"How do you communicate what you want to hear from a backup singer?"
Johnny - Well, for starters, I always have printed lyrics for the vocalists, and for most folks that becomes their 'scrawling pad’ . . . they doctor it up with breath marks, accents, swoops, capitals, cut-off slashes, dating service phone numbers, whatever helps them remember the nuances of the part. Ultimately, though, my most effective approach is to simply get in the room and sing the parts to them - work it out organically - until I hear what I’m going for, then go in the booth and press the big red record button.