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Vocal chords damaged in childhood give husky-voiced singer hit potential

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 08, 2014

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A singer whose parents were told a killer bug would leave her severely brain damaged is aiming to top the pop charts – after the illness left her with a distinctive husky voice.

Elles Bailey, 25, contracted two types of pneumonia during an epidemic in 1991 leaving her fighting for her life when she was just three years old. She miraculously pulled through but the tubes which were put down her throat to help her breathe damaged her vocal chords leaving her with a distinctive gravelly voice.

But her unusual tone has helped pull in the fans and the blues-princess has gone on to support the Sugababes and Scouting For Girls, and is recording songs with Michael Jackson's musical team.

Elles said: "Before I was ill I had a relatively normal voice – as much as a three-year-old has a normal voice.

"There was a big epidemic of pneumonia going around and there were two strains and I contracted both. I was fine, then very ill, very, very quickly. To keep me alive I had to be intubated for 17 days.

"When I came off the treatment the doctors said I was completely brain damaged, that I'd never achieve anything. It was a really bad prognosis and I'd have hated to be my parents back them."

Elles – who had to relearn to walk after the traumatic illness – added: "Actually I was completely fine but when I started to get better and started to talk again, my parents realised that it wasn't the voice I had before – it was much more husky.

"My dad took me to see a voice expert and they said if I ever decided to take up singing I'd be really good at the blues. I do think of it as a blessing."

Elles, from South Gloucestershire, started singing in school plays aged five, blagging parts usually given to older people because of her mature voice.

She began writing her own songs aged 14, recorded a demo four years later, and has toured with The Sugababes, The Twang and Scouting For Girls. She also runs her own recording studio.

She is touring the UK this year – but has to be careful not to overwork her unusual voice. "I have to really take care of my voice which means no alcohol and drinking a lot of water," she said.

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