Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

Read a statement from Jenny & frontman Colin Meloy on her condition and plans.    

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud


Every so often a streak of painful reality invades our musically blissful oblivion, and sadly today is one of those days, with the news that Decemberists keyboardist Jenny Conlee has been diagnosed with breast cancer.


Conlee, a beloved fixture in the band, is expected to miss the Portland band's upcoming shows in order to undergo treatment.


Frontman Colin Meloy addressed fans with a statement on the band's official site, as well as a word from Conlee:


About a month ago, we all at Decemberists HQ got hit with some pretty hard news. Jenny Conlee, our since-the-very-beginning accordion and keyboard player and all-around rad person was diagnosed with breast cancer. If you or anyone in your world has been handed a similar diagnosis, you know what a bolt-out-of-the-blue this news can be.


The good news is that Jenny caught it early. And while the prognosis is very, very good for a full recovery, tackling the disease will mean some intensive treatment for our Jenny as well as a lot of important recovery time.


So I’m writing this to say that, weighing our options, and with Jenny’s fervent blessings, we’ve decided to go forward with our scheduled tour dates this spring and summer.

What we know now: Jenny will very likely miss all nine of our concerts in May and June.  We’re all hoping that her recovery will be such that she’ll be able to get back on board as soon as possible.


And now, a note from Jenny:


Hello to Everyone,


I am very sorry to say that I will be missing a few shows coming up as I go through treatment for breast cancer. It has been great to be on tour these past few weeks. The band and crew are like family to me and have been incredibly supportive and understanding. To be making music with everyone and seeing the fans has helped me to feel more positive and keep my mind off of my diagnosis. But, alas, as the tour winds down, it is time for me to get back to reality. I will try to get into surgery as soon as I can after we return from this leg of the tour so I can begin my recovery. There are still a few unknowns out there concerning my cancer, but I am thinking positive and hope to be back on the road soon. Thanks for all of your support! See you soon!


Lots of love,



Thanks for everyone’s understanding during this crazy time.



Colin Meloy

The Decemberists


The band will carry on their currently scheduled tour dates while Conlee fights and recovers at home. The Decemberists currently have nine shows planned during May and June and have not yet announced a temporary replacement for Conlee. As Meloy writes in the statement, "If you or anyone in your world has been handed a similar diagnosis, you know how out-of-the-blue this news can be." 


We wish Conlee all the best, and for a speedy recovery.