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Remembering Leah Ottman, Minneapolis violinist and vocalist

An illustration of Leah Ottman, courtesy of Andres Guzman
An illustration of Leah Ottman, courtesy of Andres GuzmanAndres Guzman

by Cecilia Johnson

December 04, 2020

Leah Ottman, a Minneapolis musician who performed under the name LOTT, passed away at the age of 33 on Wednesday. Her cause of death has not been made public.

LOTT debuted as a solo artist in 2014, releasing the single "Parking On The Grass" via Homestead Records.

In addition to Ottman's solo work, she performed with We Are The Willows, Rogue Valley, Fog/Andrew Broder, Dessa, batteryboy, jeremy messersmith, and many more artists. She contributed to several recordings as a session player, including tracks on Poliça's United Crushers and Jacob Pavek's Illume.

From the outside, Ottman's relationship to music appeared diligent and playful. She started playing violin at the age of six, learning via the famously demanding Suzuki method. She was such an accomplished player that she was invited to join Father John Misty's band for Rock the Garden 2018. At the same time, she thrived on experimentation, often forming part of under-the-radar, one-off, and/or improvisatory ensembles. She was known for her skill with a looping pedal, often using her violin and her wits to build entire songs by herself.

Ottman never released a solo album, but she left a mark on countless people and records, in Minnesota and beyond. Below, we've compiled some of her music alongside a few remembrances from community members.

Update: Leah's family has published an obituary and announced funeral services to be held on Thursday, Dec. 10 at the Catholic Church of Saint Paul in Ham Lake, Minnesota. Visitation will begin at 11:00 a.m., with eulogy at 11:30 a.m. and Mass at 12:00 p.m. The service will be livestreamed on the Church of Saint Paul’s Facebook page. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for contributions to a fund to take care of funeral expenses and support musicians.

Remembering Leah Ottman

From the University of Minnesota's Dance program, where Ottman worked as an accompanist for about a year:

The U of MN Dance Program is deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and collaborator. Leah accompanied classes for us a couple of years ago, and her mesmerizing violin echoed through the building to the benefit of all. She just recently began work on a project with one of our very promising. To quote program director Carl Flink, "She played some of the most beautiful classes I've ever taught." Rest in power, Beautiful One.

This Sunday's episode of The Local Show will include music by – or featuring – LOTT. It will air on Sunday, Dec. 6 from 6-8 p.m. Central.

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.