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IME singer Byrne ill
The Friday Rant
IME singer Byrne ill
By Matt Pearson
After a string of cancelled shows, the voice of I Mother Earth's lead singer, Brian Byrne, may be in some serious trouble.
According to Mark McLellan, manager of the University Students' Council production and programming department, the band's management group called him early last week to cancel their show at The Wave, scheduled for Sept. 23 as a part of Homecoming weekend festivities.
"All they told me was that he had some kind of throat infection," McClellan said.
Although I Mother Earth will likely be invited to play at The Wave at a later date, McClellan said he could not speculate as to when that will be.
"They're going to be off the road for at least the duration of the month, but we're pretty booked for October so it may not be until November that we re-book them," he said.
Samantha Johnson, director of media and artist realtions for I Mother Earth's record label, Universal Music, confirmed Byrne has been diagnosed with hemorrhaged vocal chords. "The band is very sorry they have had to cancel shows, but Brian's health is more important," Johnson said. "They are not going to be re-scheduling any shows until their new album is released in 2001," she said of the band's official hiatus.
Byrne's hemorrhaged vocal chords are being taken very seriously by the band's label and band members themselves, Johnson explained. Still, she said she could not comment on the origins of Byrne's condition. "I don't know when the problem started and I couldn't comment as to whether it is the result of an accident," she said.
Johnson said a total of four I Mother Earth shows have been cancelled as a result of Byrne's health problem, including the two at Western and two at Lee's Palace in Toronto. She added Byrne's ailment is a common occurrence for lead singers. "It's a pitfall of the profession," Johnson said.
Philip Doyle, a professor of Communication Disorders at the school of communication science and disorders at Western's Elborne College, described hemorrhaged vocal chords as a vascular disturbance in the throat. "It changes the ability of that vocal chord to vibrate in a normal way for speaking or singing purposes," he said.
Symptoms of the illness range from hoarseness in the voice, to a total loss of voice and pitch range, he added. Surgery is a possibility, but Doyle said many singers view surgery as a last resort.
"Hemorrhages need to be resolved on their own. Even the best surgery is going to change a singer's voice in some way. There's always going to be some slight scarring," he said, adding the size of the vocal region in question equates to the size of a dime.
Johnson said she remains optimistic that Byrne will be back on his feet after a significant break from performing. She also confirmed that Byrne is not planning to undergo surgery at this time.
"Brian is under the care of a notable expert in the field of throat ailments. [I Mother Earth] is totally confident that everything will be back to normal after Brian takes the time he needs to heal completely," she said.