With chameleon-like vocals and the ability to bring the likes of more than 50 pop icons to life, celebrity impressionist Véronic DiCaire is a powerhouse vocalist that knows a thing or two about putting on a damn good Vegas show.
As she prepares to jet out of town on tour on June 16, DiCaire sat down with us to chat about her show, her life as a performer and the skills required to master the art of impersonation.
Read on to learn more about this bubbly blonde and don’t miss your chance to catch her show before she heads out of Sin City next week.
Q&A with Véronic DiCaire
Q: How and when did you discover your talent as an impersonator?
A: My mom says that when I was young, I used to imitate my teachers or comedians I saw on TV. But before I did impressions as a career, I was a recording artist in Canada. I really only did impressions in front of friends or during sound checks, joking around. Growing up in French Canada, we all dreamed of singing like Celine Dion, so I would do my best to imitate her. When Celine was looking for an opening act for a concert she was doing in Montreal, I submitted a video of myself doing impressions. I ended up needing to fill a 30-minute set for the show in front of 20,000 people and at that point, I was really only doing five or six voices. With my vocal coach, I learned some others and it was Celine’s son-in-law, Marc Dupré, also an impersonator in Quebec, who said to me, “You know what? You should do imitations Véronic.” And, voilà! The rest is history.
Q: Who is the biggest musical influence in your life and why?
A: That is such a tough question because I have 50 singers I pay homage to in my show. Obviously, Celine Dion was and continues to be a huge inspiration and part of my life, but another one I always say has been a great influence is Karen Carpenter. I grew up listening to her and knew when we created my show that her voice had to be included.
Q: What was the first impersonation you remember performing?
A: Since I was a little girl, I’ve been singing along to my favorite songs, like most little girls do. But, in terms of actually doing an impression as an adult, I remember driving in my car one day and Sheryl Crow came on the radio and I thought, “I want to sing like her.” So, in my show, I do “Everyday is a Winding Road.”
Q: What’s the hardest voice to perform and why?
A: Believe it or not, Britney Spears was a tough one to master. So many of the singers whose voices I recreate have these big voices that belt out, but for Britney, I had to learn how to keep the voice inside a bit more. Performing Barbra Streisand was tough, too, just because she’s had such a long career, deciding which point in it I wanted to recreate was challenging.
Q: What voice have you never been able to pin down?
A: I would have to say Nicki Minaj. I haven’t spent enough time on her voice yet to say that I throw in the towel, but I think that it’s the combination of her voice and the rhythm that’s the challenge. Man, she’s fast!
Q: What is the extent of your formal vocal training?
A: I am a recording artist back in Canada and I’ve always been working with a vocal coach to try and perfect my technique. Learning how to recreate voices really does take a lot of practice so now I can say that all those years of training really pay off. It can take weeks or months of practice before I’m ready to add a new one to my repertoire because I really want the voice to sound the same as what we are hearing on the albums.
Q: What is your-pre show ritual?
A: I like to come in my dressing room a few hours before the show to warm up my voice – I always use the same vocal exercises – and put on my makeup. This helps me calm down and get mentally ready. Also, my lovely dancers, the Voicettes and I, always huddle up before the show and goof off a little bit. We have so much fun together and that’s what it’s all about when we go on stage!
Q: What do you like to do in Vegas when you’re not performing?
A: I love to golf and the courses out here are amazing. I tell my husband that someday, I’d like to design a line of women’s golf clothing.
Q: Have you tried to impersonate any male singers?
A: In my opening act for Celine in 2008, I had Mika in my lineup. But my show is really meant to pay homage to female singers…so, now I don’t work on male voices. But maybe I could try a young Michael Jackson… or male singers from the ’80s and ’90s; I think some of those voices are high pitched enough for a woman to reproduce.
Q: During the show, you explain how you create some of your voices in terms of visuals… how does this help you when you’re learning a new voice?
A: It doesn’t help me has much when I’m learning the voices, it’s more helpful when I need to switch between voices. The body has muscle memory and for me putting images on some voices seems to allow my body to get in character. For example, when I was trying to learn Tina Turner’s voice, I had to put on my highest heels in order to really get her voice. I think capturing the essence of a singer’s sound is about their mannerisms a lot of the time. Thank goodness for YouTube!
Q: Can anybody learn to become an impersonator?
A: I think everyone can impersonate someone! What’s the saying? “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Most people, when they are around someone long enough, begin to pick up some of that person’s sayings or mannerisms. This probably happens most with our significant others or the ones we love and/or respect the most.
Q: The vocals were just a portion of your impersonations and your body language was another dynamic to making your characters believable. How did you learn how to fully embody not only the voices of different stars, but their physical mannerisms as well?
A: Like I mentioned, thank goodness for YouTube! But, honestly, I think really it’s in not being afraid to exaggerate the mannerisms a little bit. When I imitated Celine in front of her for the first time, I think I held back a little bit on the mannerisms. She said to me, “No, Véronic, if you’re going to do my mannerisms, you have to take them all the way!” That was the encouragement I needed to really go for them.
Q: How do you decide who you want to impersonate?
A: That’s probably the hardest part of putting on my show. There are countless female singers who have made their marks on the history of music and narrowing it down to fit into one show is really difficult. We try to gear it toward the audience. As I mention in my Las Vegas show, when I am in Europe, I don’t really do the country singers. We try to give the audience what we think they’ll most enjoy and pick the singers and the songs to reach the largest audience possible.
Q: You are in incredible shape, how to you stay so fit?
A: Four nights a week now, since we added Monday shows, the Voicettes and I are up on stage doing 90-minutes of choreography. That’s a workout itself, but to do it, I just try to eat right, stay hydrated – especially in the desert – and take care of myself. Recently I’ve discovered things like Barre3 and Pilates on Reformer… it really helps me stay in shape.
Q: If you could just sing one song for the rest of your life, what song would you sing and why?
A: That’s a tough question, because now it’s not only picking a singer, but also a song! I close the show with “I Will Always Love You” in Whitney Houston’s voice. I think that’s a song, and a voice, that will live on forever and that’s why I think we use it to close out the show. But I also love to sing in Karen Carpenter’s voice… and her song “Close to You” moves me so much. You see, I can’t pick only one!
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: I’m back on tour later this month in Canada, then in Europe… but I can’t wait to return to Las Vegas. It’s become my second home and I love it here. Merci! Thank you!