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Updated: Monday, 30 Apr 2012, 10:58 AM CDT
Published : Monday, 30 Apr 2012, 10:57 AM CDT
Lee Brice is country through and through. It’s in his voice and in the images it conjures, of "country girls and redneck boys" anticipating the night to come in the sunset glow of a Dairy Queen, as in "Sumter County", and of growing up "on the edge of a cornfield" as in the song "Picture of Me".
His voice, his sound, even his wide-open grin are as country as they come, but his view of life is much broader than that. If you ask Lee to name the artists who influenced him, he’ll answer with Garth Brooks and Hank Junior, as well as Coldplay, John Mayer, Brian McKnight, Tom Petty, 3 Doors Down, Whitney Houston, Edwin McCain, Ray Charles. Brice says what ties all of these artists together is that they're all great, which appeals to him because he says he wants to make every song he does as great as he can. He wants people to believe in his songs.
Brice takes a big step toward his dream with Picture of Me. This is music that takes you to special places, from the farms that he worked as a kid, through the dirt roads where he and his buddies would spin their wheels and race for the smiles of their girlfriends. He has a knack for making memories come alive that he sensed in the songs of his heroes.
But it took him a while to figure out who those heroes were. While most people his age across America were tuning in to MTV, Brice was growing up on gospel, as sung by his mother and her side of the family. His Aunt Henrietta played the piano, and through the singing she did with her sisters Lee built his own music on the rock of the church.
By age seven he was teaching himself the basics of piano on Aunt Henrietta’s old upright. Shortly after that he began writing songs; aside from church quartets and his father’s Alabama and Oak Ridge Boys albums, he had only his own imagination to mine for inspiration. By the time he’d entered high school, he’d assembled enough originals to perform them at the talent pageant, which he won, three years in a row.
Around that same time Lee finally became aware of other styles of music, through friends who had trouble believing he’d never heard groups like Aerosmith. There were two loves in Lee’s life at that time: music and football. His father, a star player in high school, had passed on an offer to play for Clemson in order to marry and open shop as an electrician. Lee, not having yet met the lady of his life, picked up where his father left off by enrolling at Clemson and making it onto the team, long-snapping for punts and then moving to center.
But fate changed the game plan. After playing the first game of his senior year, Lee woke up one morning unable to straighten his right arm. He had surgery and doctors had to remove a large amount of cartilage, and that was the end of that.
He could have stayed and finished his civil engineering degree, but instead, Lee resolved to chase his other dream. He’d kept playing music during his spare time at Clemson and had even spent spring break in Nashville, checking out the town and its possibilities. During that visit he met and performed some of his tunes for Doug Johnson, which prompted the well-established songwriter/producer to offer advice that, by his own admission, Lee’s family might not have appreciated.
Brice laughs at the memory of that conversation and at his decision to leave Clemson that summer and take his chances in Music City. With Johnson as his mentor, he sharpened his writing, played out at songwriter circles, and hooked up with some of the top talent in town on co-writing sessions. His partners included Bob DiPiero, Craig Wiseman, Walt Wilkins, Marv Green, and more than a dozen other heavy hitters.
When Johnson took on A&R duties at Curb, one of his first acts was to bring Brice onboard for a writing deal with Curb Music Publishing. For a year the young writer blossomed, creating songs that would be covered by a diverse group of artists, including Cowboy Crush, Keith Gattis, and, on his upcoming CD, Jason Aldean.
Powered by musicians hand-picked for the session, with Johnson bringing the same sensitivity and feel for the material that distinguished his productions for Clay Walker, John Michael Montgomery, and Hank Jr., Picture of Me alternately flows like a stream of memory or pounds like the tide along the Carolina shore. The songs represent the cream of Brice’s catalog, whittled down from more than 300 compositions. Taken together, they forecast years of success ahead for an artist who has the key bases, writing and performing, more than covered.
Lee's highest-charting single is "Love Like Crazy", the title track to his 2010 debut album. This song spent fifty-six weeks on the Hot Country Songs charts, peaking at number 3 and setting a record for the longest run in the chart's history.
Brice writes his own music and he has also co-written singles for Garth Brooks, Adam Gregory and Tim McGraw. In August 2009, Brice charted with his fourth single, "Love Like Crazy". It is the first release from his debut album of the same name,
on which he co-produced all but one track with Johnson. "Love Like Crazy" reached top 10 on the country music charts in July 2010 during its forty-sixth week on the chart, setting a record for the slowest climb into the top 10 in that chart's history. In September 2010, the song charted for a fifty-sixth week, making it the longest-charting song in the chart's history. It broke a record set by Eddy Arnold, whose 1948 single "Bouquet of Roses" spent fifty-four weeks on the same chart. The album's second single "Beautiful Every Time" was released to radio on October 25, 2010. Also in 2010, Brice co-wrote labelmate Tim McGraw's single "Still".
In late 2011, Brice released his sixth single, "A Woman Like You". This is the first release from a forthcoming second album for Curb, to be titled Hard 2 Love which was released April 24, 2012.
The 13-track album features an array of tunes, some penned by the singer and some by Nashville’s finest tunesmiths, including Billy Montana, Jerrod Niemann, Lance Miller, John Ozier, Jon Stone, Phil Barton and Eric Church. Brice, who co-wrote eight of the 13 tracks on the album, also serves as a co-producer on the project.
‘Hard 2 Love’ Track Listing:
1. ‘Hard to Love’
2. ‘A Woman Like You’
3. ‘That’s When You Know It’s Over’
4. ‘Parking Lot Party’
5. ‘Don’t Believe Everything You Think’
6. ‘I Drive Your Truck’
7. ‘See About a Girl’
8. ‘Friends We Won’t Forget’
9. ‘Life Off My Years’
10. ‘Seven Days a Thousand Times’
12. ‘That Way Again’
13. ‘One More Day’
Lee Brice’s single, “A Woman Like You,” has officially been certified Gold by the RIAA for sales of over 500,000 digital downloads. The hit single also rocketed to the #1 spot last week on both Billboard Hot Country Songs and Mediabase charts and currently resides in the Top 5 on the iTunes Country Songs chart. The heartwarming yet honest song is a man’s response to his wife’s question about where he’d be if he hadn’t met her.
Hard 2 Love promises to live up to the pre-release buzz. With powerful vocals and top drawer songs, Lee Brice has assembled a stellar collection of songs he’s invested both professionally and personally with honest, raw emotion. For more information on Lee Brice, visit www.leebrice.com