Eric Lee (musician)
Eric Lee performing in Fukuoka, Japan December 2010
|Origin||Mā‘ili, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, United States|
|Genres||Hawaiian, blues rock, country, instrumental|
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, musician, record producer|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, upright bass, electric bass, ukulele|
|Website||Eric Lee Official Site|
Eric Lee is a Hawaiian musician, singer, songwriter, and producer. His work has appeared on 28 albums, including his work with The Kanile‘a Collection, Nā Kama, The Ka‘ala Boys, and his solo album, Crossroads.
Eric Lee grew up in Mā‘ili, a small town on the Wai‘anae coast of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, known for its beaches and surf spots. Lee began his musical career at the age of 9 with his first instrument; a $15 'ukulele purchased at Woolworth’s, and went on to play ‘ukulele, piano, guitar, and electric & upright bass. He studied choral music and theory at Kamehameha Schools and later at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
After winning the 1993 Ka Hīmeni ‘Ana competition, Eric Lee recorded his first CD, Nahenahe with The Kanile‘a Collection, which included guitarist Brian Mersberg and Jay Kauka on upright bass. That recording included Lee’s first published Hawaiian composition, “Nā Nalu Ha‘i O Mā‘ili”, which was written with the assistance of Hailama Farden and dedicated to Lee’s brothers, who loved to surf the waves of Mā‘ili. It also included a guest appearance by the legendary guitarist Peter Moon. The Kanile‘a Collection traveled throughout Hawai‘i and Japan, playing for hula hālau (schools) at various hula competitions including the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, and opening concerts for Robi Kahakalau and Hapa.
Lee performed with other musical groups, traveling to Sāmoa, Hong Kong, and Japan. He worked as a part-time studio musician, composing jingles and background music for commercial vendors, providing instrumentation and background vocals for other entertainers, and assisting in the production of recordings for various artists such as Pai‘ea and Hailama Farden.
In 1998, Lee and band mate Brian Mersberg reformed as Nā Kama and released their first recording, Ke Ala Hou, which was nominated for a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Hawaiian language performance. In 2003, Nā Kama released their second recording, Come and See….Hawai‘i. With the addition of Danny Naipo on bass, they released their third recording Kamakolu in 2007, earning their first Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for excellence in Hawaiian language performance. The 2008 release of their fourth recording, E Ola Ke Ali‘i: The Nā Kama Christmas Collection – Volume 1, earned them a second Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award, this time for Christmas Album of the Year. During Lee’s 10 year association with Nā Kama, they shared the stage with many of Hawai‘i’s artists, including the Mākaha Sons, Ho‘okena, Maunalua, Natalie Ai Kamauu, and Hōkū Zuttermeister.
Lee was also a member of the popular island music group, The Ka‘ala Boys, featuring bassist Rodney Bejer, drummer Elton McKeague, and falsetto vocalist Keoki V on 'ukulele. Together, they released three studio CDs, Solid (1999), Now (2000), and No Doubt About It (2002), a Christmas single, “Reggae Christmas” (2000) and a greatest hits CD, The Best of Ka‘ala Boys (2002). The Ka‘ala Boys travelled to the continental United States, Guam, Johnston Island, and many of Hawai‘i’s neighboring islands, sharing the stage with island groups like Kāpena, Fiji, Ten Feet, Typical Hawaiians, Kanalo, and Natural Vibrations.
In June 2007, Lee released a CD single, Camp Lē‘ahi, composed for the summer program he worked at as music teacher. Lee also recorded a Japanese version of this song, for the Japanese students who attended the camp in the latter part of the summer.
In May 2009, Lee released his debut solo CD Crossroads. Lee originally released Crossroads exclusively as a digital download due to nationwide decline in CD sales. In October 2009, it was re-released as a special edition CD with three additional tracks. Lee performed all vocals and most of the instrumentation on the album. Several guest musicians were featured on Crossroads, including John Koko of the Mākaha Sons on upright acoustic bass, Bruce Shimabukuro on 'ukulele, and Kit Ebersbach on piano.
In 2010, Lee played concerts and festivals in California, Nevada, Hawai‘i, and Japan, including Las Vegas’s Lei Day Festival, the 20th Annual Prince Jonah Kūhiō Ho‘olaule‘a, and Osaka’s 2010 Hula Picnic. He also produced and appeared on Hailama Farden’s “Hawaiian Cowboy - A Tribute to Uncle Sol K. Bright”, which was nominated for a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Single of the Year.
To thank the fans and radio stations that supported him through his solo career, Lee released Hallelujah/Thunder Road in March, 2011. Hallelujah, the classic song originally written and composed by Leonard Cohen, featured Lee on lead vocals and acoustic guitar and Peter Milo on backing vocals. It was released in response to the request of fans who heard him perform it at his many shows in Waikīkī and on tour. Thunder Road was composed by Lee during one of his tours of the West Coast of the U.S.
Lee’s sophomore solo album Kawehilani was released in May, 2012 as a dedication to the life of his daughter, whom the album was named for. Kawehilani marked a return to Lee’s traditional Hawaiian roots, including seven traditional Hawaiian melodies as well as four original compositions performed entirely on acoustic instruments with the addition of the ipu and pahu (two traditional Hawaiian percussion instruments) and steel guitar. Lee was quoted in a 2012 article as saying, “Kawehilani is a personal choice to return to my Hawaiian roots because it bookmarks a very important part of my life - the life of my daughter, whom this album is named after and dedicated to. When I thought about how I would celebrate her life with this album, I chose to do it this way: if she were physically here and asked me what it is that I do, I would’ve played and sang for her a Hawaiian tune.”,
As a full-time artist, Eric performs and tours frequently, sharing the stage with many artists and traveling throughout Hawai‘i, the Mainland U.S., the Pacific Islands and Asia, especially Japan. He composes and produces music for his own recordings as well as those of others, enjoying the opportunity to support them as well as working on projects for commercial vendors. From 2008 - 2012, Lee actively supported the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Hawai‘i by performing regularly for them.
