Hats off to Sam Fender for speaking openly about the need for the music industry to protect the well-being of artists. He’s by no means the only singer struggling with fame and a heavy workload.
After a whirlwind 18 months in which he shot to prominence and won a Brit Award, Newcastle singer songwriter Sam Fender has admitted it’s tough dealing with life at the sharp end of the music industry.
Fender has never shied away from articulating his vulnerabilities; in the past he’s written about male suicide and admitted struggling with “toxic masculine stereotypes”.
But his latest revelations will strike a particular chord with singers. Speaking after performing at a festival in Glasgow at the weekend Fender revealed he was dogged by the fear of having to pull out of a gig because his health, or voice, just wasn’t up to it.
He told BBC Radio 1 that he felt under enormous pressure to capitalise on his recent success – hence the heavy schedule. But keeping up with such a full schedule was tough and he was “perpetually terrified” of having to cancel shows.
“The music industry as a whole needs to genuinely make a conscious effort to look after people’s physical and mental health,” he said.
Fender was speaking just a few weeks after he pulled out of several gigs – including Glastonbury – on doctor’s orders.
After taking a short break, he returned to performing but (worryingly) admitted after the Glasgow gig that his voice felt “completely annihilated”. (Sam, this is not a good thing).
Established stars feel the pressure
It’s not just breakthrough acts who struggle with the pressures of fame and expectation.
Earlier this week Ed Sheeran, one of the UK’s richest and most successful musicians, admitted he battled with anxiety every day.
Speaking while promoting his new album No6 Collaborations Project, he said: “I have social anxiety. I don’t like large groups of people, which is ironic given I play shows to thousands of people.”
Meanwhile Jess Glynne is taking a complete break due to vocal problems. In a recent statement she admitted that in the past six months she had performed almost 100 shows and had at times “pushed through” even though her voice felt tired, overstretched and at “breaking point”.
“The thing is I am my voice. If my voice goes, I go,” she said.
For more advice about vocal health CLICK HERE.
If you’re experiencing feelings of distress, anxiety or despair, call the Samaritans Helpline on 116 123.