A laryngologist writes: Stop judging Adele. We are all at risk

Paul E. Kwak, MD, laryngologist and laryngeal surgeon at the NYU Voice Center, has written a fascinating view of current vocal myths for the excellent Schmopera site.


We who care for singers are certainly not unused to the chatter, the gossip, the verbal bile that can flow so freely and unbidden in these circles. But at a moment of a singer’s self-professed greatest vulnerability, this kind of backlash is insulting and disgraceful, and blemishes the stone-throwers far more tellingly than it tarnishes Adele’s contributions. This kind of commentary seeks to divide rather than unite those who should work collaboratively to care for and support singers. I constantly reiterate in seminars and conversations with young singers-in- training the importance of multidisciplinary care – as I like to say, the importance of having a voice “squad.” I respect the wisdom of so many voice teachers and coaches, who have built methodologies based on years of experience and training. One of the forefathers of academic laryngology, Manuel Garcia, was himself first a great singing teacher, and indeed, also a forefather of vocal pedagogy. It is right that medical and artistic practitioners should be partners in the education and cultivation of a singing voice. However, what I am addressing here is rather the danger of opinion offered without knowledge of the specific case, or indeed in the absence and disregard of vocal science. This amounts to an insidious vocal fear-mongering that seems to arise out of antiquated anecdotalism, centering on the following myths…

Read on here.

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  • The best ENT consultant ever was T G Wilson M.B, Litt D., F.R.S.C.I, M.R.I.A, his biography of Sir William Wilde is excellent.

  • The author of the essay makes a number of valid points. That said, it’s not that people are necessarily shaming Adele, when we have expressed concern for her instrument and the difficulties she has experienced with it.

    One point begs for elaboration:

    “Singers in training might perform recitals for groups of 20-50; stars at The Metropolitan Opera will often sing to a full house of 3,000. Adele walks out and looks at 20,000 strangers, who know every lyric and note she is about to sing, hang on each one, and are recording her performance on their iPhones.”

    One huge difference: her voice is amplified. She is not trying to project to 20,000 people, or at least she shouldn’t be attempting to do so; the sound system should take care of that for her.

      • I know who she is, but If I didn’t know, nothing would change in my life.

        By the way, considering pop standards your description would fit also for Madonna, Beyonce and many other. Who cares about some wrong notes in a gig inside a big stadium, along powerfull amplifiers?

        Anyway, nevermind. I was just wondering if Adele is overestimated or not. Before my own opinion, I wanna see her doing “casta diva” of Norma, Abigaille of Verdi’s Nabucco, wagner’s Brunnhilde or perhaps Berg’s Lulu. Ok, perhaps something not too old such Ariel of Adés’s The tempest. Because I just cannot stand her repertorie

  • He may be a very good laryngologist, but this is offensive to so many singers (with good, reliable, healthy vocal techniques, acquired through many years of hard studies) and singing teachers (many of whom have heard and corrected and fought some of their students imitating Adele´s OBVIOUS vocal faults. If he cannot hear them, he might be deaf).

    Adele´s injury was a Chronic of an announced death. I don´t know many opera singers who have so many injuries in their ´20. Nor do I know many opera singers, who earn their livings with their voices, dare to go on stage completely untrained. And we only have our own resonators to amplify our voices.

    Adele can surely pay her vocal recovery bills. What about so many youngsters, who imitate her harsh and off range voice, and get hoarse? Who is paying for their recovery and reeducation?

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