probably should. But those people, I find, are playing at venues of one hundred fifty, are so happy, so at peace with what they’re doing. They are making one hundred fifty people happy at one time instead of twelve thousand people. To me, it is a great satisfaction that you move one person at a time."
"I’ve got effective and gifted certified vocal instructors throughout the country and even overseas - as far away as Singapore. My certification program means I can rest assured knowing that people will get good training, not in just correct technique, but in the commercial voice. I don’t pretend to be the only one that can teach like this, but I think my methodology is really fast, really, really effective and makes voices really radio-friendly, right away."
After years of showing others the way, including music greats like Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, and Paramore, Brett is now working on his own album. “I think the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me has to actually be that I am able to do what I’ve been teaching others to do over the years. For years, I’ve been far more excited about making somebody great rather than being great, but now it’s good to join the ranks.”
Over a three-day period, Brett played over 200 songs he had written for his producer. They chose songs to fit the theme Brett wanted to portray. “Life is a struggle; it is not for cowards, but the greater the struggle, the greater the reward. Even when you have the reward, the struggle can come,” he says.
Describing his musical style, he explains, “I’m a chord freak. I’ll use and abuse any chord anytime I can and I won’t even apologize. I really love going crazy with chords, not using the typical one, four, five, four, one, five, one, five, four, one, five, four chord progression, three chords and the truth. I’ll go, ‘Lets do two, five, one, six.’ They’ll be like, ‘Why are you doing this? You’re breaking the rules, you’re rattling our cage.’”
“Back in 2000, I went through a difficult divorce. God had a plan. Three years ago, I got remarried to the love of my life. I’ve got two kids with my ex-wife and two with my ‘wife for life,’ I call her.” He and his wife, pop singer, Elle, did something that had never been done before. They released simultaneous debut singles on iTunes on the same day in June 2008. “Elle and I, we’re a package, we’re always going to tour together. Our music is just different enough. We don’t do duets, we don’t even sing on each other’s projects. We just tour together; I get to tour with my best friend.”
Balance has come to Brett Manning’s life, by tipping his obsession with work off the scales and allowing the most important things to rise, his family. “Music is so seductive, it can capture you and everything else can fade out. I really have come to a place where music, overall, doesn’t mean that much to me. I’m passionate about it, but I’m far more passionate about God, far more passionate about my lovely wife, who, to me, just the mention of her name makes my whole earth stop. That’s the most amazing woman I have ever met. And then my three sons and my new beautiful baby daughter, my one-year old princess who just goes crazy over daddeeee. If my wife said to me, ‘you know what? I think you should quit music and teaching, live off your royalties and just hang out with us.’ I’d say, ‘Okay!’ That is literally how much more my family means to me than music.
I don’t do music to fill voids now. I do music, now, because my voids are filled. The spiritual void first, then the relationship void. Having relationships bring meaning to your life. My music now has meaning because my life has meaning. I don’t think music can give meaning to a person’s life. The people snorting the stuff, shooting the veins, and going in and out of rehab were hoping to fill a void, but the void is a spiritual one. One thing about a spiritual void, you try to fill it with something material, it just gets bigger. It’s like the universe. The further you go out into space, the bigger the universe gets.
I wrote a song called Time. It says, ‘Time keeps on running and time is a thief. Time is unforgiving and it’s standing against me. If there’s one thing I can’t understand, it’s the foolish man that lets several hours slip on by. He doesn’t know that time was his life.’ That makes my chest cave in, because I’ve wasted so much time.
I’ve had people tell me, ‘I can’t listen to that song, it fills me with so much remorse.’ And I’m like, ‘Good, I’m going to sing it again!’ That’s what I want. I don’t want people to cry when I sing, necessarily. I want them to be angry, and I want them to be challenged. People think the test of a great performance is if you make the person cry. I don’t want to cry, I want to feel excited. I want to be angry. I want to be in love.”
The captivating presence of Brett Manning radiates from him, revealing a man who has truly found his place in life.