Barely seven years old, a little brown-haired boy scuffs his way to
the front of the church to find an attentive congregation awaiting him.
The soles of his leather shoes scrape the old oak floor with every
other step and echo between each pew. After climbing up on to the
wooden piano stool, he stretches out his arms and lays his fingers to
the keys. His mind tracts the steps of G major in three-quarter time
and he begins to play while his voice carries the tune throughout the
This is the first time he has performed in front of an audience and
it is, so far, the biggest thing that's ever happened to him.
"Oh how I love, Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus. Oh, how I love, Jesus, because he first loved me."
"To me," says Lee. "It was huge."
Years later, inside Nashville's Grand Old Opry, that same
brown-haired boy, now a man, greets another group anxiously waiting for
him to sing. Only now, he performs to an audience of thousands. In many
ways his life has changed through the years but one thing remains the
same. He still sings about unconditional love.
"I don't remember life without sitting at the piano," says country
music singer and songwriter, Lee Brice. "My earliest memories as a child
… at all … was crawled up on that stool at my grandma's piano and
That night of the Opry performance, Lee had just written, "More Than A
Memory." He dismissed his band and began to play solo explaining to
the crowd he had a brand new song for them to listen to and wanted their
opinion. It didn't take long for him to find out what they thought of
his songwriting abilities.
"I got a big standing ovation in the middle of the song," says Lee.
"That was a moment I will never, ever forget. That was when I knew
that song was special. Yeah, that was a memorable moment."
He has had many musical influences throughout his life that helped
him hone his craft. Growing up in Sumter, South Carolina, there was
always music playing in his house, "always gospel and things like that.
My daddy would listen to a little bit of Alabama, the Beach Boys and
some local stuff. He liked gospel quartets."
Lee grew up listening to all of it. In high school, he followed Guns
and Roses and even the newest from John Meyer. However, there were a
few others that became more of a steady significance.
"It was Hank Jr., Merle [Haggard], and Willie [Nelson], my whole life…."
It's pretty obvious that whoever, or whatever, he was listening to
has served him well. Exhibiting his incredible talent even as a child,
Lee wrote his first song around age 9. He writes nearly all of his
music now but has also come to realize there are good songs out there
for him that have been written by others as well.
"I didn't write "Love Like Crazy," but you know, I call it the 'Garth
101.' Garth [Brooks] is a great writer but he is also smart enough to
find songs like, "The Dance" and "Friends In Low Places" that he didn't
write but he knew were special songs for him. I know that I can write a
song and enjoy it. I love it and it will be part of what I do but
sometimes you just weren't the guy to write them. They are still there
and still special. They are just for you so I've done some of that, too,
recording outside songs."
"Love Like Crazy" was a Billboard's Top 10 hit for Lee. It was written by his producer, Doug Johnson, and co-writer, Tim James.
Today, Lee's life has changed a bit in contrast to that first
performance. He has a full-schedule of tour dates, concerts and
enthusiastic fans who are always waiting for him to sing.
He doesn't get home that often but appreciates it that much more when
he does. "It's everybody that supports you from family to friends….
They've been supporting me since I was a kid. Anybody who can go through
this job and do it at the level we do, really must love it. You have
to because it's not just a job.. .it's your whole life."
There's no doubt about it, with Lee's talent, he will certainly be
entertaining his fans for a long, long time. He spends many nights
traveling all around the country … for now. He hopes some day that will
change. Just this spring, he performed for five weeks straight, took
two days off and then went back out on the road again.
"It's just a love for it.. a love for music and playing. I'm so lucky to be doing this and I'm just fortunate … blessed."
Lee seems to have a special bond with his fans and those that come
out to hear him. He wants to be as good and gracious to them as he
"That is, first and foremost, of anything you do in life. I try to
be a good man and try to be a Christian man. I want to be remembered as a
writer and a singer. That's what I've been doing my whole life -
writing songs. I want people to, hopefully one day, say he gave his all
to it. Hopefully, that's how they will remember me."