Though working a solid 20 years as a national spokesperson for the health care industry, Lee Ann has been able to combine and use that experience to begin a career within the music industry that has lasted 45 years. While she worked in the field of public relations, media relations, advocacy, disaster communications, and special events for some of the top ten health care providers or non-profits in the nation, she was able to take that experience and pour it all back into her first love, the music. She has been able to groom her clients for the big stage, festival participation, tour preparation, or radio,TV, and/or print opportunities.
Even while she spent much of her career in Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Austin, her role as spokesperson for various health care facilities always had an entertainment component to it. She was responsible for putting together huge fundraising events where she opted to find performers from Nashville, Los Angeles, or New York. Even a health care procedure itself gave her unique opportunities into the music industry. A press conference was held with a member of the Temptations after the hospital successfully performed a lung transplant. A chief of staff for one hospital asked his daughter to briefly cut her tour to work with Lee Ann on a new wing for the hospital. Making a way on one of their most successful tours was the Indigo Girls whose performance at the hospital helped to bring thousands of dollars to a much needed wing for patients with AIDS. There are so many situations like this where Lee Ann found herself working with international talent.
Lee Ann herself always had an active interest in the music industry as both a musician and a freelance entertainment writer. She began her career as an entertainment writer for publications throughout South Louisiana. She later worked herself up the ranks as an assignment editor in the news department for a local CBS affiliate. There she soon became a story producer for the nationally syndicated program PM MAGAZINE. Her stories revolved around Louisiana artists, including a story that had her working with the Diana Ross team. The producer working with Ross at the time was from Baton Rouge, LA. The story was a huge effort, not only because of the Ross connection. The producer that year was also responsible for obtaining talent and writing the songs for the 1984 Olympics. So from Diana Ross to rock groups like Loverboy, Lee Ann was seeped into a collective effort of what a young producer from Louisiana could accomplish in a year’s time and the amazing artists who counted on him to make their own music successful.
Because of Lee Ann’s position as a TV producer, an entertainment writer, and the photographer for the city’s newly built CajunDome, throughout the years she has interviewed, photographed or produced stories on many legendary musicians such as Gladys Knight, Bon Jovi, Little Richard, Fats Domino, YES, Kansas, James Brown, Percy Sledge, Frankie Beverly, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, The Neville Brothers, Ramsey Lewis, Bonnie Raitt, George Strait, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Aerosmith, Rush, and Luther Vandross, just to name a few at that time.
Lee Ann later worked with one of her first groups. A local gospel family from St. Martinville, LA called The James Family. On her first 6 months of working with the group she was able to land them a spot at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival where they performed for the first time at the Gospel Tent. Lee Ann also worked one of the first Festival International events as the liaison between the artists and festival organizers. While working with many of the drum troupes, Lee Ann learned the Western African hand drum, called a djembe (jim-bay). She was soon performing with djembe groups in Lafayette and Austin. She later moved to Austin where she managed a djembe shop, and taught lessons to young and old. She was most proud of her work with autistic children. From there, she took her work back to Lafayette and formed a prison ministry using the djembe. For the past 10 years she has taught the djembe to the incarcerated as part of her ministry called PrisonBeat. She has also taught the djembe in substance abuse clinics and rehab facilities.