Most people fail to realize a dream or goal is never out of reach, but Lee Wilson has never stopped dreaming and believing in his vision. He has forgone a free college education and a comfortable household on his journey to music stardom. He is an inspiration for everybody because in him we can all see our dreams and aspirations come true. We sat with Lee Wilson to discuss his budding career, today?s ?bling bling? culture, his inspiration and working with Mos Def.
Can you give us some background information on who Lee Wilson is?
Lee Wilson: Lee Wilson is a singer, songwriter, former producer, publicist; I?m wearing every hat right now. I?m just a singer who just follows his heart. I?ve been following my heart my whole life, taking chances on this dream. I?m a dreamer.
As a dreamer and artist, what did you have to forgo to pursue your career of becoming a singer?
Lee Wilson: I?m still going through it now because I haven?t made it to where I want to be exactly. I had gotten accepted to a college and I got offered a full scholarship. I decided to pack my bags with no money despite what my parents were telling me and the comfortable lifestyle I had here at home with my parents. I just packed up and moved to New York. That?s me. Yo, New York is ruff!, it was a huge struggle. And the stress of going against what is the norm and what your taught to do and going against and trying to believe that your doing the right thing. It is easy to believe when your happy and things are going up but when things are ruff that?s when the true test; like are you gonna stick with it or am I gonna go back home and be miserable doing some job I don?t want to do. I just be going through it, it is hard. I just got a place to live, for a while I didn?t have a place to live. I wasn?t eating a lot, I was just real unhealthy. It was a sacrifice.
Have your struggles been an inspiration for your songwriting?
Lee Wilson: Yea, but it should be more so than what it is but right now I?m working on a new project. It is a real singer/songwriter project, it?s me and the guitar, it is real hot. For this album, I?m diggin? into stuff? ?Believing? is the most personal I have ever gotten in a song. I?m not afraid to get deeper, it is just that I share so much.
When it does inspire me, it?s at my live show. For people who have seen my live shows, it is real emotional. It is real powerful. That is when I take out all my anger, all my stress, anything that I?m feeling I put it out on stage when I sing. I just put my all, that is where I release and am like ok. And like the energy I get back is like ok that is why I do what I do, I got to continue.
I heard in your live show, you come off the stage looking like you played a full court NBA game.
Lee Wilson: (laughter) For real I know it because I don?t dance and all that stuff. I be like damn, how am I sweating! I just be sweating because I feel it, I have so much built that people don?t even know. When I hit that stage it is my therapy.
In today?s urban culture, everything is bling bling, how do you think music fits in?
Lee Wilson: What I think it is with the whole bling bling thing, I never really been big on it. I even have a clip in my documentary where one show I had to wear these big earrings and I was so angry. The label and people who were coming to see me want a certain look and I compromised. But I just been true to myself because there are a lot of people who aren?t into the whole bling bling thing and there are a lot who can?t afford it. Like me I like how some of it looks but I can?t afford it, so I can?t do it. Then there are some people who can?t afford it but they still do it and that?s just a whole other topic. But I think I have gotten by and the same people who like the bling bling thing love my music and love what Lee Wilson does because the beats, the music or because of what I?m singing. I?m singing stuff that people can relate to, some of the stuff I sing uplifts people not in a churchy way but it uplifts people because it is real. And then I think if it sounds good and makes people move or the music feels good and it?s soulful then they just feel it. I think that the labels and a lot of TV brainwash us and make us think that everybody has to have grillz and chains and all that kind of stuff. But there are so many people that I have found when I perform or when I sell my CDs to people that don?t even care about that stuff. On my regular days you gonna catch me bummed out. (laugh) I mean bummy in a good way, it is my choice to wear jeans and a t-shirt. I?m a comfortable dude.
Who do you think that your music represents as far as the topics and sound of your songs?
Lee Wilson: My sound is so all over the place but I guess for ?Believer? it definitely represents music style wise and artist wise people who like John Mayer?India Arie and Babyface. Then songs like ?Soul Kiss? represent Mos Def because he is on the song but not just him, like that crowd?people who love Hip Hop and Soul music and people who love live instruments. Then there is a song like ? I Want To Run? which features Noztra and he is Latin and that Reggaeton?that hits a whole other fan base that I have. The whole Latin market that I have that comes out to my shows. My music is for everybody, without being forced. I?m not trying to go in there and please everybody, I meet artist who say I got to get a party joint for this, and the girl joint and the conscious joint and they ask if that?s what I do. I say nah, it is not a rude thing. I go in thinking if I like it then a I will record it. I just have been lucky that people are on the same page as me.
For your live shows do you have a full band?
Lee Wilson: I had a full band with ten band members, three back-up singers and a DJ. This past summer I was doing the whole huge thing but as of lately for this new project I got rid of all that because it was too much headache. Especially being an independent artist without having a budget or machine to help. Right now it is just me two guitar players and two back-up singers.
For your production on your forthcoming project will you be doing everything from singing to producing?
Lee Wilson: I?m not playing on there. I am writing everything of course and I am doing all the backgrounds and that kind of stuff. I?m there telling the guitar player I want this, writing with him, writing with the piano player. I?m in there calling the shots and I have always been in there calling the shots. Before I was just looking for tracks so I would be out there looking for tracks and then I would get the tracks and go in the studio and do my thing. This time I?m not looking for tracks at all, I?m just going in with my writing partner and knocking it out.
How did you hook up with Mos Def on ?Soul Kiss??
Lee Wilson: Actually we never met and how the project came together was for a demo. The song was produced by Warren Campbell who is amazing and it was actually through the manager I had at the time who had a friend at Atlantic (Records) and he was working on Trey Songz?s album. They gave me the beat and I was like nah I?m not looking to do anything right now. Then I heard the beat and just loved it and I was like I will write to it and I wrote a song to it. They loved it, everybody loved it. They were like you should you keep it for yourself but I hadn?t locked down a deal with a label yet and I wasn?t trying to rush just to get the song out. So I was like we will just sell it to Atlantic (Records) we will give it to Trey Songz for his album. But I guess Trey had a different idea in mind so we didn?t use it. Then last summer somebody at the label leaked it and it ended up being everywhere on DJ Envy, all these different places it took on a life of it?s own. So that?s how it came to be, then next think I heard Mos Def had a verse on it. To me it was a compliment? it gave me a lot of attention I needed at the time.
Right now are you independent?
Lee Wilson: I?m a free agent brother. I am the free agent winner in Vibe?s February?I just did BET 106 and Park in November. I am free a agent. A lot of things are coming to the table and right now I am taking my time working on this project. I?m just enjoying this, it is my time this year. Wherever I go is going to be the one who sees my vision, allows me to still be me and bring me to the masses the way I need to be. —— By: Interview by: Adeniyi Omisore