California Dreamin’ and Nashville Singin’!

California Dreamin’ and Nashville Singin’!

Monica Lee June 9, 2016 0

California Dreamin’ and Nashville Singin’!

My father was a career military officer for 20 years. My mother, a total creative…painter, singer, actor. Though I was born a California girl in San Francisco, during that 20 years my family moved with the Army to Georgia, Kansas, Heidelberg & Berlin Germany, Maryland and finally back to California. I was California Dreamin’ much of my life!

It was adventurous living all over the place with my siblings (2 sisters and a brother), but very difficult in terms of having to leave friends, getting to know myself, and my artistic development. It’s as if the rug got pulled out from under me constantly and I had to literally start over again and again. I was so thankful that my folks got us kids piano lessons, etc. wherever we moved. I just knew I wanted to live back in California someday and work in music. As a sophomore in high school, it happened! Dad got assigned to Ft. Ord, CA, and we moved to the sweet little town of Pacific Grove on the gorgeous Monterey Peninsula. Later, I was grateful to have been accepted to a great University in Los Angeles where I majored in music.

After graduation from college, my professional music pursuits really began. I had so many different music industry related “day” jobs while pursuing my singing/songwriting career at night. I worked for a huge talent agency, a major record label, an entertainment law firm, and a movie production company. Kind of like attending graduate school in the Music Industry!

While working at these day jobs, a good friend and I started the band, Twist of Faith. We worked our tails off promoting our music at radio, booking gigs, writing, recording and releasing two albums. This grassroots effort paid off, particularly for our 2nd album “Passage Home”, as we ended up placing several songs on various TV shows. We were fortunate to tour, play over 400 live gigs, hear ourselves on the radio, and even bring part of our band to do some concerts in Egypt on a mission trip! An amazing and exciting season of life for sure.

passage home

A few years into this time with my band, and at my third major “day” gig, I met and married Jim, the love of my life. We met at church where I was on the worship team playing keys and singing, and he was a men’s ministry and missions pastor. Jim wasn’t pursuing music but was a great musician supporter, (a fantastic scenario for me!).

After seven years in my band and transitioning from music industry jobs into teaching music for LA Unified Schools, four wonderful years of marriage flew by! We wanted to start a family and were blessed with our first pregnancy. It was then that my band naturally took a hiatus (Being pregnant and my band mate dating and getting engaged to the new drummer kind of put a cramp in band lifestyle!)

This hiatus worked out well because as fate (God) would have it….a friend at church who’d seen me sing and play piano reached out and decided to help me transition into the music industry niche of session singing. I had heard of it from other musicians, but it was still a new concept for me. Here I was seven-ish months pregnant and hired to sing on my first session, a Nike Golf Ball commercial. Trip and surreal. This was seemingly the perfect music job for someone needing to bring in some income but still wanting to be very present for their kids. Like most artist related careers, it wasn’t the steadiest of jobs, but I preferred to think of it as supplementing my higher calling!

Now springing way forward, after juggling session singing/songwriting and birthin’ two more babies over the course of thirteen years (Karissa, now 13, Micah, 11, and Shane, 8), Jim got a great new job that would relocate us to Nashville, Tennessee. Not an easy decision after establishing this career in LA as a busy mom (not to mention all three kids were getting hired frequently for TV, film and albums as well….go college fund!).

monica lee babies


We weighed a lot of how we were feeling: the realities of the cost of living in California while trying to buy a bigger house now for possibly two more children (See *interjection below), leaving our beloved family members who also resided in California, saying goodbye to the dearest of friends, leaving the ocean, the list goes on. HUGE. In a nutshell after a lot of pondering, praying and tears, we took a leap of faith and accepted the job. We moved cross-country last summer! Wow. Now in a new place, with new friends and a new group of potential colleagues to get to know and work with.

Ouch? Yes. Ouch…but also utter amazement at how we’ve adjusted and live our lives now. The kids and I are singing/writing in Nashville….and it’s a great place to be. I’m writing with folks including my Twist of Faith bandmate Lisa who also relocated here for completely different reasons! Wha??? Coincidence…..or is it?? I say when I really look at the big picture, God’s got my back and always has. He leads me where I need to be, and doesn’t abandon my talents and desires. I can support my husband and kids, and He’ll put people in my life that are birds of a feather artistically and spiritually. I am so grateful!

We still fly back to Los Angeles for some jobs, but are loving the more laid back lifestyle here. Still….having the privilege of going back every now and again keeps me on my toes, and brings me to those I love, and the industry I’m honored to be a part of. I’m California Dreamin’ but lovin’ Nashville Singing!

monica lee singing


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