July 5, 2022
clear sky Clear 73 °F

Modern-Day Renaissance Man: Patrick Saint Ange shines on stage and everywhere else

Patrick Saint Ange with his guitar Patrick Saint Ange with his guitar
Patrick Saint Ange with his guitar Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

Singer, songwriter and musician Patrick Saint Ange explores racism in America through his music.

A junior majoring in English and sociology at Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, Saint Ange performs under the stage name Saint Parrk. He released “When Stars Lie” in April; the song is part of his ’70s-inspired album, Star Power.

“With this collection of songs, I’m trying to tell the story of what it’s like for an African-American man to strive for success in the music industry or the film industry. These industries profit from the voices of Black artists, but the people consuming the work very rarely understand what it means to be Black in America,” he says. “They can listen to the music and they can hear about the struggle, but they can turn it off and not have to think about it anymore.”

The arc of his songs looks at what might happen if he became famous and found fame wasn’t what he expected.

Saint Ange is delving into another subject with his writing — his cultural background. He is working on a script about Haitian mythology, trying to renew interest in stories he says aren’t being told anymore.

Also an actor, Saint Ange appeared in the University’s productions of the musicals A Man of No Importance and Sweet Charity. One of his favorite things about performing onstage is that every performance is different.

“My scene partner might give a line in a way that I’ve never heard them do it before and that’ll change the scene completely,” he says. “My job is to run with that and keep it in a place that feels real to the audience.”

In March, Saint Ange appeared in the Theatre Department’s virtual production of Everybody. He followed that with a role in a short, independent horror film released this summer, Don’t Be A Stranger.

Experience in front of and behind the camera helped Saint Ange land a position as a Harpur film associate last year. The new role, which he is continuing this year, has Saint Ange creating video content to “spice up” the Theatre Department and Harpur Edge social media accounts.

Regardless of how busy Saint Ange gets, he finds time to volunteer as a way of giving back.

“I moved around a lot when I was really young, which made keeping up in school very difficult. When I started second grade I wasn’t able to read or do basic math, but the organist at our church was a retired teacher and she helped me,” he says. “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be a successful student at all. Her guidance was what propelled me to be in college. That’s something I want to pay forward.”

Passionate about community service, particularly programs that support people of color, Saint Ange has been involved in the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper project since high school and has participated in the Binghamton City School District’s mentoring program since he enrolled at Binghamton. He also mentored first-year students in the University’s TRIO programs, helping them adjust to college; these programs provide services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“[Patrick] is a very thoughtful and deliberative individual who speaks eloquently in defense of his moral convictions. A very impressive young man overall,” says Nathaniel Mathews, assistant professor and undergraduate program director of Africana Studies. Saint Ange was a student in Mathews’ Africana studies 101 course and sought his counsel more than once.

While a drive toward racial equity lies at the heart of Saint Ange’s community service and message as an artist, he acknowledged that the University and American culture alike have more work to do on that front. However, he appreciates the support he has received from Binghamton’s faculty in understanding the world and his own experiences.

“There are great professors here who are always working with students, standing with us, trying to help understand us and allowing us to help understand them,” he says.

Posted in: Arts & Culture, Harpur