Lee Ellen has lived all over the US, but her roots first grew down deep in Arkansas soil. Hailing from Van Buren, Arkansas, she has small town and country life in her bones. Her father bought her a karaoke machine with two gold microphones for her 16th birthday. He will tell you, “She sings with a tear in her voice.” After winning the local Crawford County Talent Contest at 17, she sang the National Anthem at local sporting events. When singing a cappella for basketball games, she would walk out to center court and people would say, “She forgot her microphone!” They soon realized she did not need a microphone.
Having never been in the school choir growing up, a friend taught her how to sing “O Mio Babino Caro” for her college scholarship audition. She received a vocal scholarship to Drury University in Springfield, MO. She was awarded the Drury Opera Award for her performance in the school’s production. During her studies in Music Therapy, she learned a bit about songwriting. She also won first place at the college’s Amateur Night, which marked her first time to accompany herself on the guitar while singing publicly.
After college, she began playing gigs around Springfield and secured the “Runner Up” mention for best female singer in 417 Magazine two consecutive years. In 2010 she released her EP Threshold, which made it onto the Top iTunes Folk charts. She has also had song placements in a few films while living in Los Angeles.
Lee Ellen has a memorable voice. Take the smooth jazz vocals of Eva Cassidy, the folky storytelling of Patty Griffin, topped off with the soul and sass of Etta James and…..swirl. Many in the audiences have commented after a live show that as much as they love her songs, it’s also the stories she tells in between that make the experience. She writes from life. She sings with her heart attached to each note. She will be the first to tell you her goal is not a perfect performance. Her goal is always to offer up a genuine expression that allows everyone present to feel a bit more comfortable in their own skin and hopefully send a surge of kindness and togetherness through the crowd.
She claims one of her most memorable moments was a show in a Los Angeles cafe and was overwhelmed to have 50 people show up to listen. The busboy caught her as she left. He reached out his hand and she took it as he said, “Thank you. You paid my rent tonight.” She got paid nothing for that gig, but she says, “It was a great reminder that none of this is about me. I sent out an invite, printed some flyers, and showed up to play a few songs. But collectively a whole bunch of us came together and somehow that translated into something greater. That’s why I do this.”
After a few adventurous geographical moves collecting many stories to tell, Lee Ellen now resides in Nashville. She is recording her first full length album, and planning her first tour.