Singer and Vocalist are two words that are often confused as one and the same. Strictly speaking, there is some difference between the two words. A singer is one who sings film songs or sometimes referred to as a playback singer. On the other hand, a vocalist is the one who sings classical music. This is the main difference between the two words.
In other words, it can be said that a classical singer is called a vocalist, whereas a playback singer is simply called by the name singer. A singer need not undergo training in the classical music or the classical methods of singing. On the other hand, a vocalist should necessarily undergo training in the field of classical music and should sing in the classical mode or the traditional mode.
It is interesting to note that a vocalist gets trained for several years before giving his performance on the stage. On the other hand, a singer has to just get through the audition test to sing a song in a movie. Another important difference between a singer and a vocalist is that a singer can sing light music too. On the other hand, a vocalist has to sing heavy or classical music. He cannot often sing light music. This is an important observation to make when it comes to the difference between a signer and a vocalist.
All vocalists can be singers but all singers cannot be vocalists. This is because of the weight in classical music. Singers that are adept in light music often find it difficult to sing in the classical mode. On the other hand, singers who sing in classical mode can sing in the light mode very easily. These are the main differences between the words, singer and vocalist.