I can only imagine what it must be like to have to remain silent for weeks at a time. I’m sure my husband would love that though. Unfortunately, that’s just what the doctors order for singers and sometimes even radio personalities to do to save their voices. Remember last year when Keith Urban had to remain silent for months. We’re so glad he did, because following his procedure he’s back and sounds great.
Most recently we we learned of Keifer Thompson of Thompson Square’s vocal problems, but it turns out he was having problems for almost a year before he finally had to seek help and start canceling shows so his voice could heal. Shawna says he started having problems when they first started recording their It Just Feels Good album. “I was having a lot of hoarseness issues and like this Springsteen/Tom Waits thing going on and I couldn’t quite kick it,” explains Keifer. “And there were things like my falsetto was starting to be affected and it hurt. And I started going out and the adrenaline got me through. I mean I could be dying backstage and I go out and there’s 15,000 people out there and I’d pound through it. And every night I’d pound through it and I’d be a little less effective. And it got to the point where at the end it was just like somebody was stabbing me in the throat. and I just couldn’t go on. And that’s when I finally said ‘something’s wrong.’ Guys don’t like to go to the hospital or admit that. At that point I was just like we’ve got to at least see what we’re dealing with.”
Once he went to the doctor he found out he had a really bad hemorrhage in his throat and that he’d developed polyps. They thought they were going to have to do surgery to correct the problem, but thanks to him going on complete vocal rest for two weeks he says, “It’s completely healed and resolved and the polyp is about 70% down so they don’t want to do surgery now.” Keifer says his voice feels better than ever and he’s actually a better singer now because he’s learned how to sing soulfully and with power but without screaming. “It’s just how I’ve always done it. I’ve never had any formal training or anything like that, so I’ve just kind of done it on what my heart felt like and it wasn’t always right apparently. And after doing it for so many years and so many hours and songs it just catches up with you.”
One thing Keifer is grateful for through this whole ordeal is the support he got from fellow artists who have been in his shoes. He says Keith Urban, Gary Allan and Larry Gatlin were just some of the people who offered him advice. “[They] helped me through it and talked me off a ledge and told me it was okay. And for that I’m very thankful.” He;s also grateful for the love and support from Thompson Square’s fans and band and crew. One of the reasons he waited so long to seek help is because he didn’t want to let anybody down and he especially didn’t want his guys to not be able to work for a few weeks. “You know we’ve got 12 or 13 that we’re feeding their families. So when you’re talking about taking off for three weeks it doesn’t just affect you. It affects a lot of people and that really was one of the hardest things for me to do was to tell them that we’re gonna be off for two weeks cause I know they’re all supportive and they love me, but I’ve been the side guy and had to take time off. It’ll scare the hell out of you. Because they’ve wrapped their whole lives up in Thompson Square and when you take off like that, I lost a lot of sleep over that. It broke my heart to do that.”
Fortunately Keifer is able to speak now, and this afternoon at 2pm he will go back to the doctor to find out if he is cleared to sing. He’ll know after the visit when Thompson Square will be able to re-join Luke Bryan as the middle act on his Dirt Road Diaries Tour, but he says, “I have high hopes. Hopefully when the Luke tour starts back up you’ll see our shining faces back out there.” The Dirt Road Diaries Tour is on a break now, but will resume on July 11th in Birmingham, AL.