When I was 17 I was worrying about passing my driving test and making it on time to volleyball and band practice, not touring and opening up for notable musicians like Pat Benatar and Marc Cohn. But, this is the case for Chelsea Lee, who mixes high school and performing up and down the East Coast like a pro, selling out shows at Virginia's Jammin' Java. Pretty impressive for someone in her senior year of high school.
I first came across Chelsea Lee when I caught her performance last month at the Canal Room right before Luke Brindley's set. Her voice really blew me away and the fact that she's just 17 is unfathomable. Lee's performance and songs are that of someone well beyond her years.
Her relaxed singing style recalls Colbie Caillat; full of emotion complete with captivating storytelling throughout her lyrics. She's even been compared to Mary Chapin Carpenter and Natalie Merchant.
On "Long Way Down" — a ballad many can relate to — Lee sings, "It's hard to fit in when they don't understand/So much behind these eyes/I can't pretend that I'm not who I am/A reflection I don't recognize." With soft vocals and strong guitar and piano accompaniment she captures the listener's attention wholeheartedly. She then continues, "I lay on the roof and lose count of the stars/I find myself drifting away/And it's a long way down/And it's going to hurt til I hit the ground/There'll be a lot of mistakes/That I'll try not to make/On the long way down."
For more of a feel, listen to "Long Way Down" here.
Lee has received rave reviews from the press and fans alike. Buzz McClain of The Washington Post describes Lee best. "She sings. It's what she does. Chelsea Lee sings like she means it, with a voice that services the emotion of the song. It’s a voice that carries joy and pain into the heart of the listener, with unbridled passion that borders on obsession," he writes.
"So Far," another stand-up track, plays with the listener's heartstrings as she sings, "Why you got to go so far/Why you got to keep me up here wonderin' where you are/Why you got to go so far/I'd forget you if I could/And I'm doing pretty good."
"Fly Me Home" has words of life realization while much of her music has that timeless quality that every artist hopes to achieve. The more I listen to Chelsea, the more impressed I am of her music. An artist that shows much promise, check her out for yourself on MySpace and download a copy of her album on iTunes. Be sure to watch her video for "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" below and if you like what you see, check out her YouTube page as well.