On Friday, Sarah Ayers will hold a comeback concert at the Jim Thorpe Mauch Chunk Opera house in honor of Ayers' voice returning after a year battle with Hasimoto's disease that threatened to take her singing career away.
Steve Brosky and Jimmy Meyer will co-bill with Ayers.
Last January, Ayers, an accomplished Lehigh Valley singer who has won more than 30 Lehigh Valley music awards, and whose stage is, and has been for years, the Lehigh Valley had to stop singing because of a rare autoimmune disease that interfered with her singing range.
Struggling for months, she tried to keep singing. Finally, it all came to an end.
She said, "I kept cancelling gigs because I was having trouble with my high notes. I didn't know what was going on."
At first, the doctors had little more to say except she should stop singing so "hard." Ayers knew it was more than that because singing "hard," was part of her musical style. Her bluesy interpretation of songs was hard, and intuitively she knew that was not the problem.
Finally, relieved and alarmed, she was diagnosed with Hasimoto's Disease, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid and damages the nerves - and the throat. Defeated by a diagnosis, Ayers was forced into an untimely and unwanted retirement.
Tears form in Ayers' eyes as she remembers having to face not singing anymore.
She recalled, "Here I was, dealing with a huge loss that no one but I understood. I felt like my life was over."
"I had my voice since I was two," Sarah said. She started her career as a trombone player, is a degreed opera singer, and has been singing professionally since 1998.
Struggling with what to do with the rest of her life, she reached back into her past, and tapped into her former skills as a veterinary tech.
She was drawn to a store in Allentown called Bird Mania. She walked in one day and a Macaw named Marvin, simply said, "Hi." "He made me feel joy for the first time in months." Sarah said. She started to spend so much of her time at the store she was offered a job. The next year was filled with caring for, and being entertained by birds.
When she quit, to the owner's dismay, many of the birds now cleared their throat. A mimic they picked up from Ayers who, while recovering cleared her throat often.
However, during the entire time, she never lost her desire to return to singing. And she never lost the support of her friends, especially fellow musicians Steve Brosky and Jimmy Meyer.
All three musicians are lifelong residents of the Lehigh Valley and longtime friends. Brosky and Meyer have been together since 2005 and won a number of Lehigh valley awards, themselves, including best duo for 2010.
"We've opened for great acts such as B.B. King and Leon Russell - and now we're opening for Sarah Ayers on April 15th," Brosky said.
Ayers is planning on doing something she's never done before - for anyone, and that's accompanying herself on the piano. She will open and close the show playing the piano and singing.
Ayers, Brosky, and Meyer will bring the expected to the concert, Meyer's riveting guitar playing, and Brosky's voice and variety. All three will sing together, making this an exceptional event.
"As exciting as comeback is," Ayers said, "it's a bit frightening. A couple of months ago I went out and sang a song at a jam, my voice was coming back. When Steve dropped an idea about doing this concert, I got this excitement that was tempered with terror."
Even though Hasimoto's Disease is something Ayers will have to deal with for her entire life, it won't inhibit her ability to deliver a concert that will awe and inspire upcoming vocalists and impress seasoned musicians, such as Brosky and Meyer.
Tickets are available and can be purchased at the door or on-line at www.mauchchunkoperahouse.com