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Dove Cameron Explains the ‘Damage’ That Changed Her Voice

If recent statements from Disney Channel alums like Selena Gomez, Austin Butler, and Cole Sprouse are any confirmation, it can be hard to be a famous performer — and apparently Descendants actress Dove Cameron was no exception! The actress, singer, and dancer who starred as twins on Liv and Maddie and progressed to playing Maleficent’s daughter Mal in the Descendants movies recently said in an interview that performing for years has had a direct effect on her vocal abilities.

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Dove Cameron Credit: celebmafia.com

When Dove Cameron played the twins Liv and Maddie on Liv and Maddie (which was her big break and won her the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in Children’s Programming), one of the twins, Liv, was a singer and actress. This meant that the Angry Birds Movie actress sang plenty of songs on the show, including its theme song “Better in Stereo”.

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Dove Cameron performing as Liv on ‘Liv and Maddie’. Credit: Disney

When Dove Cameron moved on to play the lead character Mal in the Descendants musicals, she also sang a great deal — and soon after, Dove Cameron performed many times in TV musicals like Hairspray Live! or stage musicals like The Light in the Piazza. When asked by an interviewer about her new sound (i.e. her “low and sultry” tones in solo songs like “Boyfriend” or “Breakfast”) as opposed to the “airy and sweet” vocals that she’s created in performances like The Light in the Piazza or Liv and Maddie, Cameron was open about the “damage” that had happened to her.

“I was very protective of my voice for a long time,” the young actress and singer explained. “I was born a coloratura [a type of operatic soprano], but it’s so hard to live that way. It’s monastic — you have to prioritize your voice above everything else. I remember meeting Kristin Chenoweth when I was 15 or 16 [while filming Descendants}, and I was like, ‘How do I do this?’ and she said, ‘Here’s the litany of ways that I’m able to preserve my voice.'” Kristen Chenoweth plays Mal’s mother in the films and is also a coloratura soprano with classical training, so naturally, Dove would ask the famous singer for some advice!

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Dove Cameron at the Met Gala. Credit: @dovecameron

However, Dove remembers thinking that “there’s no way I can do [all of that] and still do everything else I want to do. And so my voice accrued damage,” she concluded. “I spoke more, I sang more, I was working more — seven days a week, 18-hour days. And when you do that, your voice just gets raspier. Then I began to lean into that over the course of a few years in the recording studio”.

Now Dove Cameron might be using her raspier singing voice to her advantage in her new songs, but the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actress who advocates strongly for mental health awareness predicted that “if I were to do any kind of coloratura placement again, I’d need months of time to heal everything that’s happened.”

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Sofia Carson’s co-star from Descendants, Dove Cameron, performing at the Cinderella Castle. Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Dove Cameron also made it clear that she is not the only famous singer who has suffered damage to her voice after working too hard! “It’s like a running joke. The thing that me and Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish all have in common is damage, honey,” Cameron said. “But it’s true. If you want to talk about how the body reflects our lives, I do think that my voice developing in the way it did is a reflection of a lot of pain in my life.”

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Dove Cameron Credit: Columbia Records/Disruptor Records/ L.A. Times

Dove Cameron has gone through many tragedies in her young life, including the loss of her Descendants co-star Cameron Boyce. Have you been following Dove Cameron’s solo career after her work with Disney?

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!