2017 International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion Christie Lenée has been performing since the age of 4. A naturally born entertainer, she first hit the stage in Tampa, FL with a song and dance ensemble called “Entertainment Revue.” She was the youngest member of the group and a true ham, making her debut singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” for a Cincinnati Reds Banquet and the National Anthem at the MacDill Air force Base. At her first public performance, she was having so much fun engaging with the audience and bringing joy to people the young performer had to literally be pulled off the stage by other members of the performance group. Truly, some things never change!
Christie’s love for the stage has carried on throughout her life to various plays, musicals, and heartfelt performances of original songs across the world. She continued her work from age 4 to 8 with The Entertainment Revue, the youngest member of the original cast, where she performed at various events and local television on the Jack Harris show in Tampa.
In 1991 (age 6) on a Live Broadcast Interview, Christie was asked, “who is your favorite singer?” Her response was immediate to honor her favorite singer “Bonnie Raitt” who at the time had just released her single “Something to Talk About.” Little did young performer Christie know, her favorite singer Bonnie Raitt was also a guitarist and songwriter subconsciously influencing her later career.
The young prodigy began playing piano right around the same time. She was on a path to pursue a career in acting, musical theatre and television, however her love for music was growing exponentially. At age 12 she got her first guitar and thrived by playing along to Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Green Day and Nirvana Records. She refused lessons at first with fear that music would be taught academically. In fact, her piano teacher had guided her only by the books in her previous years. Instead of taking the academic route with guitar, she felt strongly about playing along to albums and learning by ear. Music became deep therapy leading to her teenage years, where the talented poet, singer and musician discovered an outlet for self expression.
Christie attended Blake High School of Performing Arts in Tampa, FL. Ironically she auditioned both for acting and guitar, was accepted into the school for both but chose acting. Only a few weeks into the school she attended her first classical guitar concert, where she heard the school Professor John Michael Parris perform the piece “Sunburst.” Christie’s experience in watching his expressive guitar performance was truly life changing. She quickly changed her major to guitar and has dedicated her life to music ever since.
Christie dove into music on a very deep level, practicing extremely difficult classical guitar pieces, technique and exercises 8 hours per day. Her studies expanded with a private teacher outside of school in addition to course routes with her Professor John Michael Parris. This led into her Junior year of High School, when the young guitarist was recognized with several Awards in Classical Guitar Competitions. She then began doubling her studies in both classical and jazz, joined the High School Jazz Band, and acquired a second private teacher for rock, jazz and blues. Thankfully Christie’s parents were very supportive of her studies and exquisite practice.
In Christie’s senior year she discovered Dave Matthews, Joni Mitchell, and the acoustic guitar. Once again, Christie’s first Dave Matthews concert was another turning point in her life. The young fan and thriving musician describes: “I was right there in the front row watching his every move. Then there was a moment when the light hit his face and the rest of the world disappeared. I saw him look out into the audience with pure gratitude and thought to myself: Wow. Imagine how it must feel to bring joy to this many people. Then in that moment of thought, he looked right at me. I burst into tears and knew more than anything I had ever known… I have to write songs.”
17 year old Christie was already performing classical guitar at weddings and private parties and making a living with music. But her energy shifted from practicing intensive classical and jazz guitar all day long to splitting her practice with her songwriting. In her first few years she had multiple people question her ability to sing, as her vocal practice had been paused throughout years of focused guitar work. She was encouraged by some to stick with the instrumental route, however, Christie felt strongly about expanding her voice and and writing lyrical music.
She attended the University of South Florida as a Jazz Guitar Performance major, then continued as a double major in Classical Music Composition.
To this day, Christie is still working hard to hone her songwriting skills, strengthen her voice as an artist, and to continue on her journey as an innovative musician and composer.
Throughout her college years Christie recorded 17 live CDs (including “Live in Taiwan”) and two home studio albums as a multi-instrumentalist and producer for the project. Then she moved into recording the album “Set It Free.” She felt that the live CDs and Home Studio Albums were trial runs, but this studio album required focused dedication to making a product she would be proud of for life. “Set It Free” would be the first album she would ever release digitally and continue to reproduce and distribute.
With such an intention, Christie spent 2.5 years recording this album “Set it Free.” This was in conjunction with some major composition projects at USF including writing string quartets, choral music and percussion ensembles. It’s no wonder why these projects translated to her singer/songwriter music at the time, leading her to add a full choir, strings, percussion and multiple layers of instrumentation on this album.
Once the album was finished, she had a 2009 CD Release Party at Skippers Tampa with a 10 piece band and 15 piece choir. While this may sound extreme to some, it was in fact the smallest ensemble she could have to perform the music from “Set it Free.”
This concert was an extraordinary accomplishment for the young musician, who decided that her time in Florida was complete and it was time to move to a bigger city. The curious songwriter then left her University Music Program 3 semesters before finishing 2 degrees. She went on to Philadelphia to be closer to New York City, embrace the city of Brotherly Love and start building a following in the Northeast region.
Christie continued to teach private and studio guitar lessons while building her following in the Northeast and frequenting the Southeast markets. After 2 years of this she began touring so much that she had to pass along all of her students to another qualified teacher, which in turn freed up her schedule to begin touring full time.
