Renee Austin

A real farewell tour

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Sometimes bands have so much talent and sit around doing nothing. They complain about gigs, venues, drama, or just plain life. Often they waste their God given talent, but what if they were silenced and could never express their art again? That is what happened to Renee Austin after she released her second album last summer.

She writes in an open letter, “As some of you know I had to have surgery on September, 13th to remove a lump on my thyroid gland. I feel blessed to be able to tell you that I am doing fine and the lump turned out to be cancer free. I regret to inform you all that as a result of the surgery my left vocal chord has been left paralyzed and is not working. The result of this is I can talk softly but I cannot sing. In the last couple of weeks after lots of medical opinions and various hospital visits my condition has been diagnosed as likely permanent. This means that I probably will never be able to sing again. I am working hard with a speech therapist to see if I can beat the odds and God willing raise my voice in song once again someday. Until that time comes I must say goodbye to you all as a singer and thank you again for all of the love and support you have given me.”

The letter was sent to many parties, and one, Cheryl O'Grady of the Blues Festival Guide had some sincere words of hope. She wrote, “I'm so glad to hear your lump was benign! I'm only able to imagine the devastation of a paralyzed vocal chord to a singer. If it helps I have a friend whose vocal chord was paralyzed after thyroid surgery and she was only able to speak softly for sometime and was told it was permanent. She was in physical therapy and eventually her voiced returned and she was able to regain her strong and deep voice. She is not a singer and unfortunately for her friends her "bark" is back. Ha! I wish you the best and I feel fortunate I was able to hear you sing in person at the W.C. Handy's a few years ago.”

Renee had a Janis Joplin rasp, but a real soul in her singing. Her music can be heard and purchased at . We hope the very best for her and pray that someday she can sing again.