Secrets Behind The Voice
For those of you who may not know, my voice is not normal. Normally when people first hear me they ask me if I am sick, or tell me that I should drink tea to feel better. But the fact of the matter is that is my voice. Then when you proceed to tell them that your voice is a gift and you can sing really well this look of disbelief goes across their face. I can imagine their thoughts now… “How can this kid with a broken voice sing?“. They will never believe me for a second.
But when you run into me one day and I’m practicing guitar or playing a concert people absolutely love it. This contrast is hard for me to handle sometimes. To go from being shy and people not hearing you when you talk , to people cheering you on in one day. That’s what its like to be me.
It all started when I was 8 years old. I was playing with my good child hood friend. This is the type of friend that you would look out the window and wait for him to come over for hours. Well, one night we were sumo wrestling with pillows in our shirts. You would think that a pillow would make you safe when you play around right? Well I have always been skinny. So when he bumped into me really hard I could not catch myself. I fell and hit my throat on the corner of the table. It was terrifying but it didn’t hurt very much. It just felt like something was missing and really wrong.
I remember that I would cough up blood and my mom was really freaked out. They grabbed me and put me in the car and were gone in 2 seconds. We used to live out in Edgewood, New Mexico; where at the time was far away from everything. So my dad decided to drive to the nearest hospital in Albuquerque which is usually 1 hour and 15 minutes drive. He sped really fast and got me there quick. I remember that in the car my mom told me that if I wanted to go and I saw a light to just go and she still loved me.
This is really hard for somebody to hear when they are that young. But to be honest with you I did not fully understand what was going on. I remember getting to the hospital and they didn’t really care what was going on with me. It took them an hour to get me in the back. Once they figured out what was wrong with me I was instantly in an ambulance to UNM Hospital in ABQ.
Blank. I wake up and my mom is next to me. She said that my dad could not get in to see me because the hospital is on lockdown. It must have been some sort of gangfight or something. Blank again… I remember getting up to go get a MRI taken of my throat to see what is going on. By this point I was already in the hospital for over 2 weeks. I don’t remember any of it. One second I was looking out the window of an ambulance and the next second I wake up in a bed to The Three Stooges and horrible hospital food. In that time I was in a comma for 1.5 weeks. I already had 3 surgeries. I was hooked up to tubes to feed me and put in a diaper to go to the bathroom. Of course that is what everyone tells me. I had effectively severed one of my vocal chords and it was hanging by a piece of flesh.
I remember going in to have the surgery and they would give me gas instead of injections because kids like it more. Well I hated the gas. Passing out like that feels really wrong and waking up feels wrong. At least when you do it through an IV you just don’t remember anything.
Blank again. By this point I have a lot of black spots in my memory. Time I will never get back or understand what happened. This would happen 1 more time for a total of 5 surgeries on my throat. I still was in and out of the hospital for 6 months doing vocal therapy and going through problems. I remember when my mom decided to put me back on my Adderall for ADHD. I was used to taking 32mg from before the injury. But I didn’t have any for 6 months. Those pills were so strong they made me stay up for 48 hours and go cross eyed for a while. Needless to say I didn’t take Adderall again.
Blank again. I am at home. I am having a really hard time holding things like pop sicles and food. Anything solid I can not eat and everything hurts my throat to eat it. It’s really hard to put my days together. I keep trying really hard to order the events of the past two weeks but I just can’t seem to put it together. I remember I had a lot of school work I had to do in order to get to the next grade on time. I would often watch movies and basically lived on the couch. Every movie that I watched during that time I hate… I really don’t know why.
We keep going back for vocal therapy, and checkups every few weeks. I end up having another surgery. Apparently when your neck and vocal chords have an injury it tries to heal itself by growing things. Unfortunately when things have already been fixed this actually hurts you more then it helps. It starts to close off my throat and makes it hard to breathe and eat.
I remember going in to take the surgery and they had these old school combo locks. One of the ones that has 3 numbers that go 1-9. I sat their waiting so long for my surgery that I opened one of these locks in the kids waiting room. Just going 1 number at a time.
Back To School
When I went back to school you would think it would be over but it was not. That one thing labeled me as the outcast in school forever. From the moment I opened my mouth to speak people knew I was different and that was unpleasant. In middleschool people used to tell me that my voice was bad because I sucked my dads dick so hard. In high school I was not able to sing in the school band. In university teachers would refuse to teach me and tell me that I need to get medical attention. This followed me throughout my life.
It wasn’t until I was 14 that I actually started to try and sing. And it was Horrible!! Check out this video below to see just how bad I used to be.
At this time I had 0 training at all. Vocal teachers told me that I should not sing because it might make my voice worse. Of course I did not listen to them…and the more I did not listen the better I got.
I never had a groundbreaking experience on my voice until I met one teacher in Group Voice at UNM. He would keep pushing me because he knew I had more. Unfortunately that was short lived and after that it was hard for me to get the proper education that I needed.
My First Concert
When I was 23 I finally found a teacher that could help me out. Someone who’s skills and knowledge of the voice and how it works was unmatched. Not only did he have the medical degree to help me but he also had the singing one. His name is Keith Harker. Within 2 months of learning with Keith I was able to break through more walls then I ever had before. I was on track to be the person I dreamed of faster and faster by the day.
Stay tuned to read some more stories about Austin Reed and his pursuit to be a Touring Musician.