Parishioner Spotlight

This week we begin a column called “Parishioner Spotlight” as a way for people to get to know fellow parishioners, and this week we begin with a parishioner who is no stranger to the spotlight.  You may know Jeanne Trevor as one of the parish’s cantors, but you probably don’t know what a wonderful singing career she has had, and still is having today.

     “I originally wanted to sing in the Opera, but back then the only way that could happen is if I would have gone to Europe,” Jeanne explained, as blacks were not allowed in the Opera at that time.  Jeanne began her singing career at the Apollo Theater as a new act. “If you didn’t perform well, you were sprayed with a water gun, and sent off the stage,” Jeanne said. She did well in her opening act and then went on to have a singing career in Los Angeles, as well as having a part in a movie, “Oregon Trail,” with Fred McMurray and John Caradine. 

      It was her cousin, though, who told Jeanne to move to

St. Louis to be a part of the famous St. Louis “Gaslight Square.” Jeanne described “Gaslight Square” as a “magic world, where everyone was like family. It had a radius of two long blocks.”  Jeanne did so well in “Gaslight Square” that it eventually led to her recording her first record album entitled “Jeanne Trevor Sings.”

     “My Catholic faith has been my shield, armor, and refuge,” Jeanne said she has fond memories of making her first holy communion in a church in Montclair, New Jersey.  “The Catholic Church has always been welcoming to blacks,” she said.

     Jeanne’s life hasn’t been all glamour, however. She had to have triple heart bypass surgery as a result of all the smoke she endured singing in the nightclubs. “I somehow knew I was going to make it. It was a challenge, but I saw my way through it,” she said.

     Jeanne will be performing in October at the Jazz Bistro. If you get a chance you should try to see her.

     Jeanne’s known in the St. Louis area as the “First Lady of St. Louis Jazz.” In 1969, Jeanne toured with a jazz quartet to college campuses around the world. According to Jeanne, her favorite country on the tour was Australia.

     Although Jeanne never had a chance to sing in an opera, she did perform in a few shows at The Muny, which Jeanne said was a lot like being in an opera. In fact, she shared the stage and sung with former St. Louis Cardinal Baseball player Ozzie Smith for the opening of The Muny Goes British, a revue at The Muny in 1999.

     To those who are thinking about making a living as a singer, Jeanne said, “It is important to get good rest, eat properly, and don’t drink alcohol.” She also recommended taking walks around the neighborhood to stay fit.