For many, the idea of becoming a singer feels like a pipe dream — and for international vocal coach Cheryl Porter, that's exactly what she was told growing up. Born on the South Side of Chicago, the singer says she was often told that she would never achieve her dream.
That is, until she did.
Even if you haven't seen her lessons on YouTube, you probably recognize her for being James Charles' vocal coach. But before she taught the makeup mogul how to sing, she had to learn herself.
Cheryl Porter didn't want to be a vocal coach. She wanted to be a singer.
Cheryl says as a kid, she had never thought of becoming a vocal coach, but she'd really wanted to be a singer — something she admits the people in her life didn't think she was capable of.
"When I said I wanted to start singing as a child, I didn't have much support," she says. "Everyone thought it was a game, asking 'When are you going to do something serious?'"
Even her mother didn't think she had what it took to sing professionally, though Cheryl says she came around eventually.
"My mother is like my biggest hater," she laughs. "Since I was little, she's like hating on my singing ... Now, to see how everything has blossomed, she's like 'I just can't believe all of this time, I didn't think you could do it, and look at you now.'"
Cheryl's list of accomplishments is long; from singing for the Pope, to being on the Italian soundtrack for Disney's The Lion King, to teaching and performing in more than 35 countries, Cheryl has done it all.
But her decision to be a vocal coach came after she'd had inquiries about teaching. She didn't at the time, but says a conversation with her husband convinced her that passing on the opportunity would do more harm than good.
"You can get someone who changes your life, or you can get someone who destroys you. It was such a delicate place and I didn't want that responsibility," she says. "But it fell into my hands. Then I said 'If it doesn't fall in my hands, who could it fall upon?'"
This was also the start of Cheryl's YouTube channel. She says she recorded all of her lessons so she could look back on them and learn how to be a better teacher, but also decided to upload a few of her videos to potentially help others.
Before she knew it, her channel had amassed more than two million followers in a year — and this was how she met James Charles.
Cheryl taught James using her famous vocal method.
If you're hoping to be taught personally by Cheryl, you'll have to get in line, because her waitlist is a mile long. But one of the few influencers who has been able to snag some personal lessons from Cheryl is none other than James Charles.
After continuously receiving comments suggesting she try to teach him how to sing better, she decided to shoot him a DM — which he replied to "six minutes later."
"James Charles loves to sing, he's gotten a lot of beef about not being able to sing, but the thing I love about James is that he don't care who says he can't sing, he's going to sing anyway — and I love people with that attitude," she said of the beauty guru, who she hinted will make another appearance on her channel very soon.
You might not be able to snag a private lesson with Cheryl anytime soon, but she's offered a variety of classes, both on her YouTube channel and website to help singers.
These classes, she says, were formulated based on the common problems many singers faced, no matter their level, genre, or style. But the most important part of her lessons is she does the best she can to make a student feel as though she's in the room with them — and with some determination, she knows anyone can hone their voice to be achieve their dreams.
"I know it's easier said than done, but the most important thing is that you don't let people's opinions of you take you off the track of your life and your destiny," she says. "I just want singers to know that the voice they have today is not the voice that they're going to have tomorrow ... Because if you train your voice, if you really train and you believe in just a little bit of talent — you don't have to have a huge talent to become a fantastic singer."