JAMIE LEE THURSTON…THEN AND NOW!
A now rare breed of modern entertainer who writes, sings, produces and plays lead guitar, Jamie Lee doesn't just perform music; he literally lives every word, note and riff. Sometimes mellow, often rollicking and always raw and real, he has been enthralling audiences around the world ever since he took the stage with his Dad at the age of 3.
"My music is what I am, what I want and all I can ever imagine - coming together in a studio or on a stage," says Jamie Lee. "Fortunately for me, there's an audience out there that has taken the ride all these years. It's a lucky man who gets to live in pursuit of his dreams
every day of his life."
FROM THE EARLY DAYS...
Born the youngest of three and raised in New England, Jamie Lee comes by his talent honestly. A third generation musician, Jamie Lee's father was a renowned bandleader fronting a variety of musical groups in Vermont. His grandfather and various uncles played fiddle and piano. As a teenager, Jamie Lee worked as a roadie for his Dad's band and right after high school, he graduated to play guitar.
"As a kid there were always guitars lying around the house," recalls Jamie Lee. "I used to strap one on, turn the stereo up really loud and just bang on the thing. My Dad's guitar players spent some time showing me chords and riffs and I just kind of moved on from there."
Years of playing in bars and clubs across the Northeast and Canada soon drew the attention of a wider audience. Opening for superstar country acts such as the Dixie Chicks, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Billy Currington, Travis Tritt and Charlie Daniels, Jamie Lee was bitten by the Nashville bug. For a while, he wore out the highway between Nashville and northern New England, yet it wasn't long before Music City became home for good.
...TO MUSIC CITY...
His validation was instantaneous. A 2003 collaboration with producer Gregg Brown led to a record deal with Warner Brothers, followed by another project with the legendary writer and producer Chuck Howard.
"The man's got an ear for melody and has lived the kind of life that makes his lyrics real," says Stewart Harris, who has written nine #1 hits including "No One Else on Earth" and "I'm Going To Be Somebody". Harris is among a cadre of accomplished Nashville writers who have partnered with Jamie Lee through the past decade.
A publishing deal with EMI led to songs being recorded by the likes of Trace Adkins and Montgomery Gentry. In 2009 Jamie Lee scored his first major national airplay when Rodney Atkins covered "15 Minutes," an instant hit that Jamie Lee penned with his prolific writing partner, Tony Mullins.
"It's a song that shows the same kind of thoughtful, clever hook that artists have built careers around," wrote one prominent Nashville critic. "It's got a ton of heart," wrote another.
...IT’S ABOUT THE FANS
The same can be said, after all these years, about the song's co-writer. The earnestness of his interactions - with fans, friends, family and colleagues - have earned Jamie Lee enormous respect inside and outside the music industry.
"You meet Jamie Lee and it doesn't take 15 minutes, hell it doesn't take 15 seconds, to know he's the real deal as a human being," said screenwriter and producer Tim Rhys. "The fact that he has all this talent on top of all that heart is truly special."
It's a sentiment that echoes far and wide.
"I've been in this town and seen them all come through here at one point or another," said Nashville producer Paul Scholten, owner of County Q studio. "You name it, they've been here...Tim McGraw, Randy Travis, Kenny Chesney, etc.. Jamie Lee Thurston has as much talent - and heart - as any of 'em. I'm proud to call him my friend."
That last compliment, in the end, means more to Jamie Lee Thurston than any musical accolade ever could. Now in his third decade as a solo performer with seven albums to his credit (including the last three, I Just Want to Do My Thing, Where's An Outlaw and Stayin’ Kind) he'll never stop channeling his inner outlaw musical spirits and bringing his show on the road - where there are fans, and friends, waiting at every turn.
"Johnny Cash has a quote that I like to live by," says Jamie Lee, "It goes something like this...," "The Master of Life has been good to me. He has given me strength to face past illnesses, and victory in the face of defeat. He has given me life and joy where other saw oblivion. He has given new purpose to live for, new services to render and old wounds to heal.
"Life and love go on, let the music play."