Kate Lee – bluegrass teen correspondent

Kate LeeWe have written in the past about Kate Lee, a talented young singer, fiddler and songwriter from New York. Kate has just now turned 16 and continues to impress audiences throughout the northeastern US and beyond with her poise and ability. Bluegrass Today is especially interested in the development of young grassers, and we thought it might be fun to have Kate share some of her experiences as a teen musician with our readers. She promises to send us ongoing reports as her schedule allows.

I’m Kate Lee with No Strings Attached and this is my story, or at least some of it. It is better described as a small chapter from a book being written as I navigate this world of music. I will try to keep it brief, but it will be difficult, as there are already many great stories to tell. I say already because I have only been involved in music since I was nine in Fourth Grade, about seven years. It feels much longer because there have been so many rehearsals, performances, television and radio concerts, music and music writing contests, touring and uncounted hours of individual practicing. My stories will, I hope, be interesting as they are told through the eyes and memories of a teenager.

Chapter 1 – The Holy Grail

Actually it’s more like chapter 3 or 4 (I know I always have to be different) because I am going to start my story with some fairly recent events.

My friend and first guitarist, Jack Metzger once told my dad and I, after hearing we were going to write our own songs, that original material is the “Holy Grail” within the music industry. That has proven to be the truest, most valuable statement that anyone has ever told my dad and me.

Musically, everything changed in a very positive way the day after we wrote our first song. 20 Paces was written three years ago, and in a round about way it propelled Kate Lee with No Strings Attached into the “Big Leagues.” Soon we would be opening and sharing the stage with the likes of Rhonda Vincent, Nothin’ Fancy, Jay Unger, and The Grascals, as well as meetings with Gordon Lightfoot, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, and ultimately Alison Krauss. The rest of this chapter or story will be devoted to how I got to meet and spend an evening with Ms. Alison Krauss.

In April, I traveled to Nashville with my family to play a few writers nights and visit area colleges. I was honored to play at the Bluebird Cafe and the Commodore Grill, two of Nashville’s most revered music hot spots. During the Commodore gig, I was very excited to see two producers and an A& R from a record label come out to see me perform. The excitement didn’t end there.

Minutes before I was to perform, I noticed Ms. Alison Krauss enter the room. I thought that she coincidentally came out to see the show or meet a friend, but to my amazement she waved to me to come to her table. I was shocked to find out that she came out to see me perform! She explained that she was a fan of my music and that she really liked my song, Sarah Sing.

Imagine, my favorite artist saying that she liked my music. I had dreamed of meeting her and having her sign my fiddle for years.  Now it was really happening and at my performance! She stayed for my songs and then spent the evening talking to my parents and me. She told me to keep writing and performing my own music. It was a night I will remember the rest of my life. I’m quite sure that writing and performing original songs helped make that night a reality.

I couldn’t wait to tell my friend Jack about our meeting and how true his words were. I know that I have much to learn, and hopefully with a lot of hard work my songs and my performances will grow right along with me. I’m so glad that my dad decided that we should give writing a try. It’s like they say, you just have to hold your breath and “jump in.” Now I am writing songs on my own as well as co-writing.

Lastly, I’m so happy to note that Ms. Krauss was as nice as I had envisioned her to be. Maybe she could see a bit of herself in me and remembered the days when she was just starting her career, or maybe she just wanted to make a kid’s dream come true. Either way, it was a night of inspiration for me, and I now look forward to my summer gigs more than ever.

I hope you enjoyed my story. Please check in with Bluegrass Today from time to time to follow along with me in my music journey. I have much more to see, do, and say about it all. Next time I will tell you about how I, as a young girl from Upstate New York, got into writing and performing bluegrass music, and about my latest song written about the battle between old and new bluegrass. It asks the question, “What’s your shade of blue?”

Stop out to see me at one of my shows. Bye for now!