Crystal Goh may not the only one suffering from a condition that would change her path distinctly, but she was the first one I know with a rare neurological condition called “Spasmodic Dysphonia” to bravely step forward to share her story.

Crystal Goh, singer-songwriter who lost her voice due to a rare neurological disorder.

Crystal Goh, singer-songwriter who lost her voice due to a rare neurological disorder.

When I first heard of her story, I wrote to her sharing with her my own vocal conditions. At age 20+ I was signed as a recording artiste under Ocean Butterflies International. By then, I’d had met music directors from Sony, EMI and Rock Records who were interested parties to sign a record deal with me. Though i was never as ambitious as my peers, I was always grateful that this quiet invisible child that is me finally has a chance to be heard. Then something happened. Like Crystal, my dreams were crushed. I was diagnosed by an ENT Specialist (Chew & Chew Clinic) with bowed cords from birth. And the fancy hippie name was ‘horseshoe defect‘. Unlike other normal cords, mine could never close naturally. There was no cure. Unless I decided to fly to Taiwan for an implant to bridge the gap, I could never sing professionally since it would be risking vocal fatigue constantly. In Crystal’s video, she speaks of how she had the option of botox but decided against it. Similarly, i made a decision against artificial implants. Crystal and my own path differs from this point of realisation that our first innocent dreams had been shattered. Neither of us gave up in what we believe in. How music could bring joy, peace and hope. Despite ourselves. Our stories drew a friendship that is early, quiet but strongly bonded in our brokenness. But today, I would like to share her story, in her own words:


In 2011, singer-songwriter Crystal Goh had her eyes flung open to the necessity of hope. She was building her reputation as a singer-songwriter, but when she woke up one day, her voice was gone.

It was diagnosed as a rare neurological condition called Spasmodic Dysphonia. It has no known cure. Two years went by as Crystal struggled with this disease. Simple tasks like having a conversation with friends, ordering food in a noisy hawker centre, being heard in a work meeting – all became very difficult and embarrassing.

In the midst of her depression, Crystal’s friends still believed in her recovery. She wrote a song to remind herself about the importance of hope. And as she began to share this song with others, her voice miraculously started to return. With this renewed belief, Crystal and her friends decided to reach out to others who needed to hear this message of hope. Diamonds On The Street was born.


Thank you Crystal, as rare as your condition was, you moved on from asking why, to what you could now do. For more than yourself. I’m deeply moved, humbled and encouraged.

Sharing with my husband Crystal’s condition, he recalled a famous Australian rock star, Jenny Morris, who in the 90s mysteriously disappeared. She later revealed that she had the same condition. Today she dedicates her time to charity work with a music therapy organisation Nordoff-Robbins. It’s wonderful seeing how positively she has taken her challenge, and hope her story encourages you too. ‘ “I think having issues with my voice is not a reason to shy away from the world,” she said.

I highly recommend anyone who has any challenge in life, physical (vocal or not), mental or emotional, to watch these videos. They will encourage you.

Our Better World
TedTalk – Crystal Goh

Crystal Goh’s full story here. She is also available for speaking engagements.

Hear Crystal Goh share her story and more at Singapore Writer’s Festival on 11th March 2016:
“Singer-songwriter Crystal Goh and performance poet Marc Nair will talk about Reword, which lends voice to the stories of at-risk youth, and how the spoken-word and music project helps the latter regain their confidence.”

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone