This is an interview I did in 2017 with Big Island musician Amy Lee. It’s part of a bonus reel from the documentary “Livin’ On a Rock.” The interview was conducted at the Hilo Burger Joint so you’ll hear some background noice during our conversation.
Amy Lee was born in North Adams, Massachusetts but left the New England cold to study music at the University of Miami. She became a fulltime Southerner residing in Atlanta, immersing herself into the city’s budding music scene. A multitalented sax player, studio musician, composer and arranger, Amy has worked extensively with Charles Neville and Jimmy Buffett, and played as well with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell to name a few.
Her debut indie CD Inside the Outside showcased her diverse musical talents as a player and writer. The album brings the listener into the realms of Amy’s writing styles and playing, featuring songs ranging from contemporary and straight-ahead jazz to R&B. Her soulful “voice” is interspersed with her unique soloing and writing styles. “I’m somewhat of a chameleon, catering to the different styles of songs I write. I have so much music in me! If I write a modal straight ahead tune, I play in that style, like something Wayne Shorter might play. If I write a funk pop tune I play for that style. I love artists Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross so I write R&B tunes with them in mind.”
Her sound is unlike any other’s — she has her own sound, her own voice and identity. She is not a copycat soloist. Pop, R&B, soul and jazz were all musical influences on Amy, who grew up in a household filled with the radio playing all day long. “When I was a child, my mom didn’t have the TV on. She played the radio. Both of my parents aren’t musicians themselves but they wanted their children to learn an instrument and this was possible thanks to the music programs available in public schools.” Amy started playing sax at age 10. She went through the music system playing in concert band, jazz band and marching band through high school. She became a professional musician at age 16, joining the local musician’s union and playing in big bands in North Adams. She won various district and state competitions through the school system.
Visit Amy’s website for more info.