Written By: Niki Jones of Houston TREND
At the age of 23, R&B singer, Lee-Lonn has worked with many Houston hip-hop elites, like Grammy award winner, Chamillionaire, on songs such as “On My Way”, a track off Chamillionaire’s Ammunition EP released last spring and a remake of Melanie Fiona’s “4am”, where Lee-Lonn shows off his high pitch vocal range on the chorus. You may have heard him on Paul Wall’s “She Know It” off his No Sleep Til Houston mixtape and a host of other rappers. Versatile with his voice, with an energetic composition Lee-Lonn is definitely a fresh take on R&B.
Realizing he wanted to sing at a very young age, wherever Lee-Lonn could sing he would. “I always knew I wanted to do something musically. I was in every choir from church to school from Kindergarten all the way up, so I always knew I wanted to do music. At first, I thought I was a little rapper. Then I started to realize I actually like the music more itself other than rapping. After that I just sang,” says Lee-Lonn. The second to oldest, Lee-Lonn is the only one of his other seven siblings, to sing and states that his father was a huge influence on his appreciation and gravitation towards music. “It was like everything involved music when I was coming up as a child, cleaning up, going places. Every time I would go out with my dad, there was always some kind of musical conversation coming from him as a person. That kind of rubbed off on me.”
Music would orchestrate an avenue for Lee-Lonn to nurture his confidence and interpersonal skills, detaching himself from internal solitude to blossom into an undeniable talent. “My first talent show was in high school my sophomore year. I performed Ordinary People by John Legend and the response that I got from everybody was confirmation. I realized it was time to stop being nervous to go on stage and perform or talk to people I didn’t know. I feel like being shy can make you less confident if you stay shy for too long. It was all a growing process for me.”
With a new found spur of confidence, Lee-Lonn would continue his singing throughout high school. Once he got to the University of Houston. He would use college as a platform to expound upon and his fellow peers would serve as an audience. He would attend numerous talents shows and events to get his name out. “I just came to get the people. Every event that you could think of in college, I was at. From talent shows to satellite shows, I was at everything. From then on I kind of put myself in a boot camp to see how many shows I could do a week, like a tour,” says Lee-Lonn.
Soft spoken and outgoing Lee-Lonn’s break out song came in 2011, entitled “Maybe,” off his introductory EP, I am the Pre-Lonn. The song was an instant hit around the city and it was “Maybe” that he would sing at a 97.9 The Box audition, to win a chance to go on BET’s 106 and Park and perform on Wild out Wednesday. “I made it to the audition. When I went up there, I didn’t get any negative critiques; I received nothing but compliments. A month later, I got an email saying that I was going to 106 and park and the rest is history. It was a fun experience. I was too live. I got on the stage and just had fun the whole time. Nothing could stop me. If I tripped and fell I was just going to roll into the crowd and start singing through the crowd.” And even though he didn’t win the competition it was a blessing in disguise for Lee-Lonn. “At the end of the day I feel like the people that work the hardest and are more persistent, are the ones that are going to make it to the top. I didn’t win that show for a reason, God does everything for a reason. I say to myself what if I would have won the show, got a record deal and wasn’t ready for it?”
Lee-Lonn’s persistence to be a rare breed, is what makes the art of his music impeccable and unique. “You can tell that I put more than just the same formula in my music than every other R&B singer would into a song. The first song I ever put out was with me beat boxing. It was all made from the mouth and if that’s not different, I don’t know what is.” He describes his music as “The soundtrack to my struggle. It ranges from heartache to heartbreak, life issues and things that I go through health wise. When you hear the specific stories they’re maybe 95% true, so it’s not just entertainment. I follow my gut, whatever I feel like I love. Those songs end up coming out to be the best,” explains Lee-Lonn.
Being from a hip-hop dominated city, Lee-Lonn knew that his networking style would have to be altered in order to receive the recognition that he deserved and where there’s a will, there’s a way to find a source to dominate. “I said to myself, if there is no R&B scene, then why not make one by doing a lot of hooks on rap songs. If I know that people are listening to rappers, I would get on a song with whoever is hot and that’s how I got myself out there.”
Lee-Lonn’s EP, I am the Pre-Lonn, allowed him to service his growing fan base while getting his feet wet with experimenting with his style and sound and he admits that for his next project his focus will be more on the music itself.
With Pre-Lonn it was more of me trying to put everything together to where it sounded good because it was my first time learning all the fundamentals, so this next project will be more focused on getting to the point of the music. He also adds, “For the most part, I’m a very patient person, but right now I’ve been feeling very anxious to get the next project out. I still don’t feel like I’m at that point where I’m ready to sign a deal though. I feel like there is so much more for me to learn and I don’t know when that comfort zone is going to come. I want to make sure my foundation is set.
Lee-Lonn’s charismatic demeanor, boyish smile and melodious flow, is guaranteed to bring a new element to resuscitate R&B. What’s next for Lee-Lonn? “Just performing at bigger venues, making more music, putting out solid projects and to just keep going. Its kind a blessing to see that people are following all of the progress I’m making now.”