Gary Catona is a iconic and famed American voice coach who lives his life through fitness, health, love and meditation. It is with these key aspects that he has garnered the respect and trust of past and current clients that have included the late Whitney Houston & Muhammad Ali, Steven Tyler, Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, Andrea Bocelli, Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), Dawn Robinson (En Vogue), Babyface, Paula Abdul and Lenny Kravitz, amongst many others.
Asana Journal sat down with Gary at his Los Angeles home to find out what about meditation specifically helps a singer to do their very best, along with other questions on his loving, healthy lifestyle that has turned him into the top person in the world for vocal rehabilitation.
1. How were you first introduced to breathing meditation and what were your original thoughts?
I had a stressful year and a friend who practices breathing meditation showed me the process. The deep breathing helped me to get me out of my head so to speak, and escape from nagging thoughts. It was truly a fascinating process.
2. Did you grow up as a spiritual person? Are you today?
Yes, in fact, I have a Master’s Degree in philosophy from Penn State -philosophy was my spiritual path. What is spiritual for me is allowing my desire to know the truth guide me daily.
3. As a voice coach & builder, do you advise your students to meditate ever?
Meditation is always beneficial to artists of all kinds – produces creative energies. It’s also good if you are handling difficult situations – that require focus. Meditation also makes people more considerate and more concerned about expressing their thoughts to the listening public.
4. What purpose does various forms of breathing meditation serve professional singers?
Is it better to meditate before or after before a performance? Meditation helps calm nerves and helps a singer to focus on his/her artistic plan of action. Developing the capacity for deep breathing is always a benefit for singers. In my experience, meditating before a performance is best as it prepares the artist to give their best when out on stage or in the recording booth.
5. How important is an active, healthy lifestyle to you?
It is the number one importance to me! Without good health and fitness, you lack the connection to life’s energies. Living an active, healthy lifestyle also inspires others to do the same.
6. What is your overall motivation to stay fit?
Life affirmation, feel good, look good, do good. Uplift others when you are fit and energetic.
7. For singers: If they are not in good shape and/or eating properly, can that have a negative effect on their vocals?
Yes, I see singing as a kind of sport that requires focused attention on staying vocally fit. Proper nutrition, effective exercise – all adds to a singer’s talents.
8. Is it hard to find time to meditate and work out with your busy schedule?
One has to make the time – it’s a matter of priorities. No excuses! Whatever makes you healthier, stronger, and more creative, has to become a way of life.
9. How has meditation helped you both personally and professionally in life?
Meditation has allowed me to retain emotional and mental stability in an unstable, ever-changing world. It has helped me to realize that stress and anxiety can be controlled and reduced if you know the principles and techniques of meditation.
10. What advice would you like to share with other practitioners based on your personal experience or others looking at getting into the same things you do?
Whatever you do, become the best at it. That means connecting your natural gifts and your passion – brilliance is often the likely outcome.
11. Where is your favorite place to meditate?
On my couch, in front of my 3 Italian greyhounds. That’s when I can relax and focus most successfully.
12. What are some of your favorite health foods that are a part of your weekly diet?
Clean foods – organic fruits, veggies, and especially fish. I also make sure to drink plenty of water. Here in Los Angeles, California, I shop at Erewhon and Whole Foods mostly, as those stores specialize in healthy, clean food.
13. What are your future dreams and goals both professionally and personally?
Professionally, I want to make greater contributions to the world and to help people realize that they too can have a powerful and beautiful voice if they know how to build one. My Ultimate Voice Builder DVD (www. ultimatevoicebuilder.com) is a good way to do just that. Personally, I just want to live in peace, love, and generosity.