Flash Mob breaks out in song for World Voice Day

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | April 20, 2015

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Janet Christenbury
404-727-8599
jmchris@emory.edu

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Above: Becki Hine, who was diagnosed with a voice condition called spasmodic dysphonia, directs the Song of Atlanta Show Chorus during a "flash mob" at Emory University Hospital Midtown. The performance was held on April 16 in recognition of World Voice Day.

Below: Becki Hine (front row, kneeling) and the Song of Atlanta Show Chorus are all smiles after the performance. They are joined by Michael Johns, III, MD (front row, white coat), director of the Emory Voice Center, and Edie Hapner, PhD (back row, white coat), director of Speech Language Pathology at the Emory Voice Center.

An award-winning Atlanta chorus broke out in song during a "flash mob" at Emory University Hospital Midtown -- in recognition of World Voice Day. April 16 was World Voice Day, a day to encourage men and women, young and old, to assess their vocal health and take action to improve or maintain good voice habits.
 
A group of 20 singers with the Song of Atlanta Show Chorus harmonized three songs during the surprise performance in the hospital's atrium, while passersby stopped and watched.
 
No one is more appreciative of her voice than Becki Hine, the director of the all women's a cappella group. In 2012, Hine was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological voice disorder that involves "spasms" of the vocal cords, which cause interruptions of speech and affects the voice quality. The condition can cause the voice to break up or to have a tight, strained or strangled quality.
 
"The diagnosis was devastating to me because I thought this could end my singing career," says Hine. "I knew I couldn't go on without specialized treatment and help."
 
Hine began receiving Botox injections for spasmodic dysphonia from Michael Johns, III, MD, director of the Emory Voice Center, and Edie Hapner, PhD, director of Speech Language Pathology at the Emory Voice Center. Botox weakens muscles by blocking the nerve impulse to the muscle, which allows Hine to do what she loves best --- sing.
 
"Because there is no cure for spasmodic dysphonia, Botox injections given directly into the muscles of the larynx are our best option for treatment," says Michael Johns, III, MD, director of the Emory Voice Center, located at Emory University Hospital Midtown. "These treatments usually last three to four months, then the symptoms gradually return."
 
Initial side effects of Botox injections can include a weak and breathy voice and occasional swallowing difficulties, but they usually subside in a few days to a few weeks.
 
Hine receives her injections once a quarter and is grateful she can continue to perform with her barbershop style singing group. The group is a local chapter of Sweet Adelines International, one of the world's largest singing organizations for women.
 
"Becki's ability to sing and perform is what World Voice Day is all about," says Hapner. "She has regained the use of her voice through treatment and training. We applaud her for her willingness to share her story, in hopes that others will seek treatment and relief from this devastating disease."
 
Hine's a cappella group has received multiple awards in local, regional and national competitions.