You’ve Got A Different Voice

Lolly Lee credits her fifth or sixth grade chorus teacher in Tallahassee, Florida with planting the singing seed that would grow to bear fruit much later: “…[she] pulled me aside one day and she’s like, ‘You’re really good. You’ve got a “different” voice,’ and I was like ‘Huh?’” Into adolescence, Lolly was focused more on instruments, playing piano and teaching herself guitar from a Mel Bay chord book and by listening. She remembers, “Back when you only had records…I would try to figure out the chords; then all of a sudden I could play a Joni Mitchell song…”

Soon enough, Lolly was performing publicly. By way of a high school talent contest win and subsequent “talent exchange” at other schools she got her first regular gig. A boy from one of the other schools approached her and her parents about partnering up for a summer-job-style regular gig at a small downtown establishment. “He was a sweetheart and he was trustworthy, and that’s when I started playing out.”

The vehicles for Lolly’s musical journey through 1980s took the form of a number of rock bands, including her “favorite,” The Mortals, a staple at Birmingham’s Old Town Music Hall. “We were really popular because, I think we were about the only band doing original music…” After four mostly full-time years of music making, Lolly’s road turned toward family life and children.

Fast forward to the origin of Lolly’s self-titled solo debut at age 63: After navigating a very dark stretch, as her husband suffered from and succumbed to cancer, she found powerful new inspiration in his words to her: “Before he passed, he told me sincerely, ‘You’re always full of joy, and I can see that diminishing because I know all you do is take care of me.’ And he said ‘When I’m gone, please, get back out, play music and find your joy.’ And that was a real gift.”

Reconnecting with long-time friend and guitarist/producer Anthony Crawford (who has worked with Neil Young among others), helped Lolly craft an album from the many demos she had recorded. “I have Garageband and I’d recorded tons of songs [and I] sent him a lot of them.”

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