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A girl named Jake from Fort Macleod preparing to record her first album

jake pratte

Jacqueline (Jake) Pratte will perform Saturday, March 26 at Lethbridge Lodge.

A girl named Jake from Fort Macleod is pursuing a childhood dream of a career as a full-time professional entertainer.
It took Jacqueline (Jake) Pratte more than three decades and miles of emotional twists and turns to make that dream come true but she’s now following her true path.
A piano vocalist, Pratte will present a two-hour show of covers and original music at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 26 at Lethbridge Lodge.
“I’m giving myself full-time to music, ” Pratte said. “It just seemed right to come home where my friends and family are and where it all began.”
The 42-year-old Pratte is looking for some help from her home town to ignite her career with the release of her first album.
Pratte launched a Kickstarter campaign on-line to raise $20,000 in 28 days to produce her album Ignition.
Pratte offers rewards ranging from a digital copy of Ignition to a two-hour personal performance and original song for contributions ranging from $1 to $5,000 or more.
The CD release party will likely happen at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod, which is where Pratte nurtured her early interest in music and performing.
Pratte’s parents, Bev and Barry, acted with the Fort Players at the Empress Theatre. She spent countless hours in the theatre watching movies and performances.
“When I was a kid, I used to spend my allowance to go to the Empress and see New West Theatre,” Pratte said of the live summer theatre performances. “Sheena Lawson, who was in the show, was my idol. I absolutely loved that woman’s voice.”
It was Lawson who helped Pratte land an audition with New West Theatre for her first professional show.
“It was amazing. It was so much fun,” Pratte said of working with the people she watched on stage at the Empress.
Pratte was an athlete growing up but turned to music and drama after she was sidelined by a serious knee injury. She wrote her first song, Love You Forever, at the age of 14.
At F.P. Walshe school, Wayne Burton convinced Pratte to audition for productions of Grease, Oliver and other plays.
Music and performing had to take a back seat while Pratte earned a biochemistry degree at the University of Lethbridge.
“I wanted to go to medical school,” Pratte said. “That was my goal, to work for Doctors Without Borders and help people.”
After graduating from the U of L Pratte got a job doing molecular genetics research at the McCaig Centre for Joint Injury and Arthritis in Calgary. She landed a scholarship to pursue a masters degree in medical research at the University of Calgary.
About 16 months into the program Pratte had a change of heart.
“I was a mess,” Pratte said. “I just realized this is not where I was supposed to be. I did not want to be doing a masters, I did not want to be going to medical school.”
Depressed and miserable, Pratte withdrew gave up her scholarship and worked at a variety of jobs in public relations and tourism. She joined Zengerra, a rock and alternative band in Calgary.
“It was great, I loved it, but inside I was slowly dying,” Pratte said. “Singing with a rock band was not what I wanted. I still had this guilt from giving up medical school.”
Feeling like she was a failure and a disappointment, Pratte later moved to Edmonton and spent about six months homeless and living in her truck.
“I spiralled completely down and hit rock bottom,” said Pratte, who has scars on her wrist from a suicide attempt. “I didn’t really want to die. The best way to put it was I was screaming that I needed help but I really didn’t tell anybody. Nobody knew how broken I was.”
Pratte found salvation at the Hope Mission in Edmonton and in a visit from her father who assured Jake that no one had given up on her and made her promise to play one song a day.
Pratte, who was then 30 years of age, would sit at the piano at Mission House and play. Other women in the shelter would gather around and listen, and that led to a turning point.
“They told me what my songs meant to them and what they got out of it and how it inspired them and made them hopeful. It led to this little impromptu healing circle.”
Pratte slept soundly and without fear that night for the first time in months, and awoke with the realization that music could be her way to help people.
After leaving Mission House Pratte worked at a variety of jobs, from teaching English in Korea to driving snow coaches on the glacier near Jasper.
Pratte sent a 10-minute homemade video to the Gary Parks Agency in London and landed a contract as a performer on a cruise line.
While playing piano and signing she met people in the music industry who previously recorded with Bon Jovi and Chicago. They offered to record an album for Pratte, which led to the Kickstarter campaign.
“It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, and it’s terrifying,” Pratte said.
Pratte is hopeful that people in her home community of Fort Macleod will take in her performance at Lethbridge Lodge on Saturday, and help ignite her career.
“This is me, giving myself permission to follow my oldest childhood dream, which is to be an entertainer.”

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