Mariah bidding on her voice

Tuesday 12 February 2002

Rumors have been spreading that Mariah Carey may be undergoing a risky surgery. It's not a cosmetic surgery, as many would think, but instead an operation that would help salvage her golden pipes. Ever since her 1990 debut, the pop diva has been working at a non-stop pace, putting out an album every year and touring every other year. This has caused Carey to form vocal nodules, which have damaged her voice due to its overuse.
Normal vocal cords have smooth, white mucosal surfaces without any irregularities on the vibrating borders. Excessive tension or force used when singing or speaking often "overloads" the vibration of the vocal cords, resulting in too much friction. A bruise on the vibrating edge develops, generally occurring at the anterior one-third of the vocal cord, which is the point of maximal contact during phonation. Later, fibrous tissue replaces the hematoma, becomes larger, and eventually appears as a soft or hard white nodule.
Such nodules have caused problems with Carey's vocal production and her condition has developed for the worst in the past few years. Repeated hoarseness, breathy and husky tones and the need to use greater-than-normal breath pressure to sustain the voice (thereby increasing the overall effort of singing) are danger signals that Carey has experienced since 1998 and many others have noticed, as well.
Usually, nodules can be cured and prevented with proper vocal technique and a sensible lifestyle, which includes necessary rest and relaxation, aerobic exercise, and a healthy diet. In fact, recent studies of the laryngeal biomechanics of singers at the Center For Voice Disorders have shown that excessive muscle tension patterns in the larynx are greatly reduced in singers with vocal training, as compared to singers who have never studied voice.
Carey has taken note of that, too. Since her emotional breakdown last summer, the singer has taken more time to relax her voice and has been seeing a vocal coach at the advice of her mother. Although this has greatly improved Carey's voice and has it sounded like it did before her hoarseness took over, an ever-perfectionist, Carey is looking to surgery to restore her voice to it's full capacity - as it sounded in 1990.
Usually, those suffering with vocal nodules have difficulty singing in the upper register, especially the inability to sing high notes. Obviously, Carey's vocal chores are very unique, because the singer has been able to perform those high notes, which have been her trademark. But it is these "high notes" that have added to the seriousness of her voice. They have caused a permanent airiness to Carey's voice, which is why she is considering having the surgery.
If the nodules were to be removed, Carey's voice would be stronger and less airy. However, there is a very risky side to the operation. It's rarely performed and could result in Carey losing her ability to use her "high note" effect or even worse - it could result in permanent damage to her vocal chords, leaving Mariah unable to sing for the rest of her life (a la Julie Andrews). We think Carey should just stick to her current voice for now. It's sounds great to us.

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