How to Learn Singing “I Shot the Sheriff” from Bob Marley & the Wailers

Learning to Sing “I Shot the Sheriff” by Bob Marley & the Wailers

The song, “I Shot The Sheriff” is an iconic reggae piece by Bob Marley & the Wailers, where the rhythm of the words holds as much importance as the melody. The vocals require a steady sense of timing and control over articulation. Let’s delve into the details.

Step 1: Song Analysis

The song uses syncopated rhythms and complex melodies, requiring substantial control over articulation. Also, singing reggae involves managing tension and release in your delivery.

Step 2: Understanding the Vocal Technique

Marley’s singing style is relaxed; he holds back the tempo slightly, giving a ‘behind the beat’ feel. This usage of ‘laid-back’ syncopation is common in reggae music, demanding higher voice analysis skills in a singer.

Step 3: Vocal Training & Tools

Understanding your own vocal range aids in adjusting a song such as “I Shot The Sheriff” to suit your voice. You can use the Vocal Range Test to uncover your vocal capabilities. Also, the Pitch Training tool can help you develop your ear and improve pitch accuracy.

Step 4: Practicing the Song

Practice along with the original recording, aiming to match Marley’s unique vocal style. Remember, you need to maintain relaxation, letting the rhythm carry your voice.

Step 5: Perform and Monitor Your Progress

Lastly, sing the song without the track, using the Vocal Pitch Monitor to review your performance. Remember, progress might be slow, but regular practice will enhance your skills.

Exploring the Unique Vocal Technique Further

This laid-back vocal style isn’t limited to reggae. It’s seen in different genres, like pop, R&B, soul, and even rock. Artists like Justin Bieber (“Sorry”) and Beyonce (“Hold Up”) have borrowed it to enrich their vocal performances.


Understanding the underlying techniques of a song helps improve your singing and musical knowledge. Plus, it allows you to truly appreciate the famed singers who master these subtle elements. Happy practicing!