Artists across differing styles have had to sort out vocal trouble to varying degrees including the likes of Steven Tyler, Julie Andrews and Celine Dion. Sam Smith had to cancel a run of tour dates after suffering a vocal haemorrhage, Meghan Trainor also had to postpone shows in July of last year with Jess Glynne having to go through vocal surgery the year prior to that.
Adele shocked fans earlier this summer (sadly not the first time) with a letter shared via social media cancelling the last 2 Wembley dates of her long awaited tour due to vocal health problems. For any artist to make this decision, it must be heartbreaking. The guilt she likely felt is an uncomfortable thought, all too aware of the money fans spent and having to cancel the plans made in travelling to see her. An incredible 200,000 tickets had to be refunded!
Only the singer knows their limits and she made a wise decision to back off rather than pushing through something that could do some serious lasting damage. It's imperative for a vocalist to understand instinctively when to carry on and when to stop and relax.
There certainly seems to have been an influx of stars revealing their voice injury woes recently, perhaps a positive move in that the demanding schedules placed on the vocalist may be more considered in the future?
Adele is well known for her big, belty ballads. Emotive and relatable to millions, she’s created a following that make her one of the biggest selling female artists of this generation. In the recording studio on a couple of afternoons, getting those notes out aren’t going to be such a problem. But throw in 2/3 interviews a day, lack of sleep, dusty theatres, stress, air conditioned airplane cabins, erratic eating AND a pack of ciggies, inflammation and vocal fatigue are surely inevitable. Schedules certainly appear just too hectic for todays artists.
“I don’t have lessons, I probably don’t have a great technique.”
Breath management is certainly worth a mention. If too much air pressure builds up beneath the vocal cords, it will cause them to collide at a higher impact, putting them under greater pressure. If you stood there clapping your hands together for an hour, they would be red and sore! So no wonder a hectic tour schedule may take it's toll.
Sam Smiths vocal coach had something to say about Adele’s approach to singing...
“She’s got an easygoing attitude which people love, but you can’t do that with your artistry,”
he told The Sun.
“She has an artistic responsibility for the lovely people who have bought her tickets,
and she did not take responsibility of her vocals. This is evident.”
- Anthony Wade
A vocal coach faces a potential tricky situation with an already established artist. Having created a following with record sales based on a particular sound, making the vocal safe and maintaining style already adopted by the artist is key. The style is what draws people to an artist so you don’t want to strip it away and lose the artist their audience.
A technical way around the intensity of using a 'chest' heavy vocal would be to train more of a ‘mixed’ register; the use of both the chest (TA) and head (CT) muscles working more harmoniously. It certainly takes the pressure off but done correctly, it won't reduce the emotiveness and sincerity of the delivery. It would be great to be able to access that if you knew it would get you through the 8 show week. It would sound exactly the same to the audience... and save you a lot of internal turmoil of where to frickin' place stuff.
"The Best Time To Deal With A Vocal Injury Is Yesterday."
- Reena Gupta, Laryngologist
This absolutely resonates (pardon the pun) with me. I always felt like if it ‘felt’ like I was trying then the audience was getting what they paid for. Can you imagine it being so easy that it didn’t feel lie effort in the slightest?! I’d feel like a fraud! Ridiculous now but looking back I WISH I’d just sat back and trusted what was there.
I have had to resort to steroid use in the past through desperation when my technique was not strong enough. They became a necessity to save the embarrassment of pulling out of an 8 show week. I was in weekly lessons at this point and training my voice daily, but it was too little, too late! Had my voice been in a technically stronger position before I started the job in question, life would have been a hell of a lot less stressful. They are a last resort, but sometimes there's no other option.
But what would keep the last resort at bay, is to get on top of that vocal technique!