A new voice

Local singer prepares to perform after vocal injury

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/11/2014 (2939 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s been a long time since Jaylene Johnson has shared her music onstage. But after a nearly two-year performing hiatus, the Crescentwood musician is ready to sing again.

In 2012, one of Johnson’s vocal cords were injured by an intubation tube during a routine day surgery. Since that time she’s been unable to perform and even speak normally.

“Most of the time intubation doesn’t cause injury,” Johnson said over the phone from Toronto where she was visiting her doctor. “It was a fluke thing.”

Supplied photo - Scott Urwin Nov. 12, 2014 - Singer Jaylene Johnson will perform publicly for the first time since a surgery injured her vocal cord. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

Johnson has announced she will perform at The Purple Room at Frame Arts Warehouse (318 Ross Ave.) on Nov. 22 for the first time since the injury.

“I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t say I have some anxiety,” Johnson said. “It’s stressful. I have to remember I do this because I love it.

“My heart says share music with people. I can’t wait to do that again.”

For much of the past two years, Johnson has been playing a waiting game. It took a number of doctor’s appointments and some trial and error to figure out what was preventing the full function of her voice.

“I could produce sound but not properly,” she explained. “I didn’t have any vocal endurance or strength.”

In May, vocal specialist Dr. Jennifer Anderson in Toronto discovered a scar on one of Johnson’s vocal cords. In June, Johnson went in for surgery to remove and loosen some of the scar tissue on the injured vocal cord. Johnson said since the surgery she has noticed some of the trouble spots were helped.

On her most recent trip to Toronto, the doctor was checking to see how the scar was moving.
Even with the vocal rehabilitation and the successful surgery, Johnson said her voice will never be the way it was.

“I’m getting to know (my voice) again. It’s like we’re dating; my voice is different. I’m finding out what it can and can’t do,” Johnson said.

During her hiatus, Johnson has continued to work as a substitute teacher, though that posed challenges as well. She used a small microphone with tiny speakers to amplify her voice when teaching so as not to strain her vocal cords. Johnson has also been testing out her voice singing at saint benedict’s table where she attends church.

Jamie Howison has known Johnson for over 15 years and said her intense but playful personality comes out through her music.  

“She once described her Happiness record as being ‘smart-pop,’ and when you think about it that is a pretty accurate label. Lots of fun on that record, but seldom without depth,” Howison said.

Howison is looking forward to hearing Johnson perform in a live setting again especially with the support of a violinist and guitarist.

“I also really like the dynamic created when she plays with Mike Penner and Davis Plett, so it will be great to hear them as a trio,” Howison said.

“And you know, because the last 18 months have come with so much worry over whether or not her voice would come back to full strength, I’d really like to think that we’ll be hearing a Jaylene whose world has again been knocked over… and who has again found the courage to do music.”

Tickets for Johnson’s show are $15 and are going quickly. They are available at Into the Music (245 McDermot Ave.) or online at jaylenejohnsonlive.eventbrite.ca

If you miss Johnson this time around she’ll be performing again Feb. 27, 2015 at The Purple Room.

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