LOS ANGELES (CBS) — More on Lisa Sigell’s interview with Who frontman Roger Daltrey as well as the doctor, Steven Zeitels, credited with helping him get his singing voice back.
In 1997, the voice that drew the world to her was silenced. Julie Andrews was unable to sing, all after a throat operation. It wasn’t until a few years ago she returned to the stage in this concert at the Hollywood Bowl with what she calls speak sing.
And she credits Dr. Steven Zeitels with helping her regain some ofher voice, director of the Mass General Voice Center, also a professor at Harvard Medical School. He’s worked with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Cher and the Who’s Roger Daltrey.
He sat down with me for an exclusive interview. He, too, was in danger of losing his voice and went through a special laser procedue to restore it just weeks before performing at the Super Bowl last year.
These super star clients of Dr. Zeitel’s are a small percentage of the patients he treats. The majority are just like us. People who use our voices everyday in work, with family in some cases medical problems cause voice loss, but the majority of problems are from over use.
The doctor says 90 percent of our jobs are communication based. People are working more, talking more, call phones, the digital age, and our voices simply cannot keep up.
This is what a healthy vocal chord looks like. Over time it goes from pliable to stiff, and the chords can’t vibrate like they need to, to create normal sound. That’s what causes the majority of voice loss.
New laser technology has been at the forefront of restoring voices over the past decade. But a breakthrough is on the horizon.
Dr. Zeitels and his team, along with Robert Langer, at MIT have spent the last decade working on a treatment they they believe will change this field forever.
Essentially it’s a bio-material gel that simulates regular vocal chord vibration on the right normal vocal chords, on the left, the gel acting the exact same way.
Here’s how it will work. The gel will be injected into stiff vocal chords…that have lost their ability to create normal sound. Within moments they will be pliable again and the voice will be as it was decades before.
The bio-gel project has been completely funded through patients and donors. It’s work like that has Daltrey, joining, Andrews, Tyler and others to raise money and awareness for the Institute of Laryngology and Voice Restoration.
It’s a cause media mogal, filmmaker and philanthropist Peter Guber believes in…holding one of its biggest fundraisers at his home.
And Roger Daltrey knows better than anyone that his voice is his instrument. He says his voice is doing great.
And now he treats that instrument with great respect. And he is careful not to overuse it.
As for Julie Andrews, she continues to help fight for others with voice problems. And at the same time, Dr. Zeitels is hoping someday to restore hers, so she can sing with the full range she used to. Music to her ears, and ours.
Lisa Sigell, KCAL 9 News
For more information about the Harvard MGH voice center, click on the following link: http://www.mgh.harvard.edu/voicecenter/
And for more information about the Institute of Laryngology and Voice Restoration, click here: http://www.ilvr.org/