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Meet Janine Le Clair of Music Row Voice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Janine Le Clair.

Janine, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was born and raised in Ontario Canada where I studied music in high school and graduated with 13 extra credits as well as had private instruction. On scholarship, I was the only student (out of just 13 who were accepted nationwide into this one-of-a-kind program) to be offered my choice of either BFA Acting, BFA Voice or BFA Musical Theatre. I chose the latter. Under the instruction of incredible vocal teachers including Elspeth Maynard and Steven Henrikson of Windsor, Ontario, I began a journey that led me down a path of many more years of continued education on the voice. And at the young age of 20, I began taking on younger voice students. After university, and falling in love with Australia on a backpacking trip, I moved to Perth, Western Australia and pursued a career in music and acting. I was performing everywhere from the lead vocalist in a cover band, to ‘Frida’ in a renowned Abba tribute dinner show, to private events with my piano playing duo partner, you name it. I started working with a label out of Doubleview, Western Australia who encouraged me to write my own music and I began by writing melodies and lyrics to their musical ideas.

Essentially those were my first ‘co-writes’. But my first trip to Nashville in 2000 changed everything. After being saturated in the bands on Broadway and Music Row writers nights, I came back to Australia oozing country music and obsessed with new inspirations from rockabilly to pedal steels. And as the era of sexy Shania Twain was born, so was my country music career. I became intertwined with country music royalty in Australia, produced my first album with Mark Donohoe, who was Western Australia’s up and coming top country music producer. I started honing in on who I was as an artist. Alongside my recording career, I began taking on voice students again and within a few year, had a full plate between recording, performing and touring. My original songs were on country radio stations nationwide and as a voice teacher, my roster was full.

Upon a couple trips to Nashville, TN where I made connections among publishers, I was offered single song contracts by Walkerbout Music (Aristomedia) for a few of my originals. I traveled back and forth between Australia and Nashville for a few years and by 2008, I was based in Nashville, TN. I was signed with an indie label for several years, toured extensively across the US, as both a solo artist and member of trio, 3rd Wheel, whose first single released in Australia climbed to #10. On the songwriting side, I had a publishing deal in Nashville for ten years, and have had the privilege of having about a dozen of my songs cut by various artists in the U.S., Canada and UK and Australia. I’m part of the wonderful Words & Music songwriting program at the Country Music Hall of Fame, and I’m a professional member of the CMA’s, The Recording Academy and ACM’s. In recent years, both as an artist and songwriter, I’ve become a free agent and I love being able to choose with whom I work. I have new music in the works with various producers including pop/country Kate Malone and R&B GRAMMY winner Shannon Sanders, as I have a range of feels and messages within my original catalogue.

Whilst under the beginning stages of my contracts in Nashville, my label executives approached me about me vocal coaching some of my fellow label mates. The arrangement worked out very well, and I found myself flourishing my vocal coaching business in Nashville, as I had in Australia, but this time very specific artist clientele. In 2009, I officially founded Music Row Voice and on word of mouth alone, I was coaching 15-20 artists per week.

Music Row Voice gained a solid reputation and I maintained my Music Row studio location until 2017 when for various reasons, I decided to run the business from my home in Bellevue. All of my clients were pleased with the relocation, Music Row Voice continued to grow in clientele, including international clients and online sessions. Never did I imagine a global pandemic a few years later, and I’m very blessed that I was already situated at home, and very familiar with a virtual coaching platform.

Nowadays, Music Row Voice continues to expand, with assistant coaches, office manager and interns. I continue to manage both MRV as well as artist bookings.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Absolutely not a smooth road.

Some of my struggles at first were geographical. Juggling careers in two different countries. As a foreigner, it cost 20k + to maintain working status in the United States through the years. Also, I’ve found that 99.9% of the males in the music industry who worked with me (songwriting, producing etc) had ulterior motives and I would say that’s been one of the larger struggles, and a turn off.

Another struggle is the lack of consistency when trying to make a living. As an artist/songwriter, essentially you are your own business, and with that comes an enormous amount of business upkeep, ie paperwork, accounting, extra taxes as an independent contractor and many more things. And clearly COVID was/is a huge struggle for the entire live music industry.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
As a vocal coach, there are a few things that set me apart from the others. Firstly, I myself am a performer, I work with producers, labels and other artists in Nashville, and I’ve had songwriting experience as a published writer. This means I understand the business and can offer emotional support to the artist going through all the colorful motions with the entertainment industry. Secondly, I’m an em-path. I earn my clients’ trust quickly, which allows us to break down more walls on an emotional level. I have incredible intuition as to from where their blockages may be coming. Often vocalists usually have more blockages from an emotional or energetic level than from a technical one.

I’m known for my unique coaching style in that NO TWO lessons are the same. I have no standard ‘method’. Every lesson is tailor made.

If a client has a studio date, or tour, or live television performance to prepare for, we’ll be focusing on that. If there’s nothing on the books coming up, we’ll most likely be working on their technique and strengthening their voice. Or perhaps we’re focusing on songwriting for their album, or their very first karaoke experience. Whatever it is, I ensure they get a combination of technical knowledge, warm ups and care for their voice whilst attending to what’s pressing within their schedule or goals.

My specialty is connection with the audience. The philosophies clients are exposed to at Music Row Voice embody this self-coined phrase: Connection not perfection.

Other facts about Music Row Voice are: I am a multi-instrumentalist as well as a professional member of The Recording Academy, The CMA’s, ACM’s and I am known for connecting students with others in the industry. MRV offers other services such as in-studio coaching/interpreting producers and engineers desires, music theory/sight singing, voice healing, acting lessons and performance coaching. MRV is expanding and each assistant vocal coach is screened by me extensively, must be an incredible coach and share our philosophies.

I’m very proud that my virtual lessons are just as efficient as in person.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
I was a very active and extroverted child. I was involved in theatre, dance and later singing. I was very interested in the ocean, surfing, travel, 50’s and 80’s music, dancing, gymnastics and movies such as LaBamba.

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