Vocal woes silence show

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 August, 2011, 12:00am


'I am extremely sad to announce that we have to cancel our performance. We will make it up to you, I promise.'

- Simple Plan, August 12

It's common for singers to use voice problems as a reason, or an excuse, to end a show early, call off a meet-and-greet or even cancel a tour. (Although it's funny you never hear drummers complaining about back pain, do you?)

Only last week, Canadian rock band Simple Plan announced that they were cancelling their gig in Hong Kong (and a couple of others in Asia) as their lead singer, Pierre Bouvier, was prescribed two weeks of vocal rest to prevent permanent damage to his voice.

Bouvier's case is not unheard of. Other singers, of all genres of music, have had vocal problems before due to busy tour schedules. What do vocalists Hayley Williams, Whitney Houston, Chester Bennington and Julie Andrews have in common? They've all had their fair share of laryngitis/ pharyngitis/ I-have-to-cancel-a-few-shows-igitis.

Cancelling shows can be potentially devastating to a band, their recording label and their fan base - after all, no artist wants to disappoint their fans. But while you or I may be relaxed about having a sore throat, for professional musicians it's a serious matter: the voice is the tool of their trade, their craft, their ... everything. Voices are insured by record labels.

A cure for a sore throat for us mere mortals might consist of throat candy, anti-inflammatory drugs, honey tea and a lot of rest. But for the likes of Celine Dion, a whole bunch of medical terms are brought into the picture.

Laryngitis is the inflammation of the vocal cords, pharyngitis is the inflammation of the pharynx (the part of the throat directly behind the mouth), and vocal nodules can be described as calluses on the vocal cords from over-exertion. All of these can inflict pain, permanent damage and even reduce vocal range. No wonder medical professionals and vocal coaches are on standby when musicians tour.

For most singers, vocal nodules are a small price to pay for their success. Williams, lead singer of Paramore, has had them since the start of her career. It's just another thing that comes with being on the A-list - paparazzi, media scrutiny and, well, vocal nodules.

Sometimes, the psychological trauma of being diagnosed with vocal nodules can be more serious than the physical pain as they pose a risk to an artist's ongoing career.

Simple Plan fans should be glad that Bouvier's case is not serious. He'll be back on tour in no time.