Before releasing her original tunes, Toronto singer-songwriter Blair Lee was a classically trained pianist and attended audio production school. Her tracks sound about as crisp and clean as you might expect, especially when linking up with a producer like ModMaxx, who some of her city’s biggest artists have looked to as well. With a wispy and graceful vocal touch and some clear inspiration from the 90s – she names The National and Imogen Heap as some of her biggest inspirations – Lee offers a more personal spin on choruses that feel stadium-sized.
What was your first live music experience?
Performing at piano recitals when I was a kid. My first concert was Simple Plan.
When did you realize you wanted to be a performer?
When I was younger I wanted to be a singer, probably because of the Lizzy McGuire movie. I was always inspired by beautiful voices and lyrics. A voice can be so powerful and true. As I got older, my dream was to make music of my own and to be able to share it in some way.
Who are some of your biggest female-identifying inspirations?
Imogen Heap, Phoebe Bridgers, St Vincent, Joni Mitchell, Chantal Kreviazuk — anyone who writes their own words and music.
What are your memories of the Women & Songs compilation series?
I have very warm memories of listening to them with my mom and sister. We had quite a few of the CDs. My mom always likes the song “Video” by India Arie. She was big on teaching us to be ourselves, and I think that’s the message that spoke to her in that song.
Why did you choose the song you covered for this project?
It was tough to choose because there are so many songs I love on these CDs! But, “Torn” happens to be one that I’d been playing and singing a lot in recent months, so I felt it was the one. I fell in love with the song when I was younger after hearing it on the radio in the car. At that time, I didn’t have the song on a CD yet, so catching it on the radio was precious. My favourite part comes at the end when the electric guitar slides back and forth in a drawn out melody. I interpret the lyrics so differently now that I’m older, but I remember being intrigued by them as a kid.