R&B Legend Will Downing's Fights with Polymyositis, a Muscle Disorder

 Photo Credit: Curtis Lawrence

Photo Credit: Curtis Lawrence

Will Downing is a musical artist who’s voice has the commanding sound of God but the comfort and vulnerability of a man.  

There is no one like him who has been able to capture so many elements in one man’s voice.  He voice is booming like and ultrasonic boom, yet comforting, its soulful yet silky, its jazzy yet sexy and some how Downing seems to mesh it all together to create rich “baratonish” voice that soothes, transcends, captivates and entertains his delighted music audience.  

According to R&B Legend Patti LaBelle, Downing has a voice that makes you forget about everything.  

Wilfred Will Downing, known affectionately to many fans worldwide as, “Chocolate,” has been seducing and holding hostage the ears of audiences for over 30 decades through the span of 20 albums, count them 20 albums.  Downing’s voice has incredible range and versatility.  According to R&B singer, Regina Bell, Downing can do it all in that he can sing individually or combine R&B, Jazz, Christmas Music and even Gospel music.  

For years the Brooklyn born native, Downing, was a big success over in Europe and his music climbed up the charts there.  His music was played in heavy rotation in Europe.  In the United States, not so much, it took years before his music started being noticed in America.  So much so that Downing kept his day job working for a law office filtering calls.  

Downing, who went to the same prestigious music institution with R&B music sensation Stephanie Mills and Music Icon Barbara Streisand, spent many of his earlier years singing back up for  many groups an artist. Then in the early 2000, Downing finally finally began climbing up the music charts with his music.  

His music career began to skyrocket in Europe and the united states, he even had a top selling Christmas album in 2005 entitled, “Christmas, Love & You.  Downing was finally riding on a wave of much earned success.

In 2006, ll that changed for the worst!  On an evening out with his family, on an outing to go to the movies, Downing was so weak and tired that he couldn’t even turn the car steering wheel.  He then told his wife, Audrey Wheeler, that she should take him to the hospital.  According to Downing by the time they got him to the  hospital, “I was damn near paralyzed.”

It was there that they were told that Downing had Polymyositis, a rare, chronic, autoimmune muscle disease.  This disease weakens the muscles throughout the body.  The muscle weakness usually occurs in the muscles closest to the body’s core and those involved with voluntarily movement.  

 Photo Credit: Curtis Lawrence

Photo Credit: Curtis Lawrence

Downing’s wife was told, he would never walk again and he’s not going to make it, amongst many other life-threatening prognosis.  His condition got so bad that he was being feed intravenously through tubes.  He lost 100 pounds and most importantly, he lost his voice.  Downing said the doctor’s wanted to cut a hole in his throat.  He told them to find anther way, but he was not going to allow them to cut his throat.  

Over the next 18 months Downing was in bed or confined to a wheel chair and he was undergoing strenuous physical therapy.  Downing was determined to get better and get back to what he loved. Singing.  

Downing had a contractual agreement with his record company and he wanted to get back to singing.  Still sick and with some voice that was somewhat back to normal, Downing started recording entitled “After Tonight” from the hospital.  According to his friend, Tyrone Corbett, he could not even hold his head up.  Corbett states that he had to hold Downing’s head for him to sing.  Downing was so determined to do this album.  

Downing’s wife, Audrey, believes that working on this album is what kept him alive.  Downing completed the album and the single “God is So Amazing,” went on to be a hit.  

Downing went on to recovery and created 7 more albums after his polymyositis diagnosis.  The symptoms associated with Polymyositis include progressive muscle aches, muscle pain, fatigue, lung disease, weakness, trouble swallowing and more.  The cause of Polymyositis is unknown and there is no cure for this rare inflammatory muscle disease.  For information about polymyositis go to www.understandingmyositis.org.  

Posted on November 17, 2018 .