Artist Spotlight : Patty LeClair

Kristi Ruff

Patty LeClair started her vocal career with her name in lights. Well, not really, but she did have a solo in a first grade rendition of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” This introduction to performing made her realize that she “just loved being on stage, singing to an audience.”
LeClair began singing with the Northwest Girls Choir in Seattle in the third grade and from there embarked on a musical adventure that led her here to Lawrence. She played the saxophone in jazz band from middle school to the end of high school, and that was initially her intended major. In her senior year of high school, however, LeClair realized that “singing is what [she’s] passionate about” and decided to make vocal jazz her career. During her college search, she attended a performing arts college fair. She stopped at tables for renowned music schools, but all of them gave her a strange look (the likes of which she can demonstrate for you) when she said she wanted to major in vocal jazz performance.
At the Lawrence University table, they told her they “had it covered.” LeClair then decided that she could “put up with the Midwest,” because Lawrence’s campus was “a place where [she] felt like [she] could be at home.” She is currently piecing together her own curriculum and coursework in order to fulfill the requirements of her degree.
LeClair has put away her saxophone, but she still enjoys listening to instrumentalists, like Clifford Brown and Miles Davis, and takes her vocal inspiration from Ella Fitzgerald and Diana Krall. She also works with jazz combos on campus to get gigs around Appleton, does recording projects, and sings with the Concert Choir.
As for her future? “I am definitely not going straight to grad school,” LeClair said. “I want to get whatever opportunities I can to sing.” She will probably move to a big city and attempt to establish herself as a performer. LeClair would love to ultimately make it as a “gigging jazz performer” and hopefully a recording artist. However, she would also like to be a vocal jazz professor someday. “There are just so few [people] with the right credentials,” she said.
First however, she intends to “hide away in Appleton, Wisconsin for four or five years before [she] presents [herself] to the world.” Let’s hope the world is ready when she emerges.