2013 marks Eric Lee's 20th year in the music industry.
2012 – Kawehilani
2011 – Hallelujah/Thunder Road
2009 – Crossroads
2008 – Camp Lē‘ahi
2008 – E Ola Ke Ali‘i: The Nā Kama Christmas Collection - Volume I
2006 – Kamakolu
2004 – Our ‘Ohana’s 2nd Christmas (Compilation Album) - “Mary’s Little Boy Child”
2003 – Come and See...Hawai‘i
2003 – Our ‘Ohana’s 1st Christmas (Compilation Album) - “Christmas in the Islands”
1998 – Ke Ala Hou
2006 – The Best of Ka‘ala Boys
2004 – Surf Edition for Japan
2002 – No Doubt About It
2000 – Irie Island Christmas (Compilation Album) - “Reggae Christmas”
2000 – Now
1999 – Solid
The Kanile‘a Collection
1994 – Nahenahe
2010 – An ‘Ukulele Christmas (Compilation Album) - “Mele Kalikimaka/Jingle Bells” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus/Jingle Bell Rock”
2010 – Troy Fernandez - Hawaiian Style ‘Ukulele 2 - “Love and Honesty/In this Life”
2010 – Hailama Farden –Hawaiian Cowboy - Hailama Farden's Tribute to Uncle Sol K. Bright
2006 – Kawika Regidor – Growing Up
2006 – Bruce Shimabukuro – Incognito - “Walk Me To The Stars”
2004 – Mālia Ka‘ai – Leo Nahenahe - “Puamana” and “‘Ohu ‘Ohu Kahakuloa”
2004 – Sheraton Resort of Hawai‘i (Compilation Album) - “Sailing” and “Pretty Girl”
2004 – Duets - Island Style (Compilation Album) - “Your Precious Love”, “Put A Little Love In Your Heart”, and “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”
2003 – Kawika Regidor - Paradise - “For Your Love”, “My Only Lover,” and “Aloha No Kawika”
2002 – Hawaiian Style 2 – Compilation Album - “Perfect Day” and “I’m a Woman”
2002 – Kawika Regidor – The First Time - “The First Time”
2002 – Norm – I Belong 2 U - “Groove Wit’cha”
1999 – Kanilau – Ke Ao Wena - “Beautiful Kahana”
- Mā‘ili History Mā‘ili Elementary (1997)
- Biography Lee, E. (2009)
- 1993 Ka Hīmeni ‘Ana Hawaii Pacific Entertainment (2010)
- Lee, E. (2009) Crossroads. Honolulu, HI: Lee Enterprises (CD Booklet)
- Berger, J. (2010, Sept. 24). Genesis of 'Polani' Enriches Enjoyment. Honolulu Star Advertiser. Retrieved from http://www.staradvertiser.com/columnists/islandmele/20100924_island_mele.html
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- Harada, W. 2003, 14 Sept. Hawaiian, Reggae CDs Keep Mood Upbeat. Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved from http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2003/Sep/14/il/il09a.html
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- Fry, K. 2007 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. Retrieved from http://www.hawaiianmusichistory.com/awards/na-hoku-hanohano-2007.htm
- Fry, K. 2009 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards retrieved from http://www.hawaiianmusichistory.com/awards/na-hoku-hanohano-2009.htm
- Harada, W. (2005 Dec. 1). Makaha Sons Present 'Gift at Hawai'i Theatre'. Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved from http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Dec/01/il/FP512010307.html
- Harada, W. (2005, June 10). Sons Talk Inner Workings of Outdoor Bash. Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved from http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Jun/10/en/en03a.html
- Berger, J. (2009, Apr. 16). Island Mele:"Crossroads". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved from http://archives.starbulletin.com/content/20090416_island_mele
- Piccoli, L. (2009, April 29). Eric Lee Releases Debut Solo Recording. Hawaiian Events. Retrieved from http://hawaiianevents.blogspot.com/2009_04_01_archive.htm
- Padgett, S. (2010 April 29). Lei Day Polynesian Event Features Food and Music. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved from http://www.lvrj.com/neon/lei-day-polynesian-event-features-food-and-music-92394449.html 2010 Las Vegas Lei Day Festival - Las Vegas Review-Journal
- Berger, J.. (2011 Apr. 18). 2011 Hoku Award Nominees Announced. Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved from http://www.honolulupulse.com/music/2011-hoku-awards-nominees-announced
- Berger, J. (2011, Apr. 28). Old is New Again on Lee Release. Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved from http://www.honolulupulse.com/tgifinprint/island-mele-rose-uses-play-to-show-his-facets
- Mossman, B. (2012, June 20). A Star Is Born - Eric Lee. Midweek. Retrieved from http://www.midweek.com/kawehilani-eric-lee/>
- Consillio, A. (2010, Sept. 25). MDA's 'Lei'd Back' Concert. MidWeek. Retrieved from http://www.midweek.com/content/columns/paina_article/mdas_leid_back_concert/