Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, and raised in Red Deer, Alberta, Patrice Jégou comes from a family of amateur musicians. Initially, though, her passion was for skating. She was on the ice by age 7 and developed to the point that she turned pro at 18, first as a coach in New Zealand and later as a performer with a touring ice show in Mexico.
Jégou might still be doing lutzes and axels — actually, she still skates in her spare time — if not for a few words that a fellow ice show cast-mate made after hearing her singing casually to herself. “We were just going off for intermission when my skating friend said, ‘Hey, you’ve got a nice voice. You should think about taking some vocal lessons when you get back to Canada.’ So I did.”
Did she ever. Jégou progressed rapidly. In fact, she eventually earned a Doctorate in Classical Vocal Performance from Rutgers University. She also holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Calgary, and a Master of Music degree from Belmont University in Nashville (both Classical Vocal Performance). Patrice did her first recordings too, including an album of Spanish songs by Shostakovich, Braga and other composers, in 2006; her debut jazz-pop album SPEAK LOW in 2014, and the big-band/jazz-pop record IF IT AIN'T LOVE in 2019. It's an understatement to say that a lot has changed in the world since 2019.
During the pandemic lockdown, Patrice and her husband/producer Yinka Oyelese decided to set up a recording studio in their living room and make the best of a very bad situation. At a time when many musicians were at home and off the touring circuit, Patrice and her husband felt it was a good opportunity to collaborate remotely with several musician friends. The first song she recorded was “Peace” written by Michael McDonald and Beth Nielsen Chapman. Patrice collaborated with Nashville-based pianist Pat Coil, and the results were so beautiful that Jégou and her husband decided to record an entire album of uplifting inspirational songs.
Upon hearing Patrice’s version of “Peace,” Chapman sent Jégou several other songs for consideration. After listening to “There’s A Light”, Jégou immediately knew she had to not only record the song, but also to make it the title song of the album. The lyrics represented everything Jégou felt she wanted to convey with this project. Patrice comments, “As we pondered selecting a title song for the album, we felt strongly that ‘There’s a Light’ was the perfect choice. Beth’s opening lyrics are, ‘There’s a light, there’s a light, in the darkness,’ and I couldn’t help but feel that her hope-filled words were the perfect message for the unprecedented time we had been going through.”
THERE’S A LIGHT is an album of 12 inspirational songs that spans pop, rock, a cappella, singer-songwriter, Gospel, and hymns. The album features more collaborations with Coil, but also members of the multi-Grammy winning group TAKE 6, and the 60-piece Budapest Scoring Orchestra and its 32-voice choir. Jégou and her husband also called on old friends Mark Kibble, Khristian Dentley, Alvin Chea, Abraham Laboriel, SR., John “JR” Robinson, Luis Conte, Michael Thompson, and David Paich, as well as new collaborators Joe Robinson, Tim Carmon, Wayne Bucknor, and Raul Ferrando. What started as a one-song recording, grew organically into a complete album with some of the world’s top studio musicians: musicians who were lending their talents to a project that Patrice and her husband hoped would lift people’s spirits.
The results are gorgeous. Opening with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”, followed by “Over The Hill Is Home” - originally recorded by TAKE 6 - the album goes through 12 songs until the closing moments of the hymn “This Is My Father’s World” backed by Bucknor on piano, and the Budapest Scoring Orchestra.
THERE’S A LIGHT features songs produced and arranged by Mark Kibble and Khristian Dentley from TAKE 6, Nashville studio legend Pat Coil, celebrated pianist Dr. Wayne Bucknor, and respected orchestral arranger Raul Ferrando. To round it out, Patrice enlisted top recording and mixing engineers Don Murray, Tony Shepperd, and Marcelo Pennell. Jégou explains that this project not only gives her an opportunity to share her faith, but to offer music that will encourage and comfort. Patrice sums it up: “It is my prayer that the 12 tracks on THERE’S A LIGHT will bring some joy, hope, and peace into your lives. I hope this music will bless you.”