We were invited to cover and capture the first annual Lauderdale Live, earlier this month and I was more fortunate to have gained an interview with a song writer that I was a fan of on a lovely show known to the world as, American Idol. Lee DeWyze won season nine of American Idol, back in 2010 and he has come a long way since then and I was glad to get a few moments with him.
Singer and song writer, solo performer with a dream, a message and the right confidence needed to succeed in the sometimes fickle world of music and the business. A paint salesman from Illinois would eventually get a shot to change the world with his talents and music.
This fan watched that season, my sister traveling with work and I would text each other critiquing and such (you all do it!), but also always picking our favorite to win always right out of the gate. Another sister of mine that is upset because my picks are usually the sure bet and I never wager cash, I have never been a lucky gambler where funds are concerned! I was around horses since I was small and have picked the Kentucky Derby winner the last six out of seven years, that sister is not fond either!
I picked Lee to win after seeing his first performance on the show, he just had a natural grasp on being up there in front of a crowd of people. His composure and means of focusing on those maybe four minutes and making it work, I knew he had something that would keep him in this competition. Lee held an 'inner comfort' performing on that show and that is crucial in music.
Three years later, and Lee introduces as a very level headed, creatively focused and well grounded individual after surviving the whirlwind and media frenzy that can take place after being propelled into the spotlight, as close to 'overnight' as any discovered talent ever has known. After a couple releases and Idol tours, his own tour and experiencing label/contract switches Lee DeWyze speaks of knowing the inner struggle of a performing artist, when he added:
"The scariest part about it [putting your music out there into the world], is that it so easy to think that you're not good enough." -- Lee Dewyze
He mentions that you do have to love what you do in order to commit to it like anything else in life; but, in that same breath he also touches upon how rewarding it truly is to be able to work within something you are passionate about and that is a part of who you are.
Art is expressions of a soul creating it, music is art and a direct expression of the soul making it.
I did inquire as to how the media storm that can hit effected him, his focus or if this type of 'invasion' to a degree into one's life altered his initial goals for even trying out for the show. Lee mentioned that the media was definitely a huge adjustment or adaptation in his routine for a bit, but that he has a handle on things now and can honestly focus more on writing his music and to be able to shape it within more of a sense of creative freedom.
What I appreciated most about his response to this question also, was his touch upon his viewpoint that with modern technology basically the general public can serve as the media as well. Being the fact that at any live show, the Bic lighters have since been replaced with any type of hand held, recording...photo taking anything and instantly shared, plastered and 'tagged' everywhere online today, so one is smart to handle life, it's situations and your relationship with the 'media' how one sees fit.
We talked next about his latest release, titled 'Frames' which is his fourth CD released, and the third since Idol, as two were released in 2007 and the other in 2010 prior to his auditions starting for the show.
"This album feels like my first recorded efforts immediately following American Idol, but with
more 'me' coming out in the songs." -- Lee DeWyze
Lee accredits Vanguard Records for allowing him the creative license where this project was concerned. It is funny how sometimes a label or a manager can gear an artist in one direction, into almost a 'formula' to sell a ton of music to trendy fans and eventually a recording artist decides that they'd rather not fight their creative tide any longer; but rather accept it and share it with the world to see how it is absorbed or digested. That is courage within an artist and not mere chances being taken, jumping off a cliff and stating to the world: "This is really who I am."
Lee took inspiration for the writing of this album from learning how to simply 'be in the moments' of life and writing songs that allow the fans to connect with his music either via memories or being able to relate to his message in some format. He mentioned family and simply noticing in life when you are truly surrounded by those that can love you while you maybe chase a dream that you personally are meant to achieve and that is where some of the song ideas originated on 'Frames'.
Sort of like those cherished photos and memories in life, they are 'frames' of what means the most to people in life.
Touring for Lee is viewed as the adrenaline high or 'drug' and the fans experiencing the high from the live performance is what he hopes to achieve. Lee coined live performances as: "...inviting the world into his bubble" and watching him perform live it is evident that this is where Lee invites his guests.
The road and the fans are where the studio work pays off for Lee and after taking in his afternoon set it is plain to see that he is clearly on a solid creative plane and very comfortable in what he is sharing on a stage. Just like he was on a live studio sound stage weekly, until he broke through to what he is meant to do, upon the next level in his career path with only room to grow and expand both as an artist a song writer.
As far as influence are concerned he contributes mainly to Cat Stevens as his main icon among many as to how well Mr. Stevens succeeded at telling a story. Lee mentions 'Tea for the Tillerman' as the most influencing album of his career and love for music. One other favored song writer of Lee's is Paul Simon.
After taking in Lee's set on this Lauderdale stage, this fan sees a bit of the lone rebel of say an Arlo Guthrie or Johnny Cash rumbling some under the surface, so there are many avenues in which Lee DeWyze can grow as a writer and I recommend fans to tune in and keep an eye and ear out for Lee DeWyze to entertain us for quite some time to come.
Special thanks to Lee DeWyze for the time he took to speak with me, I greatly appreciate meeting those in the entertainment industry that remain true to their dream and goals. Thank you for inspiring me to do the same. Erik Stein and Lauderdale Live 2013 for this interview opportunity and a great festival in it's inaugural year.