ABOUT RYAN LEE
Creative, versatile, charismatic and adventurous, Ryan Lee is a musical storyteller, a folky innovator, a guitar-wielding poet; the artistic offspring of Woody Guthrie, Tracy Chapman, Rufus Wainwright, Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens. He has traveled from Thailand to Honduras, from metro Minneapolis to off-the-grid Ojibwa, Wisconsin; writing, performing, teaching, creating and sharing his emotional, captivating songs of the sometimes challenging, frequently joyful, always engaging human experience. His is a friendly voice to take with you on your own life's path; invite Ryan to join you as your mentor, encourager, entertainer and friend; to weather life's ups and downs and to celebrate our undeniable, undefineable human connectedness, through song, story and artistic truth.
Ryan Lee was born and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin and has frequently pretended to be from the far groovier, nearby Madison. Raised in a Baptist family, he attended a small Christian school for 13 years with only two students in his graduating class. Following graduation (second in his class!) Ryan attended Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN, where he majored in theater and was introduced to the exciting Twin Cities music scene. A self-taught guitarist, Ryan began writing songs as a way to tell stories, express emotion and accept hidden, forbidden truths about himself. Music became his language, his tool, his salvation.
Two Thousand Seventeen finds Ryan enthusiastically engaged with several new adventures! His main focus is working as a Program Assistant with the MN MUSIC COALITION, a non-profit that is committed to connecting and supporting the fantastic independent artists of Minnesota. He is also busy with GIG 'n' GIVE, a house concert series with a focus on raising awareness and donations for various causes and charities around the Midwest. Ryan started these intimate performances as a way to remain fully engaged as a performer, while simultaneously using his talents to give back to his community. Ryan is also having a blast with SONG by NOON, a songwriting series where he connects and writes a song with a willing participant, all in the matter of a few hours. He continues to work as an actor and singer, and can be seen on stage around the Twin Cities. And, of course, there is always a new song stirring in his heart and tickling those fingertips. Ryan will release several new singles, music videos and musical collaborations throughout the year.
ABOUT THE LATEST ALBUM - always a river
Everything changed when I went to the river and I certainly saw none of it on the horizon. As I marched steadily on with my daily grind, I thought everything was just fine. Life was good. I was content, in love and happy. I believed my train was on the right tracks. After several years together, I thought I was with the right man. Creatively, I had also gotten used to my path. After four years as a solo artist and five years in a band with my brother, I thought my musical needs were being fulfilled. Recording and releasing albums, squeezing shows and touring in between waiting tables to make rent. My life was good enough. I would soon learn that my thoughts are not to be trusted. I was also about to see that my soul was crying out for a new path, and an invitation to meet my deeper, destined self was waiting for an answer.
We've all had that tumultuous chapter in our lives. That period when the roller coaster whips you around like a rag doll, leaving you numb, confused and forever changed when the ride is over. My rampant year began in the fresh spring air, which would prove to be fitting. I had been a distant friend with Tod, a working actor and creative artist, for three years, but we hadn't spent much time together. He is a talented, free-spirited, dreamer man, and I was happy to hear that we would be working together on a theater project. Every night after the show, we would go for a walk along the banks of the Mississippi. He shared his stories and mantras and I talked about my dreams of sharing my music with the world. Just two friends enjoying the glow of the city lights bouncing off the dirty water. It was during these sacred moments that my world started to shift and I didn't even know it was happening. The next thing I know, I wake up on a calm July morning and tell the man I live with that I am completely in love with someone else. That without a speck of doubt, I just know that I am supposed to be with my hippie-dippie, river-walking dreamer man, Tod. And that morning, I left the life I thought was good enough.
In an instant, my world was blown wide open. My focus shifted to optimism, honesty, creativity, boldness and adventure. My husband-to-be and I connected in a way that I never even knew I wanted. This concept of having a teammate became our most important thing. We worked on another show in the fall, and then spent the winter in Thailand, creating music and theater with kids. We spent the next spring and summer in the North Woods of Wisconsin, and after years of being a city boy, I found my love for the country life. We did The Artists Way (a twelve week creative recovery course), and I learned that my journey as an artist can be whatever I decide works best for me. I spent most of the summer outside, walking the gravel roads through the forest, or in a huge open field next to our little home. I tried my best to "be" instead of "do". I called myself a Singer/Songwriter, but had not written a single song for two years. During this magical summer, I started writing again. I took my guitar outside and played, just for fun, remembering why I ever picked it up in the first place, so many years ago. When the summer was over, I found myself with a fresh batch of songs that captured the whirlwind of a year I had just experienced. My life as a creative songwriter, singer and musician had been completely rejuvenated. We then returned to Minneapolis, where I spent the winter recording this new collection of songs, fittingly titled "always a river".
We all get stuck at some point in our lives. In a relationship, a job, a project, a city. Whatever it may be, you can be stuck and completely unaware, like I was. But I firmly believe in the balancing act that the universe always seems to have things under control. My life was good enough, but it wasn't my dream. I am so happy that things shifted and I got the chance to start over. A bold, exciting adventure was waiting for me next to the river, and I will be forever grateful.