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‘Keep going’: R&B icon Tank shares his hearing loss story on Instagram

Tank rapper hearing loss

The five-time Grammy nominated R&B singer Tank hardly needs an introduction. When he announced his hearing loss little over a week ago, fans, friends and fellow musicians responded with generous words of love and encouragement.

The distortion after music

Durrell ‘Tank’ Babbs – known for his hit singles such as ‘When We’ and ‘You Don’t Know’, with nine studio albums to boot and another due for release – recently put up a very poignant, inspiring Instagram post sharing news of “going completely deaf in my right ear and kinda losing sound in the left.”


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tank (@therealtank)

Tank says this whole thing came ‘out of nowhere’, but as far as hearing loss amongst musicians goes, he joins a growing league of renowned artists such as Eric Clapton, The Who’s lead singer Roger Daltrey, and most recently singer Jessie J, the latter being diagnosed with Ménière’s disease.

The symptoms described by Tank – “I’m dizzy and can’t walk in straight line” – are commonly recounted by musicians, who tend to be amongst those most vulnerable to noise-induced hearing loss.

Musicians are estimated to be nearly four times more likely to suffer noise-induced hearing loss than those in any other profession, according to a 2014 study. They were also 57 percent more likely to have tinnitus, or the sensation or ringing in the ears.

Read more: 6 Tips for Musicians with Hearing Loss

Sharing is healing

Common as hearing loss may be, what makes Tank stand out are his updates documenting the medical ‘fight’ following this unexpected turn of events. Sharing is an important part of coping with hearing loss, it informs your loved ones of the slight adjustments that go a long way in keeping relationships strong. Tank’s wife, Zena Foster, commented on his first such post in the right vein – “I love you babe and don’t worry I can talk louder.” A sense of humor is just what one needs to see it through.

Tank’s latest post shows him talking soon after a steroid injection in the eardrum. But one of his most touching was a recent Instagram video, where he sits playing on his piano, singing these beautiful words of solace:

“If your fight is low I’d fight for you, if your sight is low I’d see for you, if your hearing is low I’d hear for you!” He laughs in between, saying the hearing’s “all clogged up…sounds like a distorted telephone in that ear, real weird man. And when I sing, I use too much air, I use my diaphragm and I get dizzy, more dizzy than I already am, but what, lot of worse things have been happening man…”


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tank (@therealtank)

Early detection

Imbalance and dizziness are disconcerting, but they are amongst the thresholds to be crossed before the change becomes familiar enough to live comfortably with. In cases of sudden hearing loss, seeking immediate medical attention can do wonders for controlling the situation.

Read more: How to live confidently with hearing loss.

Author Details
Mineli is an India-based writer with unilateral hearing loss and multilateral appreciation for all things silent. She’s a content writer by the day and a poet by night, and whenever there’s a moment free between the two, she takes off to the nearest forest for a quiet chat with the birds.