Very few people get recognized as hall of fame worthy, but Pierre resident Patty Ree is one of those few.
Patty, a singer, was inducted into Legends of Dakota County Music Hall of Fame last May.
The Dakota hall of fame recognizes country music performers from both North Dakota and South Dakota.
Since Patty was born in 1944, music has been a part of her DNA. In fact, everyone in the family has musical talent.
“I was blessed to have parents that embedded this into me. I didn’t even know I could sing until my father said, ‘Come here Patty, I want to show you something.’ He sat me down, put a guitar in my hand … he taught me three chords and then he said, ‘Sing this song,’” Patty said.
She told her Father she couldn’t sing, she didn’t know how. He insisted she could. And at age 12, she found a lifelong passion.
“He worked with me and worked with me. The very first song he taught me was ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ and to this day I sing it,” Patty said.
Her brothers Buddy, Terry and Calvin Ree — known as Tiny — are all musicians. Terry is one half of Williams and Ree, a musical comedy duo that performs nationally.
Patty regularly performed with her brothers growing up. She continues to perform with Buddy who lives in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
“The whole family was musically inclined,” Patty said.
Singing has taken her across the state, singing for barn dances, weddings, birthdays and more.
“I didn’t pursue it to do it professionally because it was more like a fun thing to do,” Patty said.
Patty never sought out recognition, if an agent ever approached her that was great, if not, she was perfectly content.
When she got a call in March telling that she was going to be nominated for the hall of fame it came as quite a surprise.
“When this guy called me I could not believe it. I got chills,” Patty said.
The guy who called her was Maynard Kadinger.
Through the years, Kadinger has seen a number of talented artists in North and South Dakota but didn’t think those artists got the recognition they deserved. This phenomenon prompted him to found Legends of Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
“Patty had been in Sioux Falls before and got up on the stage with other entertainers a few years back and what a voice. She should have been in Vegas, ‘cause that girl, what a great sound,” Kadinger said.
Terry, Buddy and Tiny, who is deceased, have all been inducted into the hall of fame as well. Tiny was posthumously inducted along with Patty. A total of 14 were inducted into the hall of fame this year.
“I just can’t say enough kind words about the family, I just can’t. I’m so happy I got them all inducted and I feel good about it,” Kadinger said.
Patty was joined by her brother Buddy at the induction ceremony held in Tea, South Dakota.
“I just cannot explain the feelings I had. I was so emotional with happiness. (It) was unbelievable. There were so many people there, so many talented people there. It was the highlight of my life,” Patty said.
Patty still continues to perform. She’s found herself singing gospel at various churches around the community.
Her move into singing gospel was part accident and part fate.
Roughly four years ago, she attended several services at the Lakota Chapel in Pierre and asked the reverend if she could play music there.
Her offer was accepted and she quickly called Buddy to ask him to join. He accepted.
“My Mom used to say we should sing for God. Back in those days we were like, ‘OK Mom, we will.’ We never did,” Patty said.
Even though Patty has never sought recognition, she hopes this new-found recognition can inspire others. Particularly other Native Americans like herself
“I just want to share my story with everybody out there, especially the Native Americans young and old. If they’re musicians singing and playing, keep on doing it.”