One weekday afternoon riding the A train to work, I watched a young lady and a gentleman with a speaker walk pass me. But I had no idea what was about to come next. As I sat and heard the microphone come on, I kept my music in my headphones playing, as I anticipated just getting to my destination. However, after listening to the first few minutes, I was compelled to take one ear out. I soon turned my music off all together. The vocals were smooth and the song had such a nice vibe. While this trumpet player so gracefully played in the background. My words were, “this is dope.”
After receiving her information, come to find out the young lady who was able to put on such a great performance on that moving A train was Lea (pronounced Lee’) Anderson. I had the pleasure of sitting down and interviewing Lea. We were able to talk about her experiences and what led her to the place she is today.
We met and found a great spot on the rooftop of Novatel in Times Square. There was a nice breeze, great view, and good vibes. As the vocals of Lauryn Hill and Beyoncé played in the background, we were able to have great conversation.
Below you’ll read highlights from the interview, intriguing conversation with great laughs.
Miss Jones: For those who may not know you, let’s start with you telling us a little bit about yourself.
Lea Anderson: I was born in DC, grew up in South Carolina, and now I’m in New York. I’ve been here for four years. What initially brought me here first, was musical theatre. I did musical theatre for five years across the country, and now I’m in New York pursuing a career as a recording artist. And it’s been good.
Miss Jones: Are you currently in school?
Lea Anderson: Not anymore. I graduated from the College of Charleston.
MJ: How long have you been singing?
LA: As long as I can remember. (Laughs)
MJ: Did you grow up in church singing, or was this just something that you’ve always done?
LA: I grew up in church, but I didn’t start singing in church. I started singing with the records that my dad would play in his man cave.
MJ: What role did your family play in your career?
LA: Well, my dad really introduced me to music. And my mom really helped me flourish it. Once she found out I could sing, she tried to look up any other opportunities that I could have. She started taking me to auditions, she started getting me to sing in front of her friends, so I wasn’t so nervous. And then I started going to music camp when I was 9. That’s when I learned how to sing musical theatre and opera, and reading music.
MJ: What was the music camp like, what did you learn?
LA: We would learn music; music theory, music history, voice, musical theatre, dance, everything.
MJ: Do you still dance today or are you more focused on your singing?
LA: I do dance, and it helps create more opportunities for singing. And I still do theatre as well.
MJ: Have you done any musical theatre shows in NY yet?
LA: Not as of yet in NY. I still do it regionally, I’ll leave and come back to NY. And most recently, I’ve done Smokey Joe’s Cafe.
MJ: At what point did you realize you wanted to make this your career? What was the deciding factor?
LA: I think it found me. Every other job I tried to pursue, didn’t work out. I don’t want to say I’m constantly getting fired, but it’s true. And no matter how much time I try to put in one thing, it doesn’t work out. But music is always there and it always works out. It’s like my best friend.
MJ: What are some of your biggest accomplishments so far?
LA: Finishing my EP with a Grammy nominated producer, D Moët, who’s best known for Hate Me Now (Nas featuring Puff Daddy). Becoming a member of Actors Equity Association. Which is a phenomenal unit that helps actors, singer, dancers across the country get our rights and what’s well earned of us. Lastly, being in a city where I am able to be around people that have made it, and are living the life that I want to live. Also being able to get advice from them and work with them.
MJ: Being that you still act and are pursuing musical theatre as well, are there any shows that you are interested in doing?
LA: I want to do a Rock Musical so bad! So I’m constantly looking for auditions for the opportunity to be in that, because I missed the whole American idiot boat. And there’s definitely a lot of other producers that I want to work with. I just want to continue to grow as an artist and continue giving my sound to people.
MJ: What are some of the most challenging moments you’ve had to face when trying to reach your goals?
LA: Everything seems like a challenge but after you wait it out, it’s kind of like ‘whoo, that was it?’ I feel like when it’s meant to be, when you’re meant to do something, it’s not a challenge. It’s more of, ‘how can I get through this or how can I accomplish this?’ So it’s more like a journey. There’s no problems, just patience.
MJ: I like that. It’s a great way to look at life. My next question was going to be, how did you overcome them but….(laughs)
LA: (laughs) with yoga. Yoga and church. Jesus, whoo.
