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It Ain't Over Til The Skinny Lady Sings?

Updated: May 19, 2020

As I’m sure you are well aware, a picture of Adele has been going viral recently and it shows Adele’s dramatic slimmed down physique. It has been rumored that the Grammy Award winning singer has lost anywhere from 40 to 100 pounds! Kudos to her, we all love to see that someone is getting on the health kick especially in the “Corona Era”, and since being overweight hasn’t been deemed cool since the Renaissance. Adele looks like she is ready for her comeback for the ages with her god given heavenly voice coupled with her new trimmed up physique. Or is she?

A question arose to me when thinking about this. Will Adele sound the same now that she has lost all that weight? Silly question you might be thinking, but not so fast. Consider the facts; a majority of Opera singers are on the “broader side” and I bet you can think of a few famously powerful singers off the top of your head that fall into this category as well. Aretha Franklin, Kelly Clarkson, Luciano Pavarotti and Barry White to name a few. All have supremely powerful voice and it make

There are a few theories that support this hypothesis. In an article posted on The Register entitled “Why Are Opera Singers Fat?”[1] Dr. Stephen Juan goes into scientific detail as to why this may be the case. In the first paragraph of the article Dr. Stephen Juan claims that “a large amount of fatty tissue surrounding the voice box (larynx) increases its resonance capability and thus produces a more pleasing sound. The amount of this fatty tissue varies from singer to singer. It is almost impossible to have a great deal of fatty tissue around the voice box without carrying a great deal of fatty tissue elsewhere on the body.” Adele is known for having a supremely resonating voice so maybe this is indeed a cause concern.

Dr. Juan also states that “opera singers need a far more powerful diaphragm than normal to be able to project their voice above the sound of a large orchestra in a large opera house. A large chest cavity and good control of the lungs will provide a suitable mass to help drive the diaphragm to some extent. A large body mass and a large body frame to support it help even more, so there is a huge advantage in being huge.” This is not looking good for Adele fans. But how much of an effect does being large really have on a voice?

In an article written by Julia Franz[2], she explicitly states that “When you hear a recording of Whitney Houston belting out a classic like “I Will Always Love You,” it’s impossible to miss her raw talent and refined vocal skill. What’s amazing is that anatomically speaking, there’s no difference between Whitney Houston’s vocal system and yours.” It is true that we can all have the same physical attributes as incredibly talented singers. In fact, there is no inherent physical difference from person to person in regards to our vocal attributes. So what separates us from the crème de la crème of singers?

Well it turns out that your vocal chords are simply just muscles. Just like any other muscle, the only way to make them stronger is to work them out. Franz goes on to state that “ just like other parts of the human body, our vocal system works best when we’re young. Steven Zeitels says this is because the tissues lose their elasticity.” So in a sense that means that if you really want to work those vocal chords to hit those Steven Tyler high notes, better do it while you’re young because just like everything it only gets harder the older you are.

I think it’s safe to say that the new slimmed down Adele is going to sound different. The question is to what degree? Will it be noticeably different? Probably not and I think that we can all agree that when it comes to health, you can never put a price tag on it. If you truly love Adele, then you shouldn’t care that her voice isn’t going to “resonate” as well as it did before. Instead be happy that she was able to change her life for the better and prolong her life so she can make some more of that amazingly beautiful music she was put on this Earth to do.

(Juan, 2006) (Franz, 2016)

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