THE debut album from JoAnna Lee has so many interesting…
tales, avenues and sounds. On So Free’s title track; one hears a strong young woman who is following her own path and ignoring the doubters. A sultry and passionate voice helps highlight music full of richness, strength and emotion. I talk to Oregon-born artist Lee about her album and the themes addressed within. She discusses her new home of Austin, Texas, and what the music scene is like there.
I was keen to know about her beginnings and how she came into music - leaving her home of so many years was an anxious and unsure time. I learn more about a brave and ambitious young artist who is creating some of the most intoxicating and exciting music in Texas.
I learn more about Lee’s touring plans and the kind of artists she connects to; whether we will see her in the U.K. and the story of her latest single, The Real Thing.
Hi, JoAnna. How are you? How has your week been?
I am great!
It's been quite a busy past couple months but I am enjoying every minute of it.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
I am JoAnna Lee: female singer-songwriter/guitarist; located in Austin, TX.
I love sharing with others my feelings through my music and through my songs - I know that many people can relate.
Tell me about The Real Thing and how that song came together? Was it inspired by a particular person or relationship or just capturing a particular mood?
I wrote this after moving to Austin. I was hanging out at a local bar with a friend and there was a guy playing - who happened to be way too drunk to be performing...
I convinced him to take a break and I would cover for him - and so I did.
That moment I took over, a guy walked in through the door and I couldn't take my eyes off of him. Once I met him, we connected and it inspired the feeling of new love… and, how (all who start to make the fall question) could it be the real thing?
I believe the album, So Free, is out on 22nd September in the U.K. What can you reveal about the themes and ideas examined on the album?
So Free is a true and honest introduction and reflection of who I am and where I have been - in love, relationships and my growth into figuring out how love really is.
You hail from a small town in Oregon. Was there a big music scene there? What was it like growing in such a place?
There definitely wasn't a big music scene there - speaking on most people’s behalf – but, through my eyes, it was something special.
So many great artists I know were living in the same town with so many talents - and we had the opportunity of being able to live in each moment and inspire and encourage each other to always keep working towards greater things.
Now, like so many great artists, Austin is home. How inspiring is the city and are there any particular bars/venues that you love playing there?
I love Austin.
Austin is my true inspiration. It inspired me to be free, to live for me and truly get to know the person I am. It made my art grow and it showed me the possibilities are endless.
So many venues I have loved playing there: Cedar Street Courtyard is definitely one of my (most) favorite places to play - but there are many that I look forward to playing at.
How early did music arrive in your life? Did your family get you into it at a young age?
I started singing as early as I can remember.
My family definitely inspired so much, but, above it all, I always knew I wanted to sing.
Was there a particular moment when everything sort of ‘clicked’?
Every time you feel what's right in your heart is when you feel it ‘click’.
That's happened several times in my life, in so many ways.
Tell me how you came to the attention of producer Dwight Baker?
Well, one day I got a call from Les Cutmore - who's the label owner of Cutmore Records - who recently signed me. We were talking about some of my songs and he said there's this producer in Austin - and I'd like to hook you up to work on a track or two. I said yeah, why not.
So, he gives me the address - which is only about a thirty-minute drive from me - he then told me to be there tomorrow at twelve-noon and just ask for a guy called Dwight Baker!
That's how me and Dwight hooked up.
The fan numbers are building on social media; you have a lot of supporters behind you. How humbling is it and how important is the backing of your fans?
I am so very thankful.
If it wasn't for so many of the people who have supported me, I would have folded in a long time ago. So happy so many have been there through it all and will be there for me continuously.
Has there been a memory, thus far, that stands out as particularly special?
To see my music video reach as many views as it has within a short amount of time was truly humbling - and showed me that all my supporters are still listening.
What kind of tour dates are coming up? Any plans to play the U.K. very soon?
I have a lot of shows coming up. Some of them will be actually in the U.K. within the next month.
Looking forward to planning a tour soon… and just working hard to promote the new album, So Free.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Depends on which level you are talking...
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why
Stevie Wonder - Hotter than July
Has (on it) my favorite song of all time: All I Do.
Eric Hutchinson - Sounds Like This
One of the (most) happiest times I've felt was listening to this album.
Jamie Lidell - Jim
Give this album a listen and you will know what I'm sayin’.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Seriously…even when you feel like you've given it all; just means you need to give more.
Prove to yourself what you love and what it is you want out of life.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Susan Tedeschi - It Hurt So Bad
That’s my jam.
Thank you - and I look forward to visiting London in a few weeks.
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