Hi bigtree!! Hi Chris!!
bigtree, I can understand what you're saying...I find very useful to take a first, huge step. Listening and imitating your favourite singers. I've been listening and singing along the songs of my "style teachers" since I was a little girl, and It's still part of my practicing routine. At first, maby you still soud broadway ish, but here's a place were you can compare, and incorporate gradually what you need to sound the way you want. As singers, we have to remember that we have an internal, organic instrument, wich can be a big problem, but also a big, plastic tool, with wich you can play and create whatever you want!
Of course, you need to complement this with a strong vocal technique, with I recomend to take from a good teacher, not yourself alone with a book.
Chris, I agree with you when you recommend experimenting with talking, i think it's not only a way of earning expression, but also (if well pitched), an exellent technique resource for keeping your vocal chords prepared to sing, without having to take a big, Dangerous jump, from talking to singing. This helps avoiding chord damage.
It would be great to have a Singers or Vocal Forum, if this is possible!!!