I read an article about Adele’s latest surgery and the general acceptance that this is all just part of being a vocalist these days. I guess the only reason this seems so absurd to me is that I was lucky enough to have a great teacher and learn a fantastic technique when I was 17 so everything was always fixable, and the idea of singing with so much pressure that it was a medical risk was just not even an option. There’s always a better way and I’m not one that supports overly technical and antiseptic performances. The reason to have a strong technique is to be able throw it out the window and make the emotional connection. But there’s a line and we all know that from the first sore throat from over-singing.
I’m also not condemning all singers who have opted for surgery. It’s here for a reason and I’m sure that many singers are grateful for the results. I am however, a little taken aback that the tone of the article was that in order to be a pro, surgeries are a part of the gig. Having a problem is one thing, continuing to sing while hurting your voice so badly that you need to have surgery again is absurd to me. Even the Doctors admit there is a strong possibility of hitting the wrong nerve and doing catastrophic damage. Remember Julie Andrews ended her glorious singing career after her surgery.
We all love hearing the rasp, the growl, the drama and humanity that the voice reveals but I really don’t think any of us are interested in seeing our favorite artists going into surgery just for one more scream, scratch or whisper. I actually believe the opposite. I believe that when the vocalist is clicking on all cylinders, the sound is matching the emotion, which is creating the vibration within the singer on its way to the listener and it is satisfying for both. The same way I would be able to tell a long story with all the right inflections and all the right dynamics so the listener would feel like they were right there, and I would not need to go on 2 weeks vocal rest afterwards. Know what I mean, jellybean ??
I love Adele, and I loved Whitney and we all adored Mariah in her early albums and here’s my 2 cents on these women and their voices. Clearly these ladies SING! And they were probably amazing at 12, 13 years old. But I’ve said in several blogs that being a natural at something isn’t always to your advantage. If everything comes so easily with no attention paid to the right and wrong of it, there are no reference points or vocabulary in play when things start going wrong. And of course when you’re a money making machine, no one is interested in stopping that train for a voice lesson.
I will quote my friend Nancy Koch the dancer, again, with one of my favorites – “Being a professional dancer does not mean that you never fall off your releve’, It means you don’t make a jackass of yourself while its happening.” In other words, there are options, professional options that you learn as you go to continue to satisfy the audience and not crash and burn.
So, start building your options now!! Lesson 1 is free and when you are done you will want lesson 2 !