Jazz singer hails from England

Born in Devonshire, England, Patricia Williams Rivera, better known as Patti Lane, was drawn to music during her early childhood days when she would listen to records with friends. They would sit in silence and listen to albums in their entirety, after which they would discuss the music and try to imitate the artists they had grown to admire.

Lane moved to Guam during the 1970s after singing throughout Japan and in Europe where she met Duke Ellington who encouraged her to continue to sing. While in Europe Lane had the fortune of meeting many famous jazz artists working alongside Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and Carmen McCrae. Famous singers June Christie and Peggy Lee stand out as Lane’s inspiration – artists whom she wanted to emulate because of their beautiful songs and lyrics.

While on Guam for just a few days to wait for the issuance of a visa to return to Japan, Lane met pianist Dennis Mannawaiti of New Zealand in a local piano bar whose playing impressed her. She soon joined Mannawaiti on stage and sang along to his accompaniments. At the invitation of Mannawaiti, Lane returned the following evening to perform with him. The two went on to perform together and Lane remained on Guam, growing in popularity for her ability to sing, write songs and entertain.

Lane performed with all the great jazz artists on Guam including well-known musicians Forrest Harris, Carlos Laguana, Sr., Carlos Laguana, Jr., Patrick Palomo, and Mike DiAmour. The jazz scene on Guam was limited and clubs featuring jazz would oftentimes offer musicians gigs only two nights a week. The island’s small population, as well as the popularity of Chamorro and rock music made the spread of jazz a challenge during its early days. She played at every establishment offering jazz music throughout her years as a singer. Guam’s media and music community widely celebrated Lane, often featuring her in local publications.

Lane had a great love for jazz standards, drawn primarily to the lyrics of these songs. She strongly believed that the worth of any song, no matter how wonderful its melody, rests solely on the beauty of its lyrics. Lane’s love of jazz was rooted in the freedom of expression promoted by the genre. With no strict or concrete guidelines, jazz is open to an artist’s particular stylization and creativity. Lane died in February 2008 after a year long bout with cancer.

On Guam

There’s a lovely little island, not so far away
Where the people always wave at you with smiles.
It’s just perfect for a honeymoon or holiday
And the sandy beaches stretch for miles and miles.

And in the evening you can bar-b-que,
Beside an island moon.
And even in a storm, the weather’s warm.
And the Sun will come out soon.

If you ever have a chance to make a get away,
And a longing for fiesta comes on strong.
I’d suggest you go and buy a ticket right away,
And by tomorrow you could be with us on Guam.

…on Guam on Guam on Guam…..

Words and music by Patti Lane

By James Perez Viernes, PhD

Editor’s note: The photos and initial research for this entry is courtesy of Mico and Stevie Scott’s Jazz on Guam: An Oral History, a project funded by the Guam Humanities Council and in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.