Martine McCutcheon helps woman who lost voice box to cancer sing Christmas carol

A woman who had her voice box removed after a cancer diagnosis has performed a Christmas carol for her sister alongside Love Actually actress Martine McCutcheon thanks to vocal technology.

Mother-of-two Tanja Bage, a former theatre performer from Leeds, had her voice box removed after a throat cancer diagnosis in 2020, and now speaks through a speech valve.

Ms Bage singing through the Electrospit (Vodafone UK)

But through modern technology, McCutcheon’s vocals were transmitted from a recording studio into an Electrospit, a smart instrument, which Ms Bage was wearing around her neck, and the vocal samples travelled through her throat, allowing her to shape the sounds into Silent Night.

Ms Bage and McCutcheon were then able to perform the carol for Ms Bage’s sister Mia. The siblings were kept apart by Covid lockdowns during Ms Bage’s treatment and through her early recovery.

The duetters used Vodafone’s 5G network to sing in unison.

McCutcheon sang from a recording studio (Vodafone UK)

Ms Bage said: “The hardest thing about this (having my voice box removed) was the loss of my singing voice.

“Obviously, I do still have a voice, but not the one I was born with.

“My sister and I have always been very close, and she has always been my biggest fan.

“Being able to surprise her on her doorstep and perform in this whole new way felt really special… I never thought I’d get to perform again in this way.”

Martine McCutcheon and Tanja Bage (Vodafone UK)
Martine McCutcheon and Tanja Bage (Vodafone UK)

McCutcheon said she was “blown away” by the technology.

“To be able to partner with Vodafone to make Tanja and Mia’s Christmas super magical has been a real privilege for me,” the 46-year-old EastEnders star said.

“I’ve been so inspired learning about the laryngectomy community and hope this project will educate the wider public on how to help remove any stigmas those with diverse voices may face.”