Canadian singer-songwriter Thomas Wade is launching his book Singing in my Sleep on Saturday, October 26, 2019 at the public library in Burford, Ontario. The book chronicles his journey overcoming oromandibular dystonia which robbed him of his voice in 2001.
Brian Thompson / The Expositor
Thomas Wade grew up in a musical family in Burford.
He was four when he learned to play guitar, first stepped on stage at age six and began writing songs by the time he was seven.
He dreamed of being a star — and dedication took him there.
By the late 1990s, Thomas Wade and Wayward had a string of hit singles, earned seven Canadian Country Music Awards, and was nominated three times for a Juno.
“We had some good years,” Wade, 58, reflects. “We were busy, on the road touring constantly.”
But, in 2001, Wade lost control of his vocal chords, which ended his music career. Over the next couple of years, he began to have difficulty with certain vowels. By 2005, he could barely speak.
He says he sounded as if he suffered a stroke.
The following year, doctors diagnosed the condition as oromandibular dystonia, a neurological disorder that causes involuntary, forceful contractions of the area around the mouth. Dystonia can impair speech, swallowing or chewing, and can make it difficult to open and close the mouth.
Little was known about dystonia at the time. Wade says he considered learning sign language to communicate.
“You open your mouth and everything you’ve built is gone.”
Wade says he began journaling daily in the early 1990s and found that writing got him through dystonia.
“It was my way to remind myself of who I was,” he shares. “Because, when I spoke, I didn’t sound the way people would normally interpret as intelligent. It was my way of seeing myself in real time, saying something worth hearing.”
He attempted hypnosis but that was only a temporary fix, giving Wade a clue toward a path of healing.
While reading and researching brain science in 2009, Wade learned about neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to adapt and create new pathways, or re-wire itself, based on circumstances.
Regaining his voice in 2011, Wade began writing a book chronicling his journey.
“I thought if I ever got my voice back, I’d run for the nearest studio and never talk about dystonia again.”
He spent five years crafting the book, Singing in my Sleep, which he is careful to point out isn’t a guide to get through dystonia.
“I can’t say I know the cure but I can say I know how to move toward wellness,” says Wade, describing his book as a revelation of the relationship between thoughts and feelings. The book contains simple concepts on how you can change your mind.
Wade says that, that even though he could speak and sing again, he “felt like crap.” He recognized that physical feeling stemmed from a poor mental diet, in his case due to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“You are what you think, and your body is listening. So, be careful what you’re telling your body.”
During the five years it took to pen the book, Wade made a couple of trips to Nashville to write songs with his friend, Tim Taylor. In 2017, he released Blue Country Soul, his first album in 16 years.
“I made this record to exist as a musician again,” he says. “The next phase is to write music that pertains to my message.”
Wade also gets the message out now as a motivational speaker and at a book launches.
He will be at the Burford Public Library on Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. to answer questions and talk about ways to rewire your brain.
The singer-songwriter has an Instagram page – @thethomaswade – where he posts quotes from the book and his ideas of positivity.
“If I can help a person feel even 20 per cent better, that’s an amazing thing to offer,” Wade says. “I learned what I learned so I could order a cup of coffee, and sing Happy Birthday to my kid.”
Wade’s music and information about his book can be found at www.thomaswade.com.