Country musician John Prine was ecstatic to learn throat cancer would not spell the end of his career, following extensive surgery on his neck and tongue.

The acclaimed singer/songwriter has been healthy for over seven years, but never takes his voice for granted.

The 59-year-old star recalls the start of his recovery: "Afterwards, I couldn't sing at first. I wasn't talking in a whisper, but I couldn't project at all. It was a slow process.

"They also found an initial point of cancer at the base of my tongue, smaller than the head of a pin. They removed that and hit a couple of nerves, so I had to have speech therapy.

"I knew (my voice) was going to be different, but I asked the radiologist if he'd ever really heard me sing. I said, 'If I can talk I can sing. I wouldn't worry about changing the timbre of my voice'.

"To come out the other side and still do what I do for a living, it's really a gift."