KT Tunstall
KT Tunstall scraps tour dates over hearing problems

KT Tunstall has put her touring plans on hold after developing hearing issues in her right ear.

The star previously lost all hearing in her left ear during a tour in 2018, and says she is worried her right side could go the same way.

As a result, she is postponing her headline tour, and cancelling support shows with 80s pop band Hall & Oates.

Tunstall said the decision had been “extremely difficult” but she had to “put my hearing health first”.

She added: “It could be the difference between being able to be a musician or not”.

The Scottish singer, whose hits include Suddenly I See and Black Horse & The Cherry Tree, has previously said her hearing loss was triggered by years of exposure to loud music, without adequate ear protection.

“I’d never been particularly careful about my hearing over the years, especially as a clubber through my 20s and cranking the volume up on bad monitors at my early gigs,” she said earlier this year.

About 10 years ago, she developed high-frequency hearing loss in her left ear, accompanied by tinnitus – a permanent, inescapable ringing or howling sound.

Then, during a series of concerts in 2018, she suffered sudden sensory hearing loss, causing total deafness in her left ear.

“The kicker is, I still have the tinnitus, even in a deaf ear,” she said. “I’ve adapted really well and can still perform and record, but if I could do it all again, I would definitely make sure I was going for regular hearing checks from a young age.”

The singer-songwriter has recently developed tinnitus in her right ear, prompting fears over her remaining hearing.

Writing to fans, she insisted she would not stop playing live, but would develop a touring schedule that ensures she has ample rest between shows, to put less pressure on her hearing.

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“My thoughts on touring so intensively and consecutively have made me question whether my remaining hearing will be able to handle it, and as a result I have decided that the only healthy way forward for me as a ‘live’ musician is to completely avoid lengthy back-to-back touring which causes inevitable exhaustion and stress.

“To move forward safely in my career, I must ensure that my touring schedule leaves adequate rest between smaller batches of shows.”

She thanks fans for their support, adding: “I promise I will see you soon – in rude (and rocking) health”.

Hearing loss has been an issue for musicians for decades, with artists including Neil Young, Sting, Chris Martin, Will.i.am, Plan B and Mick Fleetwood all suffering from tinnitus and related conditions.

“Every other musician I know has some form of problem with their hearing,” Garbage singer Shirley Manson told Rolling Stone in 2005. “All the guys in my band have weird schisms that come from being around really loud music.”

While daily exposure to loud, amplified music can trigger the problem, it can also affect casual music fans, with overuse of headphone and earbuds a particular problem.

According to the World Health Organisation, 50% of teenagers and young adults in middle- and high-income countries are regularly exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of personal audio devices.

They advise using noise-cancelling headphones, setting volume limits on phones and audio devices, and wearing ear protection at gigs and nightclubs.


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