Recently, I became somewhat concerned as my formerly flawlessly articulate three-year-old daughter began to stammer whenever she tried to talk. It was a very sudden onset that is still occurring, and I wondered if this was the first sign of a serious problem that she would have to work to overcome. Off to the Internet I went.
Stuttering generally manifests as repetition of sounds when trying to form words. My daughter saying "d-d-d-daddy" for example, or pauses in speech where no words can be formed. No one really knows what the cause is. Everything from genetics to an anxiety disorder has been hypothesized, and even though speech therapies can be quite helpful there is no absolute cure. Over 3 million Americans alone suffer from the condition.
In 1998, domestic and international organizations dedicating to raising awareness for stuttering by founding International Stuttering Awareness Day. Every October 22, people from across the world are encouraged to learn more about stuttering, and their website has been very helpful and calming to this concerned father.
Also calming was a list I came across of famous rock stars who suffered from stuttering but still went on to illustrious careers. This week we dedicated a playlist to them.
5. Noel Gallagher: The Oasis guitarist and man behind many of the band's best songs, visiting Bayou Music Center November 9 with his new band High Flying Birds (and Snow Patrol), has stammered since a young age. He and his brother Paul were often beaten by their alcoholic father for stammering... in addition to many other reasons. It took four years of speech therapy for Gallagher to overcome the condition.
4. Elvis Presley: Without his stammer, we might never have had the King of Rock and Roll at all. When Presley was five-years-old his mother took him to a local singing competition on the recommendations of a doctor. Singing is a common trick used by stutterers because it uses voluntary diaphragm usage instead of involuntary diaphragm usage like speech. Presley would continue to stutter through high school, but more importantly became one of the most famous singers of all time.
3. Carly Simon: Simon may be one of the most important songwriters in the last 50 years, and she can't read anything aloud to this day without stammering. She has referred to her childhood self as a "stuttering wreck" who developed a near-legendary case of stage fright that has followed her throughout her career because of the condition. Like Presley, she found singing to be a good way to work through it.
2. Kylie Minogue: Always use a Nick Cave song if you can, that's my motto. Minogue reportedly stutters, but has become not only one of the world's best-known singers and pop stars, but a famous actress as well.
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SHOW ME HOW
1. Peter Murphy: When I was preparing to interview Murphy last year, a Houston friend of his named Lonnie Locascio helped me prepare for talking to an undisputed goth legend. Locascio warned me that Murphy had a slight stutter that he's suffered from all his life. Of all the entries on this list I find Murphy the most comforting.
For some reason my daughter is in love with the vampiric icon, and should she not grow out of her recent condition as so many assure me she will, I will be able to point to one of the men she most admires and hold him up as an example that being a stutterer doesn't mean you are in any way limited.