Pink Martini's China Forbes: The voice is back
Pink Martini's China Forbes makes a holiday-concert comeback at Seattle's Paramount Theatre after undergoing surgery for vocal problems.
Seattle Times arts writer
Pink Martini with the Seattle Symphony8 p.m. Saturday, Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; $41.25-$121.25 (877-784-4849 or www.STGPresents.org).
It will be a special event when singer China Forbes takes the stage with Pink Martini and the Seattle Symphony at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday.
Forbes, stricken with a voice injury that required surgery, announced in June that she'd be taking a yearlong leave of absence. Her recovery, however, has gone well and she'll be making her first public appearance since her surgery with this holiday concert.
In an email interview earlier this week, Forbes talked about her vocal problems, the concert ("I'm so glad to be back!") and how she spent her downtime.
Q: Will Saturday's concert be a strictly holiday affair?
A: I think we will do all the hits from our holiday album (2010's "Joy to the World") and then of course our usual Pink Martini favorites, plus some surprises.
Q: Not all holiday albums are recorded during the holiday season. When did you make yours? If it was in spring or high summer, how odd does that feel? Did you have to turn down the AC to get in the mood?
A: We recorded it in spring and early summer, and it was definitely a bit strange. But luckily recording studios are often overly air-conditioned and downright freezing so that part was taken care of.
Q: "A Snowglobe Christmas," by you and Pink Martini founder Thomas Lauderdale, is a lovely addition to the Christmas songs repertoire.
A: I am really happy with that song. We had an opportunity to add a new song to the American Christmas songbook and it was easy to be inspired during the blizzard of '08. My house sits high up on a hill with massive fir trees right outside a wall of windows and when it snows it looks too good to be real ... like a giant snow globe.
Q: When did you become aware of your vocal problems?
A: It was a slow progression of singing with colds and getting hoarse and thinking it was just the effects of the cold. But when the hoarseness got severe and never abated, I became concerned. I started losing entire octaves of my voice — the whole upper register was silent. By the time we were performing at a benefit for Japan's tsunami victims last March I could barely make a sound. So I made an appointment the next day and found out I had an acute vocal hemorrhage. I was told to not speak for two weeks until it resolved. It turned out, after I healed, that I had a tiny polyp. Any trauma from singing, speaking or a cold could cause it to bleed, and each bleed could lead to scar tissue. It's amazing how fragile the voice is and how much I didn't know that.
Q: It must have been scary to undergo the surgery.
A: No singer wants to have his or her cords touched by a scalpel. My biggest fear was losing my voice or having scar tissue that would leave me impaired or never being able to sing again. It was when I realized that I would never be able to sing again anyway without worrying about re-bleeding from the polyp that I knew I had no other option but to get rid of it.
Q: How's the recovery coming along?
A: I healed without a blemish — so, incredibly, my voice is better than it has been in years. I notice a buttery ease and no unintended airiness which singing with a polyp was causing. It feels free and unencumbered. Singing is a joy to me in a way it never quite was before. More ease, less tiring.
Q: What did you do while recovering?
A: I spent a ton of time with my son, who is 2 ½. That has been the biggest gift of this whole experience. I missed him so much when he stopped touring with me and started going to a Montessori preschool. It was hard to stay connected when I was coming and going all the time. This is the longest stretch of not traveling I have had in almost 20 years. That has been amazing. He and I are two peas in a pod now.
Q: Will you share vocal duties with anyone at this concert?
A: Ari Shapiro will be there! [Note: The NPR correspondent made a hilarious guest appearance on Pink Martini's "Splendor in the Grass" with "But Now I'm Back," a ditty about a here-again-gone-again cad.] He is dashing and such a sweetheart. Also Ida Rae Cahana, who appeared on our holiday album, will be there to sing the gorgeous "Elohai N'Tzor" with Ari and me. Every time we sing that song on stage I feel like it's the best musical experience I have ever had.
Michael Upchurch: email@example.com
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