In an effort to avoid “permanent, irrevocable damage” to her vocals, Allison Russell has called off her performance at this weekend’s Water Is Life Festival in Duluth, Minnesota, on doctor’s orders.
The Americana singer-songwriter, who released the solo album Outside Child last year and a re-imagining of the Our Native Daughters song “You’re Not Alone” with Brandi Carlile in August, was scheduled to appear at the music festival on Sunday (Sept. 4), sharing the lineup with acts including Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls.
“I am beyond devastated and sorry to tell you that I won’t be able to play my set at the @waterislifefestival in Duluth today,” Russell wrote on Instagram Sunday afternoon. “I have been struggling vocally on and off since March. At the urgent request of @brandicarlile’s (and many other brilliant singers) vocal coach extraordinaire @robertraab (who has generously been helping all of us on the road with Queen Brandi) I finally went to a specialist here in LA. I was scared to go because I felt that something was badly wrong and I was fearful of hearing it confirmed.”
“I have been put on vocal rest and rehabilitation by my new otolaryngologist, @drshawnnasseri,” she said. “Apparently I suffered a vocal hemorrhage approx 2 weeks ago and have vocal nodes that are inflamed and on the verge of hemorrhaging again.”
“Dr. Nasseri tells me that if I play back to back shows this weekend, I could do permanent, irrevocable damage. He gave me a steroid to get me through my set last night but wants me to be silent other than vocal rehab for the next week,” explained Russell, who was nominated for three Grammy awards at the 2022 ceremony, including best Americana album.
“It has been a particularly stressful, fraught, heartbreaking time in my world and I believe the unrelenting cortisol flood took its toll on my voice and body and spirit,” she added in her update to fans. “Dr. Nasseri told me that I’ve been running a marathon on a broken ankle and if I continue as I am, it will destroy my voice and be the end of my career. The pictures of my suffering damaged vocal cords were deeply upsetting and terrifying. I have a dangerously high threshold for pain, it has been such a constant companion in my life, it feels familiar and normal. I did not realize how badly I was hurting myself.”
“The good news is that with some vocal rest and physio under the guidance of voice whisperer Raab — I should make a full recovery,” said Russell.
The singer apologized to “the festival and everyone who works with me or cares about me” for her absence. “I will get better and do better everyday,” Russell said. “If you see me and I don’t speak, please understand that I’m just following the doctor’s orders! I will have my new trusty dry erase board at my side and write you loving notes until I get the all clear!”
See her full update below and keep up-to-date with her upcoming tour dates here.