Up Close: Seth and Margareta Riggs

Singing for Legends: After launching his performing career on Broadway and in the NYC Opera in the early ‘50s, Seth Riggs developed his gift for vocal instruction—and in the decades since he has become Hollywood’s leading vocal coach, working with everyone from Michael Jackson, Anita Baker, Natalie Cole and Barbra Streisand to Prince, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Madonna. Author of the bestselling book Singing for the Stars, Riggs’ clients have collectively received over 135 Grammys. Some 10 years after renowned Swedish vocalist and entertainer Margareta Svensson—whose successful career includes more than 6000 engagements throughout Europe and the U.S.—began working with Riggs as a student, the two reconnected, fell in love, got married and created a dynamic instructional partnership called the Seth and Margareta Svensson Riggs Vocal Studio.

Creator: In wanting to get from chest- to head-voice without a break, Riggs figured that resting the larynx where we speak made it possible to sing evenly from bottom to top and he developed exercises to assist. The foundation of Seth’s success with legendary artists, professional singers and upstarts is his trademarked singing technique he subsequently calls Speech Level Singing (sometimes labeled SLS). His teaching has been revolutionary in that it maximizes one’s vocal abilities in any style of singing, and is effective at rehabilitating vocal damage caused by poor teaching or abuse. “Nowadays however, ‘Speech Level Singing’ has become a term widely used, but not always well applied,” Riggs says. “I found that teaching teachers was in too many instances heartbreaking, and my technique distorted. You must be able to sing songs, not just do exercises—there is an enormous difference. Both Margareta and I, being performers at our core, feel nothing is worse than destroying someone’s hopes, dreams or career because of bad teaching. With her, I have returned to teach almost only singers. Ultimately, they are the ones who need it, now more than ever.”

The Male/Female Dynamic: As a team, Seth and Margareta conduct master classes and workshops worldwide. The singers are immediately thrown into technique in exercises and songs as well as creative and emotional expression, culminating in a public performance. “Working with Margareta has been transformative for me and my teaching practice,” Seth says. “It adds such dimension to have someone this talented complement me, and Margareta is deadly at vocalizing nearly four octaves of connection.” Margareta adds, “It’s very exciting to work together. And to help someone with the gift and passion for singing, regardless of age, struggles or career, have a new life as a singer and be able to be the best artist they can be, is a gift in itself.”

Seth & Margareta Riggs, 323-938-4780, theriggsvocalstudio.com