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Meet Katleen Dugas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katleen Dugas.

Katleen, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Raised by a French father (whose mother was a classical pianist) and an American mother, I was exposed to a wide variety of music, from R&B to the Rolling Stones, from Edith Piaf and Claude Francois to opera. Because of this, I enjoy blending musical genres and languages. At a young age, I had a particular passion for the gospel / R&B sound and soaring vocals. In High School, I won a national award in 2012 from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, Young Arts Achievement Award for a rendition of “Listen” from Dreamgirls.

After high school, I attended the Wanda Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University. I studied classical voice under Dr. Kelly Holst, who has had an illustrious career with Michigan Opera Theater, Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall. My current instructor, Diane Alexander, has received professional acclaim at the San Diego Opera, Florentine Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre and many others. I do love me a good opera, and the challenge of that genre; part of my goal in pursuing classical voice training was to ensure a long career and healthy voice and technique.

After graduation, I spent a year living and working in Paris. I continued classical singing with L’Academie de Musique de Paris Choir, but also delved into the world of jazz and started performing gigs in Paris.

Moving back to San Diego in 2017, my first “gig” was with Disney Entertainment Productions. I sang “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” in French, for the Christmas Castle Lighting Ceremony at EuroDisney, nationally televised on ABC’s television special. What I didn’t know then, was that this gig would disqualify me from participating in other Disney affiliate singing competitions, like American Idol… too bad. 🙂

I am blessed in San Diego to continue to perform a variety of music. In January 2018, I was named a winner in La Jolla Symphony’s Young Artist Competition, singing Der Hölle Rache from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”.

On the popular music front, I enjoy regular performances with San Diego’s most successful local cover bands including Republic of Music, Calphonics and the MarDels.

Jazz is also in my San Diego repertoire, and I currently perform in a variety of venues with San Diego’s most talented jazz musicians, most recently in a series of performances with Latin jazz pianist Irving Flores, and singing in Janet Hammer’s Andrews Sisters Trio: “Sweethearts of Swing”.​

My newest projects, and what I am very excited about right now, is songwriting. I have already signed a few songs for film and TV publishers, and am working on releasing several singles this year.

Has it been a smooth road?
As in any field, I imagine, it has not been a smooth road to get to where I am today. That being said, I have been so blessed with tremendous mentors along the way who have helped me navigate all the “bumps” and continue to help me pursue my dreams. Probably my biggest supporter has been our dear family friend Rick Shaughnessy. He has been encouraging me and supporting me since my high school days. We met when his son Dan approached me about joining his successful high school jazz band. From then on, Rick has helped me in so many ways. Everything from introducing me to amazing musicians (and mentors) in San Diego such as Gilbert Castellanos and Irving Flores, to giving me my first real sound system so that I could put on my own gigs and coming to all my gigs to help me set it up and run sound. I could never thank him enough. Irving Flores has also been and continues to be an amazing mentor that teaches me so much about jazz technique and continually challenges me artistically. As artists, it can be very easy to just stay in the zone we feel most comfortable with and I am so thankful that Irving pushes me out of this zone and has taught me so much about improv and given me a deeper understanding of the music.

Another big struggle I faced in graduating from college to “the real world” was stage presence and movement when singing Pop music. This is VERY different from everything I had learned as an Opera and Musical Theatre performer. Once again, I was very blessed to be mentored by The Republic of Music team who have and still are helping me learn so much about fun, audience involved performance. Rick and Tiana (Republic of Music band owners) have helped me so much with the technical aspects of a true pop vocal performance and Allison Smith (Republic of Music Vocalist) has been instrumental in helping release my inner Pop Diva on stage. With respect to songwriting and music business, Tracey and Vance Marino have been a true Godsend. They have spent countless hours giving me valuable information about the industry and protecting myself as an artist as well as collaborating with me on songs. Of course, there have been so many other people that have been instrumental in helping overcome difficulties but these are a few of those for whom I am grateful from the bottom of my heart.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a singer/songwriter and specialize in creating a wonderful musical experience for live events as well as composing music to give the same experience on the screen. Honestly, I am most proud of myself for not giving up and pursuing my passion as my career. I believe what sets me apart is my tenacity, my willingness to work my booty off to learn new things, and the versatility of my voice.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The music industry is constantly changing and evolving in every aspect. The biggest shift I am most excited to see is the changing of laws being made right now to give composers and artists a more fair pay with all the streaming services. I hope this change will enable more artistic people to be able to make a living from the streaming/sale of their art and give us more freedom to be creative. I love how much technology has already advanced to a point where we can make awesome records in our living rooms or bedrooms, so I look forward to seeing the continued evolution of technology with music.

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Image Credit:
Maddisen V. Media
David Pradel

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