It seems that hardly a month goes by where a top singer isn’t forced to interrupt a tour, take a break, or undergo a medical procedure due to problems with their voice. Vocal health is often taken for granted, but once problems develop, they can stop a singer dead in his or her tracks, and in some cases require surgery and a lengthy post-surgery period of rest and recovery.
While we don’t normally think of singers as world-class athletes, some medical professionals are making the case that the demands put on one’s voice when singing one to three hours a night is as intense as those made by an Olympic marathon runner on his body. Additional factors such as nutrition, smoking, drug use, noisy environments, and proper voice training (or the lack of it) all play a role in a singer’s ability to hit the stage night after night and perform at their best.
Like many health-related issues, prevention is much easier and less expensive than having to undergo surgery, so it’s important to understand how to keep your voice in good health.
Superstars Losing Their Voices
During the last half of 2011, three major recording artists dropped out of circulation due to vocal health issues. Each developed a slightly different voice problem that required rest and eventually surgery.
Arguably, the most valuable voice in pop music at the moment, that of the talented British pop singer Adele, whose sophomore album 21 has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, was silenced when she was required to cancel seventeen US dates mid-tour and have laser surgery due to the condition of her vocal cords. While she is expected to make a full recovery, her condition is just one example of a high profile artist facing problems maintaining their vocal mechanism. Adele’s condition, reported in the press as two hemorrhages of the vocal cords (the terms vocal cords and vocal folds are often used interchangeably), was likely exacerbated by the stresses of touring.