Growing up in small town Mississippi, Lindsey Lee never doubted where her talents would take her. “It was always 100 percent Nashville,” she confirms. “I was a small town girl wanting to do big things in music.”
Big things indeed: Lee, along with co-writer Eric Paslay, penned Steven Tyler’s country single, “Love Is Your Name,” to date the only outside song recorded for Tyler’s forthcoming Big Tractor full-length release. Tyler, at the famed Bluebird CafО to perform “Jaded” with his co-writer Marti Frederiksen, was enthralled by Lee’s onstage performance of the song and wanted it for his country debut.
Lee’s original plan was to be a performing artist. Moving to Nashville, she worked as a nanny to support herself while gaining traction through her YouTube channel. After touring the world as a backup singer with Miley Cyrus she came to the realization that a career behind the scenes would be preferable to the spotlight. “Now that I’ve sung backup and written with artists and seen behind the scenes with the business side, and all the sacrifices, that life is not for me,” she confirms.
Married and a mother to a young daughter, Lee says that the songwriter’s life is more manageable, especially in Nashville. “Being a songwriter is the perfect job that fits with a baby; I am only gone three or four hours a day, three or four days a week.” When she heads of for writing sessions, her in-laws, who have just moved to Tennessee from Oregon, take care of the baby.
In a climate where some writers do multiple daily sessions, Lee limits herself to one. “Last year and the year before that I would do double sessions, with one 11 a.m. and another in the evening. That gets really old really quickly. You have to be creative, so you get burned out doing that every day. As a songwriter you need to actually live life and be inspired. I cut those sessions back so that I would have something to write about instead of just working all of the time.”
Lee has had cuts with Australian country artist Tori Darke, U.K. country band Jess and The Bandits, European pop artist DJ Antoine, pop-star Temara Melek, Disney star Katharine McNamara and Disney star/Hollywood Records artist Sabrina Carpenter, as well as placements on American Idol, Modern Family, Super Fun Night and Blackish. She also makes regular trips to Los Angeles to collaborate with pop songwriters.
Lee notes that the songwriting climate is very different on the left coast. “In Nashville, songwriting is a job––writers go to work and then they turn it off and have families. In L.A. people are writing 24/7. They’ll go in the studio at 10 a.m. and not leave until 3:00 a.m. It’s last minute and spontaneous and it’s great––I love it for a week at a time. I am more about the Nashville way where it’s a job. In L.A. it’s a lifestyle. Nashville is systematic.”
Being flexible as a songwriter, Lee says, is her greatest strength. “This isn’t meant to sound cocky, but I play piano and I consider myself a lyric and melody person. I can’t do anything on the computer, but I can take on any role in the room. If someone’s strength is melody I will do lyrics. I can be alone in the room with the track guy and write both lyrics and melody.”
Lee, now 25, has two sisters, 17 and 18. Her father, a minister of music in a church in Hattiesburg, MS, is an Elvis impersonator. Her family was always supportive of her musical ambitions, but Lee did not need much encouragement. “I was more like, ‘Nobody can stop me––I will prove you all wrong. I didn’t care about making my parents happy by going to college. My sisters are National Merit Scholars: I was the one who spread my wings.”
Now signed to publishing powerhouse Round Hill Music and a full-time songwriter with major cuts, Lee’s ambitions are paying substantial dividends. “I have a dream,” she concludes. “I go for it and I make it happen. And I don’t believe that anything is impossible.”
Contact Anna Stodart, Golightly Media
By Dan Kimpel