As the ‘80s were winding down Cinderella were on a heavy-metal high, having reached the Top 10 with Long Cold Winter, the Philadelphia band’s most successful effort to date. Frontman Tom Keifer had no idea how prophetic the title of the album’s hit power ballad, “Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone),” would become when in 1991 he was diagnosed with paresis of his left vocal cord—in other words, partial paralysis. "It affected my speaking voice slightly, but much more so in the singing ranges,” Keifer soberly recalls. “It just wreaked havoc on that. I couldn’t sing. It was awful."
Undergoing intense vocal therapy to mitigate this incurable neurological affliction, he continued to tour with Cinderella despite (and arguably to spite) the diagnosis and rather daunting odds. "It really does take away your confidence," Keifer explains, "and that’s everything when you perform. Most singers, if their voice cracks once it’s devastating to them. I went for years where I cracked multiple times a night and just had to deal with it."
Throughout the last decade of this ordeal, in particular, Keifer, who lives in Nashville with his wife Savannah Snow and son Jaidan, has been at work on his as-yet-untitled solo debut, which will be released early next year on Merovee Records. "For a while I didn’t know if I’d be able to perform these songs live, to be honest, and I recorded them with a lot of blind faith," says Keifer, underscoring the adversity he’s not only so far defied but still confronts. "I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy but I’m going to be able to do it."
In writing the solo album, did you have to take your vocal condition into account insofar as what you would be capable of singing?
I tried not to. The fourth record for Cinderella, Still Climbin’, that was a hard record to write because I was in the depths of this problem and I didn’t know what was going to come out the other end. So I was writing for a voice that I didn’t even know if I was going to have or what it was going to sound like, but I decided to just write—and the same thing with this solo record.