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Singing in My Own Key

Posted by Lynn Bronikowski Oct 27 2017

A year after losing her singing voice to a stroke, Boston singer Valerie Giglio sat on the stage during a music showcase and sang Charlie Chaplin’s Smile.

“That song has so much meaning to me because no matter how bad it gets, you have to keep smiling and push your way through it,” said Giglio. “I felt so happy to be back on stage again. At some point in my recovery, doubts crept in that I’d never be able to sing again or be on stage again.”

Giglio experienced a brain stem stroke in June of 2014 after she turned her head quickly to shut off her alarm clock and tore both vertebral arteries in her neck. Clots formed which went to her brain and caused a stroke.

She was 42 and heading to a bright future as both a successful lawyer and a professional vocalist. She sang for 10 years with the Al Vega Trio, recorded two CDs and had a substantial criminal defense caseload.

“I lost my singing voice in a flash and had to learn to walk again and use my arm again,” said Giglio who did therapy at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston followed my months of outpatient therapy.

“I was able to rebuild my musical career after rehabilitating my voice,” she said. “I just kept plugging away no matter how it sounded.”

She also wrote a book, Singing in My Own Key, which she started writing with one hand while still in the hospital. She ramped up her writing while in rehab and published her book in 2016. Now she’s recorded an audio version of her book.

“It was important to me to record the audio because I want to show people that stroke survivors are normal people like everybody else,” said Giglio. “I wanted to do it just to show people that you can do what you put your mind to. I want people to realize their own potential whatever that might be.”

Next year she’s headed to the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston.

“I’m very excited to get a music education especially from Berklee which is so respected and has such talented instructors,” said Giglio.

She has sung everything from retro pop to jazz but enjoys singing the standards and looks forward to returning to her rock roots.

“I have so many opportunities, not only in music, but also to spread the word about stroke and do things that I never thought would be possible,” she said. “I’ve had a lot wonderful experiences after stroke and want to discover more. Now I’m doing everything because tomorrow is never promised.”

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