MJ: Are you a Christian?
MJ: How has your relationship with God helped you coming out here four years ago alone, and pursuing your dreams?
LA: It helps me filter out my thoughts and how to trust my thoughts. Being a Christian, I know God’s words and that’s easier for me to filter out BS, all the negativity, and all the things that would just keep running in circles. I just listen to Him, and I ask Him to order my steps. And the path has been easier because I have a relationship with God.
MJ: What do you ultimately wish to accomplish with your music? Is there a message you wish to convey, is it the sound or the feel? What do you wish to accomplish?
LA: It’s my story. I feel like ultimately, that’s what artists are meant to do. Whether you’re a musician, whether you’re a painter, even a fashion designer. We’re chosen to be the voice of God, the voice of society, the voice of the youth. We were chosen to paint what’s going on in the world. And that’s my main goal, to just paint what’s going on around me and deliver it to people. So they can relate and become unified. And unites us all.
MJ: Do you have a team?
LA: No, but I do have a group of people who love me and push me in the right direction. I call them my tribe. So they’re not per say working for me, but they’re working with me.
MJ: Who are your biggest inspirations?
LA: My dad. And although I’m nothing like him, I would say Ray Charles. I feel like if you could overcome racism, being blind, poverty, drugs; and still be successful, that’s pretty commendable.
MJ: Why is you dad one of your biggest inspirations?
LA: He’s the strongest person I know. He’s had two major stokes, and he’s still alive and still positive. He stills tells me everyday, it’s great to be alive. And just knowing that I’m working towards this for him and he’s the first one to put that musical note in my heart, just thinking about him and wanting him to be proud of me really inspires me.
MJ: How long have you been singing on the train? I hear people sing on the train everyday, but there was something about you. And I said to myself, this girl has a crazy voice. Honestly, it was amazing. So what inspired you to just decide to sing on the trains?
LA: I came to a wall, I didn’t know how to get my music to anybody. Every time I applied to submit music to radio stations, they would say “30 spins for $400”. I said really? So how do I get music to people that don’t know me. So I met Kafele (trumpet player), and he said we should play the trains. And I said, that’s how I’m going to get music to the people that don’t know me. And we started six weeks ago.
MJ: Only 6 weeks? You seem so confident and comfortable, as if you’ve been doing it forever. But that’s what a real performer does.
LA: (Laughs) Thank you!
MJ: What advice would you give a young person, or anyone, who’s trying to put themselves in a position that you’re currently in and where you hope to be?
LA: It’s hard, and be yourself. No matter what, be yourself. Being a musician is not a get rich quick plan. You really have to put everything into it, and you really have to be yourself. And that’s the only way that you’ll be the artist that you’re supposed to be. Like I said before, it’s your responsibility to deliver the message from God, from society, the pain that people are going through. Just look at Marvin Gaye. That’s your responsibility, and being someone else, a cookie cutter, a carbon copy, is not what it is. It’s not being a musician.
MJ: What can we look forward to from Lea Anderson?
LA: My music video is coming out for Detatched, November 11th. I completed my EP. I don’t have a specific date for when it’ll drop, but I’m going to release it like a blogger. I’ll release a different song every period. I’ll probably release Real Love in the top of the spring. Around April or March. I also have t-shirts with the lyrics of Not That Type of Guy, available for purchase on my website.
MJ: Is there any inspiration you’d like to leave with us?
LA: Just be yourself and follow your heart. And know that you deserve everything that you’re going towards. The world is huge and you have to be comfortable with doing things that are bigger than you.
It was a pleasure talking to this lovely young lady, who not only has a great voice, but is intelligent as well. Lea has performed all around NYC. Places such as, Ella, Sylvana’s, The Highline Ballroom, SOBs, The Bitter End.
Not only is she a performing artist, but she’s also a painter. Lea sells her artwork and presents her portfolio upon request. Be sure to stay up to date with Lea by visiting her website, iamleaanderson.com, and following her on social media. Twitter: @iamleaanderson, Instagram: @iamleaanderson, facebook.com/iamleaanderson, youtube.com/musicbylyriclea, soundcloud.com/iamleaanderson. You can also download and purchase her two singles out now, Not That Type of Guy and Detached, on iTunes and Spotify. You won’t be disappointed.