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The Road That Leads to You

I recorded my album, The Road That Leads to You, back in 2008. Life took me in many directions since then, but now I am reconnecting with my music as a greater project of soul retrieval (sounds pretty dramatic, I know, but it’s also amazingly FUN to rediscover parts of myself from this life and beyond).

Part of this process has involved digging back through email accounts and hard drives for all the pieces of my musical career (a career I tried to maintain while also being a middle school teacher, which was exhausting). I found this bio that was written around the time I released my album, and I thought I would share it here for anyone curious about the inspiration for my music and this album in particular:

A singer since childhood, Liz Lee didn’t begin writing her own music until after college. Inspired by Sarah McLachlan and her female-fronted music festival Lilith Fair, Liz had a feeling that she could be a songwriter if she learned how to play an instrument, so she grabbed her father’s guitar and answered an ad for guitar lessons. “After my first lesson, I felt absolutely reborn,” she recalls. “I had songs backed up in my mind, and I had to get them out. I practiced for hours everyday just to get to the point where I had enough chords to start writing songs.”

Liz soon found that synchronicity supported her efforts. On her way home from a guitar lesson one evening, she stopped for coffee on the campus of her alma mater, Emory University. “I met a woman who had an extra ticket to see Alice Walker speak that night. She offered me the ticket, and of course I accepted. Before the talk, Doria Roberts, a local singer-songwriter, performed a set. Midway through a song, the strangest thing happened—we had a fire drill, of all things. We had to evacuate the building, and I ended up standing a few feet from her. I decided to strike up a conversation with her and ask her advice on how to get started writing songs. She may not remember this conversation, but she really motivated me. Alice Walker was inspiring, of course, but I knew that this conversation with Doria was really what I came for.”

After writing a few songs and fumbling through open mics and coffee house performances, she began to steadily develop her songwriting style and warm stage presence. “I realized that what was more important than nailing a performance was connecting with my audience,” she reveals. “Getting applause is great, but what really matters if having people tell me later that they were really touched by a song—that they could really relate to it.”

Friends started asking Liz when she was going to start recording, so in the summer of 2002, she created a four-song demo with producer/singer/songwriter Mic Levine, setting the stage for her collaboration with some of Atlanta’s most talented musicians and songwriters. It was through Levine that she met Michael Wynne, who would eventually produce “The Road That Leads to You.” In addition, she found herself working with such talented local artists such as Matthew Kahler, Number 99, and Chip Houston.

After releasing her demo, Liz took the next several years to refine her writing style and round out her repertoire. “I also found lots of great ways to distract myself from recording an album,” she admits. “I got a master’s degree, went to yoga teacher training, lived in Spain for two years, came back to Atlanta, and eventually had nothing left to do BUT record.”

Even after seven years of songwriting, producer Michael Wynne encouraged Liz to consider co-writing a few songs to add new energy to the record. These writing sessions resulted in the title track as well as two ballads, “Listen to Me” and “All There Is.”

“I’m really excited about the ballads,” Liz admits. “They are such a departure from what I’ve been trying to do for years, but Michael’s intuition was right on. I think people will really like what they hear.”

What else can we expect from this album? Musically speaking, they cover a broad range of styles, touching on everything from the pop-influenced “Not Dreaming” to the rootsy Tennessee mountains-inspired title track “The Road That Leads to You.” Liz carefully chose each of these songs for its contribution to the overall idea of the album. “For me,” she says, “what draws these songs together—lyrically and thematically–is a journey from complication to simplicity. We make up all kinds of stories for why we can’t connect with another person, but it ultimately leads back to ourselves and our willingness to be open. These songs have been my way of working toward this realization.”

Liz expects everyone to get something different from the album. “I just want people to enjoy it. Making it was such a joyful, creative experience, and I really hope that comes across in the songs.”