Racking up more than 73 thousand followers on her TikTok page – where she continues to post covers – and even earning a shoutout from Taylor Swift after covering one of her tracks, Kaleah Lee‘s indie folk soundscapes, calming energy, and spectacular voice have already landed her some premium Spotify playlist placements and a collaboration with tastemaker collective Lyrical Lemonade despite only having officially released three singles.
What was your first live music experience?
It was either the Jonas Brothers or Rihanna. I can’t remember which was first, but it must’ve been 2008 or 2009, and I went to both with my mom and sister. Those are two very different vibes but I think either one is pretty iconic for a first live show experience! I can also remember my first live music experience as a performer which was at a coffee shop open mic. It was a bit over a year ago, there were less than 10 people watching. I was shaking and terrified and may or may not have cried after because I thought I sucked! (laughs)
When did you realize you wanted to be a performer?
This is funny because I think I struggle a bit with seeing myself as a performer, at least right now, and I know that it’s something that’ll come with time. But I think that idea started to sprout a little when I started doing live streams. Interacting with people and having an audience that also feels like a little family added a new layer of fulfillment and motivation to being someone who creates music. Those connections made me realize I’m not just doing this for myself, but have a very special opportunity to share pieces of myself with something a little bigger than the voice memos app on my phone.
Who are some of your biggest female-identifying inspirations?
There are so so many women I look up to. I’d say one of my first inspirations musically was, and still is, Taylor Swift. She was the reason I picked up a guitar at nine years old and plays such a significant role in why I feel that it’s possible for me to tell such personal stories through music. She knows what she’s doing! Adrianne Lenker (Big Thief) has also been a huge inspiration for me musically and lyrically lately. Also the poet Mary Oliver & her work, and my older sister Naomi who is just one of the coolest people I know and who is responsible for so much of who I am today.
What are your memories of the Women & Songs compilation series?
This might be my age showing or I’m just embarrassingly uncultured, but I literally didn’t know it existed until this project. I was very excited to dive into all of the compilations!
Why did you choose the song you covered for this project?
It’s one of my favourite songs of all time and I love Fleetwood Mac. The song and band in general remind me of my mom, who also loves their music. It’s one of the very few musical connections we have (laughs), so there’s a bit of sentimental value to it for me. Also Stevie Nicks is just absolutely unreal and magical — definitely another inspiration.