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LeEllen Dylaan | Bio


In the beginning… Baltimore, Benatar and other stories.


LeEllen Dylaan was due on March 6th, but was born a week later, on March 13th. And ever since… she’s been defying both gravity and time.


A singer, songwriter, eleven-string, fretless guitar player and extemporaneous percussion player, she had her first instruction in music before she was two. Living in a row house on Upnor Road, in Baltimore, LeEllen’s nursery shared a wall with the practice room of a drummer -- whose dedication and perseverance had him drumming into the wee hours of the morning -- so that, at a tender age, LeEllen was initiated into the golden interstices of rhythm.


Moving to the suburbs, LeEllen’s early studies in rhythm were soon put into practice with classical ballet lessons beginning at the age of five. And she was still in braids when she learned to play Beethoven’s Fur Elise and Stairway to Heaven on the piano. Then there was her first musical, Oliver, in fifth grade; classical pieces like Handel’s Messiah in eighth grade chorus; and by eleventh grade LeEllen was singing rock-n-roll for Student Government performances and choreographing dance numbers to James Bond scores; in twelfth grade she got the role of Cha Cha in Grease without even practicing for the audition; while a high school band, whose members included three rivaling all boys prep schools, forwent the traditional boy band set-up and thought it in their best interest to have her as their lead singer. After all, what sixteen year old could belt Pat Benatar’sHit Me with Your Best Shot,” and nail every note so brilliantly?


During spring break, her senior year in college, she took a road trip to Memphis to visit Graceland and Sun Studio. This trip marked a turning point: for the first time in her life LeEllen would go from thinking of herself as a dancer to admitting what was closest to her heart: singing and songwriting.


LeEllen wrote her first song on the piano. But one Christmas Eve, in a small consignment shop, she picked up an acoustic guitar, an Alvarez with a plywood top, and like an uncorked champagne bottle the songs began to pour out.


That following spring, ready to take her chances, LeEllen loaded a U-haul to move to Greenwich Village, but in a classic NY bait-and-switch, it turned out to be an illegal sublet she’d put a deposit on. So instead of New York, and life in the big city, she moved to the Appalachian Mountains where she recorded her first song at Virginia Tech.


The song got airplay on WRNR by the legendary Damian Einstein, who would deferentially introduce the piece with the sobriquet “by the lovely LeEllen.” Listeners started calling in, and soon the “B” side was being played, with other DJs at the station spinning it on their shows too. Not long afterwards, LeEllen was invited to go to Rockefeller Center and play a demo for Ahmet Ertegun, the co-founder of Atlantic Records.

Mr. Ertegun was a very well~mannered host. And as he took deep drags from his cigarette, and LeEllen sipped bottled Perrier, they talked of various things like, if LeEllen knew who Phil Collins was, and if a highway had yet been built between Washington, DC and Manhattan. He also showed her a picture of himself with Mick Jagger partying inside a limo. It was a very pleasant and memorable meeting, but having come this far independently, LeEllen wasn’t quite sure she was ready to switch from creating, to suddenly becoming a record company’s creation.


Instead she focused her energy on opening up an art gallery, in Georgetown, Washington, DC. Here was the opportunity to do it all, in a venue that had no artistic limitations, with art openings that featured art, performers, politicians and nonprofits all working side by side.


Pushing the limits of what an art gallery could accomplish was exhilarating; the gallery got to work with talents like Leonard Cohen, Moya Brennan of Clannad, Shirley Horn, Melanie, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Joe Scarborough, Marianne Williamson, Hafsat Abiola, the estates of John Lennon and Miles Davis, the White House and Nancy Pelosi. But it was also exhausting. John McEnroe, shortly after he opened his art gallery, countered that the art business was even more competitive than professional tennis.


It was time to once more get back to music, and this time LeEllen decided to take a break from the East Coast and explore the West Coast scene. She landed in Portland, Oregon. Making her home in the Pearl District, she composed prolifically, and played out at venues like The Aladdin Theatre, Mt. Tabor Theatre, Berbati’s Pan, The Dublin Pub, Starbucks, The Blarney Stone and Kell’s. Not one to ever stand still, in addition to doing her music, LeEllen spent her sojourn on the West Coast co-writing a screenplay that garnered support from the Oregon Film and Video Office and the Governor and Treasurer of Oregon and has since received an excellent critique from the film agent for the critically acclaimed movie The Field of Dreams. Another project, also smiling in the wings, which took shape during that chrysalis period, is a children’s trilogy that LeEllen co-wrote.


Departing from the West Coast with a suitcase full of songs and stories, LeEllen’s now ready to go out in search of that Third Coast. It’s been a number of years since that first meeting with Mr. Ertegun. And for LeEllen to work up her courage to know that she could go out into the world with her music and not lose her direction. (Maybe, from somewhere beyond the ethers, Mr. Ertegun is watching from behind a ribbon of cigarette smoke.)

So here it goes, the moment she’s been working on for a long time… let her know what you think. And, just maybe, you and she can discover that Third Coast together.  More.

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