By the mid-1990s, a lifetime of singing had taken a toll on Julie's voice. She had throat surgery in 1997, an operation that left her legendary voice permanently damaged. "It was not a successful operation, and tissue was removed. I didn't have cancer, I didn't have nodules, I didn't have anything," she says. "When you work on Broadway eight shows a week for a very long time ... a certain kind of muscular striation happens on the vocal cords. A lot of Broadway singers get it. So, sadly, I had to work to deal with the loss of a voice because it just didn't come back."
The specific problem with her vocal cords is that they don't meet, Julie says. "Wind just whistled through the vocal cords that would not come together because tissue was missing," she says. "I have a about six good low, low notes, and I can sing the hell out of 'Old Man River.'"