13/11/2014 10:56 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ne-Yo's Voice Sparks Crippling Seizures In Mum - So She Had Part Of Her Brain Removed


A mum had part of her brain removed in a bid to stop crippling seizures every time she hears pop star Ne-Yo's music.

Zoe Fennessy, 26, has an epileptic seizure within seconds of hearing the singer. His voice makes her freeze, throw up and unable to react to the world around her.

She has even taken to wearing earphones whenever she goes shopping just in case the 'Let's Go' singer's songs are played in stores.

Zoe has been clinically diagnosed with 'musicogenic seizures' which are triggered by the tone of Ne-Yo's voice.

And in June, surgeons removed part of her left frontal lobe to try to stop the affliction, but sadly it failed.

Now the heathcare assistant - who has been unable to work for six months because of her affliction - has been told it's likely she will have the bizarre condition forever.

Zoe, from Retford, Nottinghamshire, told her local paper: "I don't dislike Ne-Yo or his music, it just dislikes me unfortunately.

"I'll be walking around the supermarket doing my food shopping and I have to put my earphones in to listen to my own music just in case it comes on.

"It's the same with most shops. I have to walk in with my ear phones in at first just to make sure they don't have Ne-Yo on. "If he ever releases a greatest hits album it's going to be a nightmare.

"Whenever I hear the first few beats of the song I have to drop whatever I am doing and run.

"People might think it is funny - and I can laugh at it myself - but it's ruined my life."

Zoe, who has an eight-year-old daughter, had her first seizure on New Year's Day in 2006 after a long period of sickness.

When the seizures increased to six a day she was sent for a brain scan and was diagnosed with epilepsy.

It wasn't until she heard Ne-Yo's first big hit, 'Give Me Everything' featuring Pitbull - which topped the charts in May 2011 - that she had her first music-induced seizure.

Zoe said: "It took me a while to realise that they were being triggered by his songs, and I think it wasn't until I had heard it for about the 15th time that it finally twigged what was going on."

She was referred to Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital where doctors played her Ne-Yo songs and were amazed when they induced a seizure.

The music attacks became more difficult to manage as the singer became more popular with every song he released, including top 10 hits 'Let's Go' and 'Turn Around' in 2012.

She eventually had the surgery to remove a large chunk of her left temporal lobe where doctors thought all her seizures may originate.

But while the symptoms of her epilepsy have reduced, she still has a fit every time she hears Ne-Yo's voice.


A musicogenic seizure is epilepsy triggered by certain types of music or even specific frequencies of pitch for which the person's brain has a low threshold or tolerance.

These sounds trigger abnormal activity on the brain. In some cases, merely thinking of the atmosphere and the emotions associated with a certain stimulus is enough to induce a seizure.

They may also occur during sleep.