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Julie Lee - JPop.com
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Julie Lee

Julie Lee

Julie Lee


The life of Nashville-based singer/songwriter Julie Lee has always been a lesson in assemblage art. She grew up in Maryland on a steady diet of family stories, jazz and folk music, learning early the connection between history and the creative act. The raw ability of music to convey and preserve story mesmerized young Lee, as she watched the world change amidst the timelessness of Ella Fitzgerald and James Taylor. Later, after earning an art degree Read more on Last.fm
The life of Nashville-based singer/songwriter Julie Lee has always been a lesson in assemblage art. She grew up in Maryland on a steady diet of family stories, jazz and folk music, learning early the connection between history and the creative act. The raw ability of music to convey and preserve story mesmerized young Lee, as she watched the world change amidst the timelessness of Ella Fitzgerald and James Taylor. Later, after earning an art degree, Lee delved into the world of visual art, and found a creative home in the hammering together of rusty junk sculptures. Taking wood and metal relics of history, Lee reassembled them into something new and beautiful: timelessness and change as sculpture.

The old and new altogether. Continuity. By this time, Julie Lee had relocated to Nashville, and was writing music as well as creating visual art. Her Northern roots replanted, she was experiencing for the first time the music of the South: bluegrass and blues and Gospel sat alongside her experience of jazz and folk. "Blues, bluegrass, and jazz to me are very similar," Lee discovered.

"It's all a basic structure, and people veer off of that to create these amazing melodies with dissonance." With a smooth, lilting voice, which gracefully slips across the borders of musical genre, Lee began to experiment with her songwriting, assembling melodies and stories like a patchwork quilt. "I've gotten more interested in other people's stories, and more into writing about my family" she says. "My mother is really into genealogy, and the more I've gotten her to share with me what she knows, the more it's inspired me to do my homework there--to write something true about these people." Listening to the stories of her neighbors, reading biographies at the library, "I try to put myself in that person's shoes and take on another character's voice as my own. I use their vocabulary, and the style with which they'd articulate themselves." The result of Lee's experimentation with story and song is an ever-growing collection of timelessness and change.

Her music is homespun and raw, marrying together the traditional melodies of her musical roots with something new, yet warmly recognizable to the listener's ear. After three self-produced CDs, all recorded in Nashville's historic Downtown Presbyterian Church, the evocative music of Julie Lee is beginning to turn the heads of the music world. Recently, she has supported such artist as Alison Krauss, Vigilantes of Love, and Pierce Pettis. In 2002, Lee signed a publishing/production deal with Brumley Music, and is set to release her first studio recording, Stillhouse Road. The project, produced by Andy West and Mike Porter, is a culmination of her love for history and creativity.

Featuring some of the most talented players in Nashville, Stillhouse Road is a quilt of bluegrass, jazz, blues, and folk. And, much like the appeal of a quilt, Julie Lee is not afraid to let the seams show. A neat, overproduced, perfectly-packaged CD is not what she had in mind. Rather, she wanted to preserve the freshness and intimacy found on her previous recordings.

With the talents of such collaborators as Alison Krauss, slide guitar player, Colin Linden (O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack, Bruce Cockburn), and bluegrass artist, Dave Peterson (1946), she pulls it off beautifully. The music of Julie Lee is not simply about nostalgia. "Harlan Howard once said that songwriting is about 'three chords and the truth'. That pretty much sums it up--I long to encourage people--to say something of importance," Lee admits. And the songs of Stillhouse Road do just that.

Whether singing with guest vocalist Vince Gill about her own family during the prohibition on the title track, or exploring the deepest implications of faith in songs like "Your Love", each song carries with it a common thread of a time-tested hope, and the possibilities that love can afford. These are the stories proclaimed by her mother and father and Bible, neighbors and biographies. Hope perseveres and many waters cannot quench love. "I gain wisdom from other people's stories," Lee says.

With Stillhouse Road, she has offered wisdom gleaned; the kind of wisdom that makes you want to know your own story better. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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