On the title track of her debut album So Free, JoAnna Lee makes a personal declaration about following her own path that will inspire anyone who wants to brush off the naysayers and take bold, massive action towards achieving their dreams. With her soulful, dusky voice sharing the urgency of following our hearts, she sings, “The world can be cruel and cold/Don’t let it take ahold. . .What will it take for you to finally see the truth. . .the only way to be is so free, free to be who I wanna be. . .You’re the one in control/Do what’s right for your soul…”
We caught up with JoAnna Lee as she reached the final days of her gigs as part of the nationwide University-visiting Coffee House Sessions tour, and began by asking her about her recent photo showing the Beatles Museum in Liverpool…
You visited the Beatles museum yesterday in Liverpool; what was that like?
Well, we actually got a picture of the door but we didn’t get to go inside as we’d made it there fifteen minutes too late so we went over to the Cavern Club where the Beatles used to play and it was nice to be there and see the history and everything that happened when they used to play there.
You’ve been touring around the country over the last two weeks – how has that been going?
It’s been good, it’s been pretty exhausting and catching up with me a little bit, but it’s been really nice to meet so many different people and see the entire UK pretty much and all the different cities!
Have you had any personal highlights from the tour?
Liverpool is really great. It’s a pretty cool place [and] I’d love to go back there at some point and check out the city. I also really liked Bath; that was a pretty unique spot and the campus there was awesome as well. And the Camden Market was cool and unique; I liked that a lot.
You’ve been instagramming your journey from places your visited to your new shoes; will those photos be something good to look back on after the tour?
Yeah. I’m going to have to leave some of the things behind because I don’t think I’ll be able to bring everything back that I’ve bought!
You have your debut album called ‘So Free’. How would you describe it musically?
‘So Free’ has been a bit of a reflection of my younger life. I wrote a lot of the songs as I was growing up through love and relationships so it’s a bit of a reflection of who I am, and I think it’s been a great way of introducing myself to people and how I’ve grown up [and] what I’ve been through.
What’s the message behind the title of it?
I decided to title it that because of everything we went through when recording the album. It was quite the experience. We had to record it a few times to get it the way we wanted it to be and a lot of people [were] trying to change my sound and over-produce [it]. One of the songs I wrote was ‘So Free’ and it’s all about just being who you want to be and not letting people change who you are and just going for loving yourself and expressing yourself the way you wanted to. It was meant to be that I should title it that as well.
Do you have a favourite track on the album?
Definitely ‘Drinking By Myself’. It’s the most emotional song on there and something more recently that I went through with a relationship. Everytime I sing that song I can go back to how I felt, just knowing that I can overcome what I went through; I can over-come anything.
You have a new single out called ‘Drinking By Myself’ and you’ve done a video. What was that like to record?
The video was a lot of fun! I actually recorded it in Portland, Oregon. It was really nice to go around the city and capture the parts of the cities, and bridges they have there. It was pretty simple but it did take two days to record and I was pretty exhausted after that! But I think we nailed it after that.
When will the video be out?
It’s out next week, on the 10th [November].
Did your move in America change the direction of your music?
Not as much as people thought it would. They said ‘you’re moving to Austin, you’re going to be doing Texan country music”. It didn’t really impact a lot but as far as the writing goes my journey is between Oregon and Austin; you’re going to see a lot of that coming out on a lot of the songs that I’ve been writing for the next album.”
So you’re working on new material?
Yes, definitely. You should be hearing new music by next year.
Finally what are your plans for after this tour?
Relaxing! I actually have a trip coming up to Mexico. I’m looking forward to just having some down time but when I get back it’s back to work and I’ll be heading to Dubai to do a couple of shows in December!
You can find out more about JoAnna Lee at Joannaleemusic.com.