Patrice Munsel was born in Spokane, Washington, the only child of Dr. Audley J. and Eunice Munsil. A precocious child, she displayed musical talent at an early age. Patrice tells it in her own words:
"I'm sure when I emerged from my mother's womb, the doctor slapped me, I hit a high C and slapped him back. Fortunately, I was blessed with parents who were a bit off the wall. In an insular city like Spokane, they were rare individualists, and thank God, since I was an only child, not much was denied me. At the age of six, I was studying ballet and tap and I aspired to be a ballet star and an artistic whistler...I saw the Disney cartoons, "Cinderella" and "Snow White" and the seven height-impaired individuals and I was hooked. There were always birds whistling in the background so I decided to whistle my way to Hollywood.
My parents found the only whistling teacher in Spokane (or, the word, as far as I knew) and I had a wonderful time whistling all over the house. I had a great pucker. Two years later, beribboned, sausage-curled, in toe slippers, whistling on piont, I was wildly applauded at recitals by what must have been an insane audience.
My parents became as certain as I, that I was destined for stardom and it was about that time that I started listening to the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. I was so enchanted that I decided not to become a famous whistler, I wanted to become a famous Metropolitan Opera star. It never occurred to me for an instance that this was a rather
Back in the first grade, my teacher had called my mother and told her that she thought I had a rather extraordinary voice, but my mother didnt take her seriously. But, I was singing all the time, so my indulgent parents, after my voice had been evaluated from one of the famous teachers, took off for New York so that I could study for a career in opera. I was fifteen.
Before we left for New York, my school gave me a farewell concert and I sang "The Bell Song" from the opera, "Lakme." Then, with tears streaming down my face, gazing soulfully into my teenage boyfriend's eyes, I sang "Ill Never Smile Again." I was a huge success. My boyfriend kissed me goodbye at the railroad station and my mother and I chugged off on the train to New York.
After one fiasco after another, we finally found a fabulous teacher and I started taking two voice lessons a day, plus piano, harmony and theory, French, Italian, fencing, coaching opera and just to make sure I had something to do, I went to the gym three times a week.