I was withering in the heat under a tree on the sidelines, watching my son Peter race around the asphalt in his "Crit 3" bike race. It had to have been 115 on that road track (whew!)
Anyway, I began to think about how important it is for singers to take special care when singing in this heat. Number one is, of course, to be well hydrated.
According to the NYU Voice Center, even on a normal day a physically inactive person "uses about 2 liters of fluid a day just to compensate for production of urine, sweat, and humidification lost in the air you breath, when you talk and when you sing". They go on to say the paranasal sinuses use about a liter a day, and that you make about a liter of saliva a day. Wow. Makes me thirsty just to think about it!
Also, it's not enough just to take a bottle of water with you, especially in this heat. I find it important to drink enough water the day before your gig, sip during performance, and continue drinking after singing. It's amazing how much water evaporated from your vocal cords as breath flows between them during phonation.
Yes, pure water works best, but in extreme heat I find it important to have electrolytes replenished. You can do this with a high quality nutritional supplement or even something as simple and easily found as Gatoraide. You can also dilute water with a small amount of fruit juice. (3 parts water, 1 part juice counts as water, according to nutritionist Liz Flannigan). Take it easy on caffeine and alcohol, because they are dehydrating compounds. It's good to eat raw veggies like celery, which adds minerals and has an alkalizing effect on the body.
I passed out at the mic in a Kansas auditorium one fourth of July with about 5,000 people in attendance. The air condition had gone out and it was hot anyway, but I also had a touch of the stomach flu. I was singing "Until I Met You" and just fell into my band's arms. My bass player had the opportunity to give the one liner he'd always dreamed about: "Is there a doctor in the house?". After a trip to the emergency room to rule out drugs (hehehe, they always think that, don't they?) my husband John (the drummer) was instructed to pour about 4 quarts of Gatoraide down me during the night while the bus drove us to our next gig. I was able to say "On with the show"!
Do you have a story about singing in the heat you could share?
Oh, and by the way... my son won the overall for the weekend bike races!! YEAH!!!