Many people have come to know Patrice Pike from her years as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the popular Austin band 'Sister Seven'. Patrice and Sister Seven toured the United States and Western Europe in support of three independent releases and three major label albums. From Sister Seven's jam-band beginnings to their Billboard-charting radio singles, they headlined clubs and supported massive shed tours. Chris Riemenschneider of the Austin American Statesman sums up the band's multifaceted success; "Back when it was still Little Sister, Sister Seven epitomized the Austin jam-band phenomenon. Eventually though, the quartet sharpened its songwriting and recording style and became that rare local band that could pack the clubs on weekends and go out and earn national radio play the rest of the week. In recent years - when we've had live local favorites like Vallejo and Bob Schneider's various groups on one end, and radio bands such as Fastball, Dexter Freebish, and Dynamite Hack on the other - they were the only real instance of those twains ever meeting." Over those years Patrice Pike performed onstage with the likes of Dave Matthews, Sarah McLachlan, and Natalie Merchant, to name a few. The disbanding of Sister Seven and the release of her first indie solo effort has established Patrice Pike as one of the best current unsigned artists today.
There's an excellent description in the Chicago Free Press about Patrice's beginnings in the music world. Jen Earls writes, "Pike grew up a musical child, influenced early by [artists] such as Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, and Elton John, before getting into Motown." "I listened to Stevie Wonder every day," Pike says. She also played violin, French horn, and sang.
In her teen years Pike sang and studied jazz, opera and traditional African-American spirituals at Booker T. Washington High school for the performing and visual Arts in Dallas. "Back then, we were just a bunch of kids trying to stay out of trouble and surviving by being in that godsend of a place. It was my saving grace, I mean, there were people in my class that I was hanging with like Roy Hargrove [Grammy award winning Jazz trumpet player] and younger kids like Peaches [Erykah Badu] just being creative and getting exposed to all these amazing things. I remember getting to watch Gregory Hines teach a class of dance students, and sitting down one on one with Winton Marsaillis telling me that it was all right if I didn't want to be a jazz singer. He said, "It's really just about being soulful, Patrice. Just do what you love." Patrice comments, " We were all so lucky to have that place. It forever solidified my conviction that I am a musician."
Earls continues, " In college she wanted to study jazz, but at the time, the famed University of North Texas music program didn't offer a full curriculum for vocalists. By then Pike was learning more playing with the band Little Sister [later named Sister Seven] than she was in college classrooms."
"She traded her textbooks for smoky bars." "The school of Hard Knocks, that's it," Pike says. "The stuff I've learned [since I was 15] I wouldn't trade it for any piece of paper."
Since then Patrice spent the majority of her time making records and touring with the band Sister Seven. After the band changed their name from Little Sister due to a possible battle over the name trademark, the band was signed to Arista Records on a new but short lived moniker Arista Austin under Nashville Label Hero Tim DuBois. During the next five years the band played with many international bands and solo artists as well as charting once in the Billboard top ten and again in the top twenty later just before leaving Arista. Their top ten Single co-written by Patrice along with Wayne Sutton and Stephen Barron led them to Arista proper under Clive Davis in New York.
The band made their last studio album "Wrestling Over Tiny Matters" which contained the top twenty Billboard hit written by Wayne Sutton,"Only Thing That's Real" and was co-produced by John Shanks. Following Clive Davis' departure from Arista, Patrice along with members of Sister Seven decided to disband in 2000. With a lot of music in the wings and much inspiration, Patrice has gone on to define her creativity as a solo artist. She recorded her first full length independent album "Fencing Under Fire" with the help of co-producer/guitarist Wayne Sutton (band mate from Sister Seven), Jim Watt's who worked on the Emmylou Harris album Red Dirt Girl as assistant to Malcolm Burn, and Ethan Allan who produced albums for Better Than Ezra, mixed Throwing Muses, and was Daniel Lanois' assistant for many years. Patrice and Wayne released this album on their own new indie label ZAINWAYNE RECORDS in 2002. They paid to promote the album to AAA radio formats with money from sales and were in the top ten most added for the first several weeks, being the only totally independent album with no major label or major indie ties on the chart along side Sonny Landreth, Dar Williams, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and David Grey, etc.
Patrice has been touring much of the year in 2003 including playing the Austin City Limits Festival with Artists such as REM, Al Green, Ben Harper, Ween and the High Sierra Festival which featured Michael Franti and Spearhead and many other amazing bands. Now she is wrapping up touring for the year to finish a new album which will be released in 2004. She is also serving on the board of directors for the Sims Foundation in Austin, which helps to provide mental health services for musicians living and working in Austin, as well as working on the Fairy Tree Education Advocates, which she co-founded with award-winning Secondary Educator Keitha St. Clair.
"I had a major shift after my experience in the last 10 years in the music business and in the world. The artists who have always inspired me have been outspoken in life as well as in their creative medium and I am committed to continue that tradition. I LOVE making music and dedicating my life to public service at the same time. I'm so grateful to be able to sustain my life via this path. I plan to continue making records, performing live, traveling the world and empowering others to create what they want to out of the world we are living in."