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Vocal Chord Damage: Musicians Nightmare



Every day, we tune in to music channels to watch our favorite artistes sing out their hearts just to thrill us. We enjoy the songs and never consider the rigor the artiste must have put in to get the music right. And as time goes on and they continue to sing, some of these artistes have their vocal cords damaged and need one form of treatment or the other. In some sad cases, the artiste is never able to sing again. In this report, ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM, takes a look at some artistes who have had vocal cord crisis and are still in the game.

A singer’s lifestyle is very different from the average person – they need to have enough energy for a performance, but not eat so much that they fall asleep. They have to sing with power but must be careful to not damage an organ or two. As much as it is easy to endure the first, the second is not anyone’s to hold down especially when you have a fan base that expects a lot from you like it is with Tekno Miles.

The promising artiste, producer and one time LEADERSHIP Entertainer of the Year, recently revealed that he had damaged his vocal cords and would be unable to sing or perform. The news, which is heartbreaking, especially as Christmas draws near, is coming weeks after the singer took to Instagram to ask his fans to pray for his recovery from an undisclosed illness.

But Tekno is not the first neither will he be the last musician to be in this situation.

Frank Ocean

Well celebrated entertainer, Frank Ocean, found out just how risky singing professionally can be when he suffered a small tear to his vocal cords. It forced him to cancel several Australian tour dates that he had coming up and forced the organisers of Toronto’s OVO Festival to cancel the first day of their event.


Award winning Adele also suffered vocal cord damage in October of 2011. After canceling a 10-city United States tour because of a benign polyp that was causing one of her vocal cords to hemorrhage, the British singer underwent surgery in Boston. Since then, her vocal cords have returned to form and her surgery is now considered a success.

Young Jeezy

Also in 2011, an American rapper, Young Jeezy, suffered the same predicament. In his own case, he never specified exactly when he suffered an injury to his vocal cords, he simply disappeared for much of 2011 and, when he returned in 2012, explained that vocal cord surgery was to blame for his absence. He also revealed that he had to take seven months off rapping and relearn how to talk and rap properly because of his injured vocal cords. “It took…three months for me to learn to speak again,” he said. “It was a whole process.”

John Mayer

In the case of John Mayer, his March 2012 episode of vocal cord damage was actually the second vocal cord injury in his career. After having a granuloma removed from one of his vocal cords in late 2011, it reappeared in early 2012 and required surgery. It forced him to take an “indefinite hiatus” and also caused him to cancel a bunch of tour dates.

Joe Budden

Joe Budden suffered vocal cord damage in May, 2003. His was so bad he randomly lost his voice in the middle of one of his shows, Jumpoff. He later visited a doctor in New York City and discovered that he had a polyp on one of his vocal cords. It forced him to shut down and forced his label Def Jam to rush his debut album out with several older songs that were recorded long before his first big hit, ‘Pump It Up,’ hit the radio.

Nicki Minaj

This rapper has also suffered vocal cord damage. Back in August, 2012, after doing a show in New York City against doctor’s orders, Nicki was diagnosed with strained vocal cords. Fortunately, it didn’t turn into a big problem for her. But she did need to cancel a couple of appearances in the United Kingdom in order to heal her vocal cords and avoid causing further damage.

Machine Gun Kelly

In late 2010, Machine Gun Kelly suffered vocal cord damage. The artiste was then forced to stay out of the studio for six months after developing a polyp on one of his vocal cords. But because he didn’t have any health insurance at the time, surgery wasn’t an option. Instead, he had to work the polyp off by doing different vocal exercises every day. “Every night I’d wake up at 4 o’clock wanting to blow my brains out,” he said later. “That was one of the most depressing periods of my life.”

Justin Bieber

Not even Justin Bieber is left out of cord injuries. He too had to endure damage to his vocal cords in late 2010.

During his ‘My World Tour’ that year, Bieber encountered vocal cord issues for the first time in his career. Because he was performing so often and because he was still so young, he was having difficulty singing some of his songs. But fortunately, he was able to overcome those issues by working with a vocal coach and didn’t have to miss much time on the road. The issues were documented in Bieber’s 2011 film, ‘Never Say Never.’

Alicia Keys

This soulful sister in April, 2008, faced her own challenge with a damaged vocal cord. Keys had to cancel two tour dates because of swollen vocal cords. And at other times in her career, she has also struggled with vocal cord issues while on stage. For instance, during the filming of her ‘VH1 Storytellers’ show, Keys’ voice gave out on her several times. The same thing happened a little more a month later during a Hurricane Sandy relief benefit.

Jordin Sparks

Jordin Sparks damage her vocal chord in April, 2008. Doctors told Sparks that her vocal cord injury was so bad that it could jeopardise her career. They also told her that she had to completely rest her vocal cords for two weeks, which meant that she couldn’t talk, laugh, giggle, or sing for 14 days. Fortunately, the rest did her vocal cords well and she’s since come back better than ever. But her story serves as a reminder of just how dangerous a vocal cord injury can be.

It is also important to note that the best protection is a good posture and sound vocal technique. Voices always need to be supported by the bigger muscles in the body – poor posture can lead to muscular tension and vocal strain. There are also other factors which might be less obvious.

Singers need to keep their bodies hydrated, so that the delicate vocal folds (or cords) can be kept supple. They would probably drink between two and three litres of water spread out throughout the day. The water would be at room temperature, rather than ice-cold.

We wish Tekno quick recovery because as stated above, he’s not the first artiste to have vocal chord related issues. With time his voice would voice back.





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