I am a passionate singer-songwriter. I dream of lyrics, melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. I grab my phone in the middle of conversations, walking on the street, on the subway, and jot down lyrics or musical thoughts.
I am also a plastic surgeon, wife, and mom of three kids. I found my way to music through a jumbled journey, with stops and starts, but here I am at 50, feeling energized and excited about my music and all that is ahead of me.
No one in my family was at all musical. I grew up in Manhattan, in an apartment where there was never really music playing. I had a record player in my room, and would sing along to albums I bought at the local record store. Yes, these were the real deal vinyl, and that was all there was then. No streaming, MP3, or any other form of hearing music. Just vinyl and the radio. My mom, a die-hard NYC girl, was born and raised in the Bronx. How she became a country music fan, I am not sure, but that was all that she played on the radio in the car. I grew up a Jewish girl on the Upper East Side of Manhattan listening to songs like “Dropkick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life.” Yes, I still remember all the words.
At around the age of 10, I decided I wanted to be a doctor. I read a book my grandfather bought for me called “The Making of a Woman Surgeon,” and was obsessed with the TV show M*A*S*H, which was about three army surgeons. I dreamt of being a surgeon one day and followed that dream to where I am today. So my journey through medical school, residency, and fellowship consumed my life, and along the way I met my husband and had our first child. I knew I wanted to work for myself, so with determination and hard work I opened my own practice and over the past 20 years have built it into one of the premier plastic surgery practices in New York City.
So, back to the music. While I was in medical school, I learned to play the guitar by ear and wrote about ten songs. My fellow med school student and neighbor taught me all the open chords on the guitar and I somehow strung together chord progressions and sung melodies to lyrics I wrote. At the time this was pure therapy. I performed in our med school “talent show,” but that was the extent of my musical career. After med school, the guitar collected dust and I was busy with work and family. About ten years ago when I was looking into piano lessons for my kids, I decided I wanted to learn to play the piano and write music.
Fast forward ten years and music has become my passion. Over the years I have met so many wonderful musicians, teachers, and mentors along the way. It feels sometimes like I have two lives. One of the surgeon, mom, wife and the other as a singer-songwriter. I hustle, I play open mics, I send my music around hoping that someone other than my friends and family will hear my songs. But for me, the joy has been in the journey and the friends I have made along the way. Learning to express myself through song, through lyrics, through melody -- that is the essence for me.
Jessica Lattman is a plastic surgeon based in New York City. She started writing music in medical school when her neighbor taught her how to play the guitar. She took a bit of a break from music to grow her surgical practice and her family. Jessica came back to music about 10 years ago, formally learned to play the piano, and is now a passionate singer-songwriter who can be heard at open mics and small venues around NYC. She regularly mentors women medical students in her Manhattan office and supports organizations that help develop the musical voices of women in NYC.
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