“I say HA!” – How Brittany Kwasnik defied a doctor’s prognosis to find her voice.

Brittany Kwasnik

by Brittany Kwasnik

So recently, I had the amazing experience of launching my new album The Covers & The Sheets. I remember the warm June evening (or as i like to refer to it, a Diana Ross hair day). People were arriving at the venue, grabbing seats and drinks, while I, backstage, tapped my feet and went over my setlist to keep calm. I could see the flicker of candles that were scattered around the edges of the room. I was floating between nerves and excitement. Could this all be real? Could the room full of people be here for me? I closed my eyes, took a moment to collect my thoughts and realized that I shouldn’t even be here.

You see, one morning when I was nine, I woke up having trouble to breathe. Every time I took in air, I would squeak like one of those really annoying dog toys. Scared, and very confused, my mom rushed me to the emergency. You know, there are some moments when being mysterious is a good thing; but not so much at the doctor’s office. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, and when, after a couple hours I didn’t collapse, they shrugged their shoulders and sent me home.  Well, the squeaking kept happening and as school playgrounds would have it, it was not long before I earned the nickname “Mickey Mouse”.

So eventually, after deciding to look down my throat with a teeny camera, the doc did figure out what was going on. To his surprise, my vocal cords were working backwards –  I didn’t even know that was possible! Basically, instead of my vocal cords opening when I inhaled, they would closed. The doctor said that with therapy, I could get the squeaking under control – thanks doc – but with every diagnosis, comes bad news. And for me, it meant that I would never be able to sing. My heart sank.

Zoom forward four years, and I’m strumming around on the guitar my parents got for me; I had decided to teach myself how to play as a way to express myself musically, using a different kind of cord—guitar chords. Secretly, when I was home alone, I began to sing and write songs, even though I wasn’t supposed to. Then, one summer, my mom caught me! I don’t know which of us was more surprised. Soon after, I decided to find a way to record one of my first original songs called “Breathe”. After a six hour recording session at a studio that I found on Craigslist, all of my friends begged for a copy. I found e-mailing an mp3 file to each person extremely tedious, I probably have mild A.D.D, so I decided to just post it on YouTube instead. That my friends, was the best decision I’ve ever made.

“Breathe” rallied in over 40,000 views in the first few weeks, and soon hit 100,000. I couldn’t believe it! When CBC National News and Canada AM took notice, I was honored. So, I continued to write and record songs. At sixteen, I completed my first album, I Don’t Know Me. Then, I signed a contract with Montreal’s Justin Time Records. The label helped distribute the album and I began performing for audiences in places I had only heard about in vague mystical reference. France, California, and cities all across Canada. It all happened so fast.

Now, at nineteen, I have launched my second album, The Covers & The Sheets, as an independent release.  You know, looking at where I am at today, I can’t help but smile when I think to those years of therapy and squeaking, and to the doctor who was certain that something like this could never happen.

But truly, I’m very grateful for learning this lesson early on. Never, ever give up on your dream. Now, I only want to spread that message and hope to inspire others, too, through my music.

Oh and to that doctor, I say HA.

Click Here to visit Brittany Kwasnik’s Songwriter Profile.

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