To say that Mark Baxter is the man behind some of the world’s most successful performers would be an understatement. His contribution to music is undeniable and his skill set beyond reproach. As a young backup singer and drummer, it didn’t take Baxter very long to realize that being a successful performer required that he be in a position of control. The fertile ground of the East Coast music scene provided the perfect backdrop and stepping into the spotlight fronting his own band, provided the perfect avenue for success.
To entertain six nights a week in clubs and to record original material in a studio during the day, Baxter knew that attaining performance perfection required not only stamina but also an expanded vocal range along with the correct attitudinal perspective. It was during his opening of several shows for the heavy metal band Twisted Sister that Baxter asked their lead singer Dee Snider for his opinion about vocal coaching. Snider recommended Katie Agresta, a vocal coach in NYC that he had been studying with. Under Agresta, Baxter’s skill set broadened to such an extent that he was invited to join her teaching staff. On staff, he trained singers, entertainers and vocal coaches. During his employ with Agresta, he met Boston-based performers singer-songwriter Rick Berlin, formerly the front man of Orchestra Luna, and Laurie Sargent, formerly with Face to Face, both of whom commuted to New York weekly to attend his classes.
At Berlin’s suggestion, Baxter attended a seminar in Boston where there was an immediate demand for a rock oriented vocal coach. That day alone, he scheduled three full days with clients from the Boston area, eager to study his unique approach to vocal performance, prompting him to open his first studio in Brookline to which he commuted weekly from the NY studio. Additionally, Baxter continued his own studies with vocal coach and author Eugene Rabine, who was based in Germany at the time but who also had a studio in Brookline.
As Baxter developed his own methodology, his client base grew. Laurie Sargent then introduced Mark to Tim Collins, most noted for his work as the manager for Aerosmith from 1984-1996. Collins immediately recognized Baxter’s gift as a vocal therapist and introduced him to Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, who then became Baxter’s client.
Baxter’s therapeutic and personal touch to vocal performance is what makes him a standout vocal coach. He has stated that he will be “forever grateful to Steven Tyler” for helping him to attain his status as an international vocal coach and for recommending him to so many of his fellow entertainers. Mark describes his success as being “sucked up into a powerful storm” and happy to be part of it. Only Steven Tyler can speak for himself, but it would not be outlandish to assume that appreciation goes in both directions, as Baxter often accompanied Tyler to his shows during those very important come-back years, providing moral support and assisting in pre-show warmups.
Mark Baxter recognizes that the need for self-expression and healing, often, leads a person to study art and therefore he advocates the arts as a means of personal growth and nurturing. His extensive client base consists of thousands. His home studio is in Revere, MA with satellites studios located in Los Angeles and New York. He is much sought after as an expert within his field, consulted by professionals throughout the entertainment industry and by people who simply enjoy singing. He is often invited as a guest speaker to the Berklee College of Music.
Mark Baxter is also an author. His multi-faceted methodology is detailed both within his book, The Rock-N-Roll Singer’s Survival Manual, and within his CD, Sing Like an Idol, both available for purchase on his website at voicelesson.com where he also offers private lessons as well as free vocal help. He regularly attends seminars at the Harvard School of Continuing Education at Mass General under laryngeal surgeon Dr. Steven Zeitels and to date has taken hundreds of voice related courses.
Mark says, “I don’t think I’ll ever tire of learning about the voice. I’ve read every book out there and continuously look for related subjects. Many of the singers I work with have vocal damage. The medical courses allow me to speak freely with doctors and then translate their findings into singers’ terms for my clients. As a performer myself, I know exactly what it feels like to sing in the worst conditions. Combining my understanding of anatomy with stage experience allows me to help others reach their potential… and there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.”
Johnny Lang, Grace Potter, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Del Fuegos, Treat Her Right, Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls), Martin Johnson (Boys Like Girls), Kristen Welchez (DumDum Girls), Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend), JJ Grey (Mofro), Marc Broussard, Laurie Sargent (Face To Face, Morphine, Twinemen), Rick Berlin (Orchestra Luna), Jennifer Tefft, David Minehan (The Neighborhoods), In The Pink, Talking To Animals, Jennifer Trynin, Piebald, Thanks To Gravity, Upper Crust, The Heritics, Susan McNeil, The Sheila Divine, Michele Lewis, Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver), Trans Siberian Orchestra, The cast of Rent, Lee Martin “Dewey” Bunnell, Foghat and many, many more.
(by John Cappello)