Alum Jeanne Madsen sings across Europe

UVU alum Jeanne Madsen just got back from her graduation trip in Europe. She did what most college students would do on a graduation trip; sight-seeing, art-mongering, starving, and philosophizing. But she also sang in five Italian cities and recorded with the London Philharmonic.

After graduating with an Associates degree in General Academics from UVU, Madsen began to pursue her dream of recording an album. Her style is best described (in her own words) as “avant-garde,” this particular album is a mix of opera, contemporary, and jazz pieces.

Madsen is still recording her album Pagliaccio, (which is Italian for “clown”), which will drop sometime next year. She plans on recording the classical tracks with the Berlin Philharmonic, and the jazz songs with legendary trumpet player Jack Sheldon at Capitol Records Studios in Hollywood. According to Madsen, “[Sheldon] is an absolute legend in the jazz world, so I’m just like, over the moon.”

The album has not been picked up by a record label yet, but Madsen is hoping for one of the “big ten”- the largest labels in the UK and America. “I personally want it to be the Capital group, the BMG music group because then I can … live in London. … Signing with Capital and the BMG group will allow that.”

Madsen intends to use her degree at UVU to help get her into Oxford, to earn a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations.
If anyone mentions UVU around Madsen, she basically gushes with praise. “I love UVU with all my heart. Be proud to go there because it’s an amazing … place.” In our first interview, she disclosed that upon coming home and seeing the new sign saying “Utah Valley University” on the West side of the McKay, she was moved to tears.

Madsen credits much of her success to our university. “I had the hardest professors on the planet that stretched me and made me grow and made me work so hard. To the point where I didnt’ know if I was going to make it…. And so, because of being pushed to my limits like that, it made me know that I can accomplish very hard things.”

This lesson was essential to her career in the music business, which is infamous for its constant rejection of newcomers. “So, that was the biggest thing because a singing career is just really hard. And you have to put up with so much and you have to keep getting back up when you get knocked down…. And it taught me that, that I can get back up.”

In 2002, before coming to UVU, Madsen was a member of the opera company at the Venetian Hotel. With practices and performances adding up to seven hours of singing every day, after about a year she noticed that all was not well with her throat. She found that she had a tear in her right vocal chord.

Doctors told her to go on voice rest for a few months. “Now, voice rest means that not only can you not talk, but you can’t sigh, you can’t make any type of tonation or any type of sound from your vocal chords because it re-opens the wound. But, I didn’t get better. And I went to many … doctors, and no one could ever figure out what was wrong.”
Finally a specialist told her that she had a viral infection that entered her body through the tear, and that was why she wasn’t healing. After three years of recuperating and on-and-off vocal rest, she was finally able to start singing again.

“So, I am a living testament that even when the doctors say you’re never going to talk again, you can overcome it.”

After her album is picked up by a label, Jeanne intends to do a tour with a stop at her alma mater. “When [One Republic] were there, I was just … like, ‘This is going to be me. In like a year and a half or maybe two years.’ So absolutely, I want to come to the McKay.”

As a final few words of counsel for students pursuing a career in the arts, Madsen said, “My advice is keep going no matter what…. If you know that it is your gift and it is what you’re supposed to do, you just have to keep going no matter what happens. Like, if there is a … brick wall in front of you, you have to go through it. And if there is no way, you make a way.”

For more information and links to her myspace page and blog, visit

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