Lanita Chastain
Lanita Chastain

Lanita (lah–nee–tah) Chastain (born May 2, 1958) is an American jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer from Roland, Oklahoma. She can best be described as a singer blessed with an unmistakable timbre and attack.

Lanita’s earliest formal musical education consisted of classical lessons; she began singing in church at age 3; she studied piano from the age of six to thirteen and played alto saxophone in the middle school concert and marching bands. At the same time of this training, she was winning vocal competitions for her singing in Jr. High and High School choirs and ensembles, developing what she has described as an “intuitive” approach.

After her formal training, Lanita became Lead vocalist in several gospel groups alongside her husband, Ron Chastain. During this period she also sang soprano with the Fort Smith Chorale.

Her focus later turned towards improvisation as she began to sing for community events. Heavily influenced by singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Diana Krall, she fine-tuned her vocal phrasing and scat technique.

She would become lead vocalist, pianist and one of the founding members of a jazz band, Electric Park, supported by an electric bass, guitar, drums and electric keyboards. Later, Lanita formed another jazz band, the River Katz. She has been in demand to perform at area civic centers, in support of various organizations such as the Girls Clubs of America.

Lanita has performed regularly alongside her husband, Ron, and Ronald V. Myers, MD at the Fort Smith National Museum of History, celebrating the birthday of Fort Smith native and jazz band leader, Alphonso Trent. The trio later became the Roland Jazz Trio and have performed many venues, including a performance at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, in honor of Jazz Trumpeter Howard McGhee.

While she has written a few tunes, it is Lanita’s primary focus to preserve our Oklahoma jazz legacy through jazz standards and take her place as a jazz musician and vocalist in Oklahoma Jazz history.


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