What cortical inputs are provided to motor control areas while they drive complex learned behaviors? We study this question in the nucleus interface of the nidopallium (NIf), which is required for normal birdsong production and provides the main source of auditory input to HVC, the driver of adult song. In juvenile and adult zebra finches, we find that spikes in NIf projection neurons precede vocalizations by several tens of milliseconds and are insensitive to distortions of auditory feedback. We identify a local isometry between NIf output and vocalizations: quasi-identical notes produced in different syllables are preceded by highly similar NIf spike patterns. NIf multiunit firing during song precedes responses in auditory cortical neurons by about 50 ms, revealing delayed congruence between NIf spiking and a neural representation of auditory feedback. Our findings suggest that NIf codes for imminent acoustic events within vocal performance.