By Ron Wynn
Xandra Lee embodies a new artistic vision for contemporary Nashville vocalists, an engaging mix of vintage influences and modern production techniques and musical elements. Gifted with a powerful, rangy and highly expressive mezzo soprano voice, Lee has both a strong natural sound and polished performance ethic that reflects her longtime involvement in the arts world, despite still being quite young.
Lee has been a Music City resident for over five years now, but was born in Arizona and started her career as a dancer. She calls herself “an old soul in a young person’s body,” something that’s evident when she talks about her idols.
“I love jazz, and especially Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald,” Lee said during a recent interview. “I’m also a big fan of Judy Garland, and I loved the way Eartha Kitt sounded and her movements. As far as contemporary people, Rihanna, Alicia Keyes, and Christina Aguilera. I describe my sound as “urban pop.” I have a soulful sound, and have definitely heard and loved hip-hop, and blend that in with jazz and soul music.”
Lee released the EP “Mothership” last March, and in November issued the single “Suitors.” She already had impressive credentials when she moved to Nashville, having graduated with a degree in Vocal Performance from Columbia College in Chicago, and also excelling in a variety of idioms as a singer. Lee also appeared at Buddy Guy’s famous Chicago club and the Chicago Theatre with her Gospel Repertory Ensemble.
But while staying busy locally with various sessions and recording dates, Lee’s also very active in the community. She works with 100 Black Men of Nashville when not doing gigs, and is also a student now at Belmont University in their music program, where she made the Dean’s List this past semester.
“I really feel like Nashville is the ideal place for me,” Lee concluded. “There are a lot of wonderful things happening here now, and people are discovering how much talent is here in all musical styles. It’s certainly a good time to be here and I really look forward to doing a lot of great things in the years ahead.”
(Xandra Lee’s current single “Suitors” and her EP “Mothership” are both available on a variety of online platforms).