In this progression she started a new band in Philadelphia, released the raw “Acoustic Sessions” album (2010) followed by the “Give and Take In” EP (2012) Featuring Jeff Coffin from Dave Matthews Band on saxophone. It was evident that while she loved performing with a band, she would have to find a way to play as many of the parts she could as a solo artist. This allowed her to spread into bigger markets without having a large overhead of musicians to join her on tour.
Christie then added the Toe Kicker Foot Stomp box (similar to a kick drum) to her show which she began playing with the right foot, a tambourine attached to her left foot, some effects pedals and a vocal harmonizer to allow her to perform 3 part harmonies solo. She additionally began exploring the tapping style of guitar, which allowed her to play bass lines, melodies and percussive rhythms simultaneously while inviting her to think more as an orchestral composer with a solo instrument.
This tapping guitar style led Christie into writing a full collection of instrumental pieces, which were released in 2013 on her instrumental album “Chasing Infinity.” On this album she was also endorsed by “The Engle,” a drumstick for guitar, in conjunction with “Engler Innovations”. This unique company chose Christie as the hired composer to write all of the music for the launch of their product. Christie was ecstatic about this opportunity, as “The Engle” combined with her Veillette Soprano 12 String Guitar (aka “The Gryphon”) brought a unique sound to her instrumental album reminiscent of the hammered dulcimer.
*Examples include “Raining a Miracle” and “Eastward Horizon” on the “Chasing Infinity” album.
Christie’s pieces have now been showcased at the NAMM Show in Anaheim and Nashville, live on National Television and Radio, on stage with artists such as Tim Reynolds (guitarist for Dave Matthews Band), Andy McKee, Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls, and Stanley Jordan to name a few.
Her songwriting has also received recognition, first being nominated as “Best Female Songwriter” for Origivation Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards (2010, Philadelphia) and “Best Guitarist” for WSTW’s Hometown Heroes Awards (Wilmington, DE). Her album “Live at the Hideaway Cafe” was one of three finalists for “Best Album of 2014” (Indie Acoustic Project Awards), in addition to her song “Love Who You Are” being nominated for a 2016 Posi Award in the category “Songs for Personal Transformation.”
Christie signed with CPR Entertainment in May of 2016 under manager Gina Mendello for management, publicity and booking. CPR is instrumental in the careers of guitarists Tommy Emmanuel and Jesse Cook to name a few. This career leap relocated her to Nashville where she completed her new CD “STAY” and is already in process on another album.
The new release “STAY” is a collection of hopeful, inspiring songs featuring special guest Tim Reynolds (Guitarist from Dave Matthews Band) on the title track “Stay,” “Sun Shines Through” and “Journey of My Own”. The album also contains 3 instrumental pieces produced by the legendary and Multi-Grammy Award Winning Producer Will Ackerman (founder of Windham Hill Records). These glorious instrumental pieces vary, from “Soaring Over Glacier Bay” with 27 cellos and a symphonic essence, to “Sunset Rebirth” with a bamboo flute, and the simplicity of “Sweet Little Piece” on the 12 string Soprano Veillette Guitar.
The title track “Stay” shines a bright light on suicide awareness and prevention. Christie’s message is that every person is special and has something unique to contribute to this world. “I intend to translate to the listener that it’s okay to go through rough times. In those moments when you feel like running… whether it be from a job, a relationship, or running from life itself… Take a breath. Stay, and know that there is another way. You’re the only one who can be you.” – Christie Lenée
The new album “Stay” was released on October 1st 2016 and was followed by expansive touring in the US, Australia, Asia, Canada, and Europe in 2017.
Christie is poised to embrace the World with her stunning guitar work and positive, transformative songwriting. Her story continues to unfold with velocity and accomplishment!
“Christie Lenée is a wonderful spirit making beautiful music on the guitar. She has epic compositions that take one on a journey through time.”
-Tim Reynolds, Guitarist for Dave Matthews Band
“… One of the most shockingly moving interludes we’ve ever had. It was more than the fluid, neck-tapping virtuosity. She seemed to radiate joy. “
-Craig Havighurst, Music City Roots, Nashville, TN. – Full Article: http://musiccityroots.com/blog/british-invasion/
“The message in the music of Christie Lenée is crystal-clear and unambiguous. And that message is a celebration of life, love and joy. The elation in her voice, the ever-present smile on her face, her warm and embracing lyrics, her wonderful between-songs anecdotes, and her brilliant guitar playing all point directly to that message.”
– Scott Hopkins, MusicFest News
*Nominated for a Posi Award, Song “Love Who You Are” in Category “Songs for Personal Transformation”
– 2016 Posi Awards
*Nominated “Best CD of 2014” – Album “Live at Hideaway Cafe”, Indie Acoustic Project Awards
“*Voted “Best Guitarist” for WSTW 93.7 Hometown Heroes Awards*
– WSTW 93.7, Wilmington, DE
“ *Nominated “Best Female Songwriter” for Origivation Magazine’s 2010 Reader’s Choice Awards (Philadelphia, PA)”
-Origivation Magazine, Philadelphia, PA
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1: What artist would you most love to work with?
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2: What instrument brings you the most joy?
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3: What was the worst advice?
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4: What was your first concert?
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5: What/where is the best road food?
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6: What’s the best music advice you ever got?
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7: Who is your most surprising inspiration?
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