Amos Lee: Fame is such an abstract thing

Categories: Concert Preview
Photo by Harper Lee
Amos Lee doesn't have anything to prove, but he sure does have a lot to say. The Philadelphia performer just released his fifth studio album, and is gearing up for a national tour. Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song sums up Lee and his tunes in six words. The album unveils many layers of stories, revealing a mournful voice that brings to mind a young Neil Young. Amos has toured with many established artists, including Norah Jones and Bob Dylan, but he is eager to hit the road for a headlining tour.

"There's not much of a genre to put me in," Lee says from his home in Philadelphia. "I don't even know how to define country music anymore." Before his show at the State Theatre on Monday, November 4, Lee spoke to Gimme Noise about his past and how that's influenced much of his life and music these days.  

Ten years ago saw Amos working as a second grade school teacher in an elementary school. Initially, he didn't realize how difficult the profession would be. "It was challenging," he shares. "The hours and the system were pretty hard to navigate sometimes."

Around that time, Lee started spending time with some musicians, and one thing led to another, and he left teaching behind to try to make a living as a musician while bartending on the side. He continues, "Between bartending and music, I was able to pay my bills with barely anything left over. We would get $50 here and there, and my rent was $300, and I could eat at the restaurant where I worked. I made about $400 dollars a month and was alright, so it was cool."

Amos saw the change in the music industry early on, allowing him to move with evolving landscape of the industry. Lee says, "It's necessary to be fluid in the scene right now. There's so much fluidity to so many positions that you have to really keep an eye on something you're gonna feel connected to in a way that's gonna make you stick with it through a lot of hardship, because there's a lot of hardship available." With such a saturated industry, his main goal is to connect with people through his music, and have people leave the show feeling a little bit better than when they arrived.

Even in the realm of music, Amos is not used to being in the limelight, perhaps that's why he chose to work in education before veering off into music. The singer is not often recognized when out and about -- something he bashfully admits to being grateful for. He says, "I don't know how I would handle fame, because it's such an abstract thing. For some people, that's their goal and that speaks to them, but I think I would find it pretty invasive. Although, sometimes you can't help if you're just doing what you love doing and fame comes along with it. You shouldn't have to give up something you love for the invasiveness of a lifestyle, but I think it's a choice."

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