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July 14, 2015

Why Are So Many Singers Canceling Concerts due to Injured Vocal Cords?

There have been numerous celebrity singers who have cancelled concerts and even tours due to vocal cord injury of some kind. Although many blame poor vocal technique in such pop singers, my feeling is probably a very demanding schedule with no backup and severe financial pressure to perform even if the vocal cords are a bit off when vocal crest would have been preferred.

Here's a few singers who have cancelled over the years:

Miranda Lambert - July 2015
• Meghan Trainor - July 2015
• Chad Kroeger - June 2015
• Sam Smith - April 2015
• Nathan Sykes - April 2013
• Nicki Manaj - August 2012
• Florence Welch - July 2012
• Maxwell - June 2012
• Keith Urban - Nov 2011
• Adele - Oct 2011
• John Mayer - September 2011
• Scott Weiland - September 2011

Demanding Schedule

Meghan Trainor who cancelled her concert in July 2015 had fourteen performances scheduled in July, ten scheduled for August, and four for the first week of September for a total of twenty-eight performances in twenty-one cities.

That's a lot!!!

And it's in large, loud, boisterous venues which tends to make singers sing more aggressively just from the excitement.

And just like a highly competitive athlete, injury can happen with frequent aggressive performances without adequate time for rest in between.

No Backup

When Meghan Trainor suffers an injury... there is no backup. If her voice is a bit off, there is no understudy who can replace her unlike in the professional opera world where there IS a backup understudy. However, opera singers have their own unique pressures described in more detail here.

When a football player gets hurt, there are other players who can jump in to play.

No so for celebrity pop singers. As such, there is a tendency to "push through" and perform even if the vocal cords are a bit off. Do this too often and the vocal cords will eventually get injured.

Financial Pressures

When millions of dollars are lost in financial revenue due to a cancelled concert, all of it falls on the singer.

Who pays the venue that ended up not being used? The singer.

Who refunds all those expensive tickets purchased? The singer.

Who pays the workers who have setup the venue for the concert? The singer.

Who suffers the backlash from their fans for canceling the concert? The singer.

Of course, the singer also loses out on a paycheck.


So now you can understand the pressures that lead such celebrity singers to perform... no desperate to perform...  that they try to ignore warning signs until the last possible moment resulting in an unexpected concert cancellation.

You can also understand why some, because of such pressures, have resorted to lip-synching rather than canceling a concert due to injured vocal cords.

You can read more regarding what happens behind the scenes when a concert gets cancelled in this interesting Washington Post article.

Sources:
Celebrity Vocal Fold Problems: It's Not Necessarily Tjeir Technique That's at Fault. AuditioningForCollege 6/11/15
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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