I was recently interviewed about singers’ health and one of the topics that came up for discussion was why did some of the great singers of history like Enrico Caruso lead less than healthy lifestyles – the so called “good life” of rich foods, smoking and alcohol – yet they had these amazing voices?
The truth is a healthy lifestyle will not make you have a great voice. This comes from genetics, dedication to honing an impeccable technique, and the ability to communicate to and touch an audience.
What a healthy lifestyle will give you is the optimization of your instrument, your body, to be able to have the energy, stamina and health to deal with the demands of a singer’s life. It will give you the ability to ward off illness so that you will not miss a gig. It will get you through hours of rehearsals in the evening after being at your 9 to 5 job. It will give you the endurance to be weeks on the road performing. It will let you sing well into your twilight years.
And here’s the thing, many of the GREAT singers did not make it to their twilight years. They died young.
We understand now how lifestyle choices affect our longevity. Heart disease is the number one killer in the world and mostly preventable by lifestyle changes (1). Cancer is not far off and it’s estimated that only 5 - 10% of cases are genetic, the rest are brought on by lifestyle and environmental factors (2).
Aside from Enrico Caruso, whose death at 48 years of age is mostly attributed to his smoking, drinking and poor eating habits, there are many other great singers of the 20th century who died of heart disease or cancer. Sadly most of them died while still in the prime of their careers. Though it is impossible to conclusively say whether their deaths can be attributed to lifestyle without knowing more of their personal lives and health habits, given the above statistics it is quite possible that these deaths could have been prevented through lifestyle changes.
Of course this is not limited to classical singers. Many contemporary artists have suffered early deaths due to lifestyle as well.
One demographic that seems to have a very high proportion of young deaths is hip hop and rap artists. Some dying of heart disease in their 20s (3)!
This is largely due to the unhealthy relationship that they develop at a young age growing up in food deserts (impoverished areas where there is limited access to affordable and nutritious food especially fruits and vegetables). This was highlighted in the film Think Rich – Health is the New Wealth. It is heartening to see that many of these artist are now leading the charge to bring awareness around to the benefits of a healthy, holistic lifestyle.
So what can you do to improve your longevity so you can have a long life of singing? Here are my top 5 tips:
If you are interested in how you can improve your health and voice, including boosting your immunity, relieving seasonal allergies, boosting energy and controlling acid reflux, to name just a few, then join the FREE Vibrant Body Vibrant Voice online community.
You are a singer. You have a passion to share your gift. You have choices to make. May they allow you to sing for many, many more years to come.
Disclaimer: The Fit Singer does not give medical advice nor claim to cure any medical conditions. If you do have a medical condition, any dietary, exercise or other lifestyle changes should be made under the supervision of your family doctor.