Versatility has proven to be an important asset to artists; especially those at the beginning stages of their careers.
Melissa Lee showcases her own versatility on her debut album, “Here to Get My Stuff.” There is something for everyone to enjoy, from a traditional country sound, progressive sound, bluegrass, and a few interesting covers, Melissa Lee leaves no stone unturned on her debut.
Read below to get the stories behind some of the songs on the album, Lee’s influences, what Lee has taken away from opening for national acts, and more!
Pro Country: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Melissa Lee: My parents listened to a lot of classic rock when I was growing up. Lynyrd Skynrd is my all-time favorite band.
PC: Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to make music for a living?
ML: I’ve always known this is what I want to do! There were a few months in middle school that I wanted to be a WNBA player, but I realized pretty quickly that wasn’t my calling in life (laughs).
PC: The “Here to Get My Stuff” record was partially crowd-funded. What kind of validation do you feel after so many people contribute to making your first full-length album a possibility?
ML: It’s amazing to have that kind of support! It’s very encouraging and pushes me to work hard in the studio and release the best music I can.
PC: “Mama, I Might Love Him,” is a great story song on the album. Is it awkward at all for you to delve into personal matters like the topics you covered with this song?
ML: I definitely prefer writing songs about true feelings and experiences. I started writing “Mama, I Might Love Him” when I was seventeen, so it’s really cool to hear the finished product six years later.
PC: “Willow Tree” is one of my personal favorites on the album. Can you talk about the inspiration/writing process behind that song?
ML: After I wrote “Willow Tree,” I wasn’t sure how people would react to the song, but I knew I loved it no matter what! (laughs). It’s a special song to me. I wrote the chorus, and didn’t know where to go with it, so I didn’t work on it for months. Then once I wrote the verses, I knew I wanted to write a bridge but, again, didn’t know where to go with it. My best friend got married, and her wedding was outdoors surrounded by gorgeous trees. I finished writing the bridge in my head that day.
PC: “I’m Going to Nashville” details your move to Nashville to pursue music. In the first verse, you thank your family and in the second, you thank your best friend. What did their support mean to you during that time? How scary is it to leave them all behind and move to a new city?
ML: I wrote “I’m Going to Nashville” at my mom’s house in Michigan two nights before I went to Nashville for my first time. I was so excited, and Nashville seemed like another world. I wrote that song in about thirty minutes, and when it was done, I had my little sister sing harmonies with me. We recorded it with the voice recorder on my phone and I listened to it on my trip down there.
PC: “Cups (When I’m Gone)” is an excellent take on a pretty popular/viral song. How did the idea to do a bluegrass version of “Cups” come to you?
ML: I was doing a lot of shows at that time with a duo partner. He’s a ridiculously good guitar player, so we would play that song with lots of solos. That kind of molded the structure for how we would record it.
PC: Your cover of “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” is another standout on the album. What led to the decision to include this cover on the record?
ML: “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” is a special song to me because I sang it in a Grand Ole Opry tribute show I was doing in Michigan before moving to Nashville.
PC: There are hints of a few different sounds on “Here to Get My Stuff;” ranging from traditional country to classic rock elements to bluegrass to a more progressive sound. Was it important at all for you during the writing/recording process to showcase that versatility?
ML: We actually messed with “Here to Get My Stuff” more than any song on the album to try to find the sound we were looking for. We added a drum loop, tried different instruments on the solo, added hand claps- all sorts of things! We wanted to keep a classic country feel to the song, but make it sound modern like what’s on country radio today.
PC: As a whole, what do you hope people take away from listening to the “Here to Get My Stuff” album?
ML: I hope people hear my story through the songs, and are able to relate them to their own lives. With it being my first album I recorded in Nashville, it will always be very special to me, and I hope it is to everyone else, too!
PC: You’ve opened for major artists such as Confederate Railroad, David Allan Coe, and Josh Turner, among others. What can you take away from these experiences that helps you with your own show/career as a whole?
ML: The biggest thing I’ve been able to take away from opening up for national acts is experience being on stage in front of a lot of people with just a guitar. You have to learn how to connect with the audience in a short amount of time, and when you’re up there by yourself, it can be challenging. I’ve learned to be comfortable and embrace it!
PC: Gender bias has been a hot topic in country music over the past few years. In your experience, how hard is it to be a woman in country music today? Does it almost feel like an uphill battle from the start?
ML: I think girls are really making a comeback on country radio, and supporting and encouraging each other too which is so cool.
PC: What plans do you have for the near future?
ML: My game plan is to work really hard at writing songs. There are so many musicians in Nashville trying to do the same thing, so you have to have something that sets you apart from everyone else. I really want that to be songwriting for me.
*All images courtesy of Melissa Lee and Melissa Lee Facebook Page*
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