Preserve The Voice

The best singers blend softer ballads with multi-octave rifts.

By Kevin RR Williams

HEALTH Professional singers can send chills down our spines. They are "vocal athletes" who push themselves beyond the limits of admiring spectators. In order to bring the best performances that audiences crave, entertainers might sacrifice the vocal cords we cherish so much.

Vocal Cord Nodules

Voice altering vocal cord polyps are, to singers, the torn meniscus of professional athletes. Most people would describe the former as hoarseness. You can hear the undesirable effects of vocal polyps in the sidebar video.

Vocal cord nodules are benign (noncancerous) growths on vocal cords caused by vocal abuse. Over time, repeated stress of the vocal cords results in soft, swollen spots on both vocal cords. These spots develop into harder, callous-like growths called nodules. Anyone experiencing a voice change lasting longer than three weeks should see an otolaryngologist (a.k.a. Ear, Nose and Throat doctor). [1]

Once hardened, treatment may require excision. Rehabilitation with or without surgical intervention can involve speech and language pathologists (particularly those with training and expertise in voice professionals). They aim to help patients recognize overuse that might not be obvious to the entertainer. [2]

Ways to Preserve Your Voice

Singers may use a voice spray to lubricate and protect delicate vocal cords during performances. There are many products, including Clear Voice, Entertainer's Secret, Saving Grace®, Thayers Dry Mouth Spray, and Vocal Eze.

Season 2 contestant on The Voice, Jesse Campbell offers the following practical advice. "Sufficient sleep. Little to NO dairy. Speaking strains the vocal folds more than singing - so, stop talking so much." Here are suggestions from Dr. Tom Abelson from The Cleveland Clinic. [3]

  1. Rest
  2. Avoid smoggy and polluted air
  3. Avoid dehydration
  4. Avoid talking over background noise
  5. Avoid straining and screaming for extended periods of time

Stop talking so much.
—Jesse Campbell

You don't need to be a singer to develop vocal cord nodules. Salespersons (13%) report the highest risk followed by teachers (4.2%), then receptionists (0.76%) according to 1994 US Bureau of Labor Statistics. [4] In fact, only 0.02% of U.S. singers seek help at voice centers. Long-term cigarette smoking, coffee drinking, shouting, hypothyroidism, and GERD may also cause polyp formation. [1] Limit or treat such conditions to remain A Bit More Healthy.

The Voices We Love

In my opinion, some of the best singers that have appeared on the international hit television series, The Voice, are not necessarily the ones who win the prize. In fact, the show is a springboard for the discovery of great talent. I hereby present some of the most outstanding performances from the U.S. version of The Voice. What makes these renditions so compelling is the fact the artists are actually singing, not lip-syncing prerecorded tracts. So delight in their pure talent and unmistakable stage presence. To my knowledge, NONE listed have any voice jeopardizing health condition.

Best Performances on The Voice

Licensing restrictions change periodically. Therefore, at some point, videos may be subject to removal or require viewing directly on YouTube or other sites. HD versions of the Campbell-Evans battle or Bourg could not be embedded. Best quality sound for these performances are available from YouTube or iTunes download.

Jesse Campbell vs. Anthony Evans: "If I Ain't Got You"
NBC The Voice, Season 2 Battle Round in HD. Original song by Alicia Keys.
Trevin Hunte vs. Amanda Brown: "Vision of Love"
NBC The Voice, Season 3 Battle Round. Original song by Mariah Carey.
Nicholas David: "What's Going On"
NBC The Voice, Season 3 performance. Original song by Marvin Gaye.
MacKenzie Bourg: "Call Me Maybe"
NBC The Voice, Season 3 Battle Round. Original song by Carly Rae Jepsen.
Michelle Chamuel: "Call Your Girlfriend"
NBC The Voice, Season 4 performance. Original song by Robyn.
Trevin Hunte: "And I'm Telling You"
NBC The Voice, Season 3 performance. Original song by Jennifer Holliday.
Amanda Brown: "Dream On"
NBC The Voice, Season 3 performance. Original song by Aerosmith.

There are many more spectacular performances from Amanda Brown who sings and dominates a stage with the intensity of a young Tina Turner. Trevin Hunte croons with the sultriness of Luther Vandross. Nicholas David is in a soulful class by himself. The Jesse Campbell battle with Anthony Evans has received more YouTube views and public outrage for early elimination than most of the other contestant videos combined. With her pristine voice quality, Michelle Chamuel is a musical embodiment of a nerd's fantasy. And since geeks own the most gadgets for voting and consumption of media, her self-proclaimed nerdiness is an advantage. You can fill your iPod or iPhone with all of their music. Some performers even have prior albums on iTunes.

I wish them each the best in their respective careers and trust that they forever preserve the voice. It would be fantastic to get a sponsor for these artists to appear in a television special together. It's doubtful that any would decline a movie soundtrack deal either. Though other season 4 contestants have beautiful voices, I believe Michelle is the front runner because of her distinctive style. Which is your favorite?

Special thanks to Jesse Campbell for his talent and contributions to this article.

Tags: entertainment, health, otolaryngology, stage performances, therapy, videos

References
  1. Vocal Cord Nodules and Polyps. asha.org ^
  2. 5 questions about vocal cord surgery. pennlive.com ^
  3. Five ways to protect and preserve your voice. wkyc.com ^
  4. Save Your Voice, Save Your Career. Duke Medicine, youtube.com ^
  5. Image courtesy of Jesse Campbell.