Alumni Spotlight: '78 Grad Sings Her Way to the Top
Lynne Fiddmont was just a high schooler when she began singing in St. Louis area jazz clubs. But it's not what you might imagine. There was no smoke, no liquor, and it wasn't 1 a.m.
"My high school music teacher, Vickie Boren, would go with me to these clubs in the late afternoon. I guess they were what you'd call 'appropriate' clubs," says Lynne, a 1978 graduate of Maplewood Richmond Heights High School. "I liked to sing 'No Regrets'," which she calls her signature song at the time.
Lynne Fiddmont grew up in Maplewood, part of a musical family. Her brother Keith is an accomplished jazz and R&B musician. At MRH, she sang in the choir, was a member of the student executive committee, was on the cheerleading squad, and was selected for the homecoming court. Following graduation, Lynne attended college in pursuit of a public relations degree. She earned that degree, but never pursued PR as a career.
"I just decided that I wanted to be a singer."
The early years were lean. At times, she and an accompanist would perform on the street for coins and dollar bills tossed into a guitar case. Ultimately, a musician with ties to the Berkeley School of Music took notice of Lynne and arranged for her to receive a scholarship to attend that prestigious school. More and more singing gigs soon followed.
One night, during a pre-concert sound check, a club employee approached her after getting a phone call. The caller wanted to audition some vocalists at 11 o'clock that evening, after the show.
The caller was Stevie Wonder.
"He was two hours late, I remember," says Lynne. "We wound up auditioning for him at 1 a.m."
After her tryout, an assistant to Stevie Wonder approached Lynne with one question: can you sing "Saving All My Love for You" by Whitney Houston? "I said, I don't really know all the lyrics, but I'll give it a try."
Lynne got the nod, and it wasn't long before she was on a six-month road tour with Stevie Wonder, the first of several.
In the years since, Lynne has toured with or performed in studio with Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Phil Collins, Seal, Babyface, Rod Stewart, Kenny Loggins, Lou Rawls, Burt Bacharach and Chaka Khan. She has performed on American Idol and sung for Barack Obama at the White House.
Lynne has won critical acclaim for her 2010 tribute to Billie Holiday called "Lady," and her 2006 release "Flow." Late last year, she released "Power of Love," a departure from her usual jazzy style into more rootsy songs. Next up: a World Music collaboration with a rising singer from Algeria.
Today, Lynne looks back fondly on the school district where she learned so much about race relations and the true meaning of respect.
"You know, when we [students] all got together in middle school, we had to learn to get along. And we did. It carried through to high school and beyond high school. The racial atmosphere at Maplewood Richmond Heights was... good," she recalls.
Lynne Fiddmont lives in Los Angeles but looks forward to a week-long visit to Maplewood in mid-June.
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