Julie Andrews hopes to sing again _ with help from a new research program
Friday, June 14th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
NEW YORK (AP) _ Wouldn't it be loverly?
Julie Andrews has become an ardent supporter of a pioneering research program on vocal restoration that one day could help her sing again.
``At my age, I'm hoping that there will be some restoration. That actually is a possibility,'' the 66-year-old Andrews said Thursday of her singing voice.
``It certainly gives me great comfort and hope,'' said the star of such Broadway classics as ``My Fair Lady'' and ``Camelot'' as well as the film versions of ``Mary Poppins'' and ``The Sound of Music.''
``But I think there is a much, much greater problem, which is why I find it so exciting, and that is it can do so much good for so many people who have much more serious problems.''
Andrews spoke Thursday at a news conference with a team of five doctors and professors from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Massachusetts General Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who head the collaborative research effort. The project will take into account the latest developments in phonosurgery, voice science, laser technology and tissue engineering.
``The loss of my singing gift was a difficult chapter for me,'' she said. ``I am but a microcosm of millions of others who share the same or similar conditions.''
In 1997, Andrews underwent surgery to remove non-cancerous throat nodules, and the operation left her unable to sing. Claiming she hadn't been warned of the surgery's risks, the performer sued two doctors and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount.
Andrews said she has been seeing Dr. Steven Zeitels, who heads the vocal restoration project, for about four years.
The actress said she passionately believes in the research effort, which has been underway for about a year. The voice is ``something from your soul, from your heart. To be able to help preserve that _ at this particular time with the particular stresses that have happened to me _ is just phenomenal,'' she added.
Zeitels said he was optimistic about helping Andrews' voice, although he didn't elaborate on any possible treatment.
``We know where the problems are, millimeter by millimeter in her vocal folds,'' he said. ``By doing so, we now have some greater sense about restoring the areas of where they are not as pliable.''
The doctor said that singing is dependent on the wiring of the human brain, which tells it, among other things, how to manage air and manage tension. ``I think it's fair to say that Julie is wired very well,'' Zeitels added.