Adele: “Smoking isn’t destroying my voice “

by Jenny Novac on October 11, 2011

Earlier this summer, 23 year-old golden voiced sensation Adele was forced to cancel her entire North American tour, reportedly due to a throat illness or some sort — a lingering case of laryngitis according to her handlers.

Adele Smoking

Adele holding a burning cigarette

Then this week she canceled some of her UK concert dates due to a “severe chest infection, in addition to also having to pull out of an awards show appearance due to illness. These sort of things are not atypical, mind you — people get sick — and performers like Adele who rely so heavily on the unfiltered power of their voices are most susceptible to having the slightest illness wreak havoc on their schedules. But there appears to be a pattern developing that has at least one Adele fan concerned that she’s destroying her instrument by chain-smoking and drinking heavily.

In a post to her Tumblr yesterday, whip-smart and button-cute ESPN the Magazine baseball writer Molly Knight — who describes herself as a “webmistress” who’s spent hours watching live performances by Adele on YouTube — expressed concern that the young phenom is setting fire to her considerable talents each time she lights up.

Everyone raved about her VMA performance but these celebrities probably don’t spend hours watching her live performances on YouTube like a certain webmistress who needs to get a life (ahem). I was really worried she was going to get panned because it sounded like she was sick and holding on for dear life to get through the last 30 seconds of the song, but then everyone on Twitter went bonkers for her and I remembered that Adele at 60% is better than 100% of everyone else at that show and in life in general.

It could have been an off-night, but earlier this summer she was forced to cancel her US tour due to laryngitis. She smokes like a chimney (even at the VMAs,) even though she admits it makes her voice sound like sh*t. And then there was this little revelation that her well-documented anxiety causes her to throw up a lot.

Adele is easily my favorite artist of the last five years, maybe longer. I do not want her to destroy her voice. I hope I am overreacting, as usual.

To Knight’s credit, I follow her on Twitter and do recall her being the only person I noticed who felt that Adele’s VMA performance was a little off — everyone else was, as she noted, going nuts over it. Knight also dug up an audience cam still from the VMAs showing Adele chugging on a cigarette before she took the stage at the VMAs.

I know quite a few people whose voices are their meal-ticket and I can assure you that most, if not all, of them would not be caught dead smoking a cigarette just before they were about to perform. Hell, I have a friend who’s starred in a number of Broadway shows who sometimes won’t even speak to other humans if her voice feels weak on days she’s supposed to perform. It’s called being a professional.

Meanwhile Adele — to her credit or her detriment, depending on your point of view I suppose — doesn’t seem to care all that much, telling the press in the past that she enjoys smoking tobacco product and drinking too much to quit, even if her instrument is sacrificed in the process.

It’s not the 23-year-old’s first bout with laryngitis, or inflammation of the vocal chords. She recently told British Glamour that she had the problem once before, about a week before her latest album came out. The episode frightened her, she confessed, and she decided to try to live a healthier lifestyle, quitting smoking, drinking, caffeine, and citrus foods. But she soon found the new regimen “boring” and quit. “It was f**king grim… When my album went to number one here [in Britain] and in America, I just sat in my room and watched TV because I couldn’t go out and talk to anyone.” Adele admitted that her voice sounded noticeably better when she was not smoking, but went on to say, “I’d rather my voice be a bit s**t so I can have a f**king laugh.”

Adele also told Q Magazine that she wouldn’t be doing any big music festivals this summer despite some lucrative offers, partly because she is prone to anxiety attacks in front of large crowds, but also because she’d rather be sitting in London’s Brockwell Park with her friends drinking (hard) cider. She went on to say that she doesn’t have any interest in exercising, either. “I don’t want to go down the f**king gym. I want to go to the pub with my mates. I can’t be bothered. It’s not even lazy, it’s just other things thrill me in life.”

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