Alecia Aichelle’s soon-to-be-released debut country album is very appropriately called Golden.
However successful it turns out to be, the Red Deer-area country singer already considers it miraculous.
A dozen years ago, Aichelle defied medical odds after undergoing surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor that had wrapped around her thyroid gland. She was then an 18-year-old student enrolled in Red Deer College’s music program as a voice major.
Aichelle had been singing her whole life. But the only voice she had left after the operation was a “Mickey Mouse whisper.”
By lowering a camera down her throat, a doctor determined her recurrent laryngeal nerve had been sliced right through. “That’s what makes your vocal chord work,” recalled Aichelle (pronounced I-kel, like ‘Michael’).
“The doctor told me, ‘When a nerve is severed, it’s done … You’ll probably never talk again, and you will never sing again.’”
Aichelle was devastated — and angry at God at first. “I thought, why would he give me this passion and gift only to take it away?”
But she soon found strength in her Christian faith. She decided, “I’m going to be healed and maybe all this will become part of my story.”
Although the Kelowna, B.C.-native had to switch to piano to complete her first year of RDC, she was determined to sing again. She credits prayers, as well as her “perseverance, trust and patience,” with helping her slowly regain her vocal range by her second year at RDC.
There’s no medical rationale for the full recovery, said Aichelle. “My doctor said, “You’re talking!” He was totally blown away.”
Aichelle made a home in Central Alberta after graduating from RDC. She spent the last decade or so co-writing music in Nashville, performing at local clubs and seniors homes, and at charitable fundraisers.
In 2013 she put out a five-song, self-titled digital EP that contained the song Beautiful for You. Its lyrics hint at her time of despair. “It’s about being broken down in pieces and about asking God to put me back together as something beautiful for him.”
Aichelle’s including this song on her new Nashville-produced album, Golden, which will be released in the spring.
The first single from the album is a love song called Without June. It was recorded in Red Deer at Heath West’s Melodious Designs Studio and was released to country radio stations, including Red Deer’s KG Country.
Aichelle’s excited that her single was put to a public vote by an Ottawa country station. And Without June — which refers to a love as enduring as Johnny Cash’s for June Carter Cash — received more listener support than another original country tune from an Eastern Canadian artist. It will, therefore, advance to the second round of the contest.
Another thrill was recently performing the single, as well as several other songs, at the famed Bluebird Cafe in Nashville.
Those attending the Feb. 7 Bridal Gala at the Westerner in Red Deer can hear her sing Without June at the 11:30 and 2:30 p.m. shows.
Other fans can stay tuned for a yet-to-be-announced CD release party, which will be planned for a Red Deer venue after Aichelle’s album is out in March or April.