Artist Spotlight: James Lee III, Composer

Meet James Lee III, composer.

James will be in residence at Kneisel Hall from July 10-14, 2024.

1. Tell us a little bit about your early years and how you got interested in music and composing.

My father came home one day when I was 12 years old, and he told me that I would be taking piano lessons.

I ended up loving it so much, that I would complete the beginning level piano method books every week, and move on to the next level.

2. Where do you draw inspiration for your compositions?

I draw inspiration from a variety of sources, which include paintings, literature, the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation, foreign languages, Black American and Native American history, and social justice issues.

3. Who was your most influential mentor?

I think as a student at The University of Michigan, my most influential mentor was Bright Sheng, along with Michael Daugherty. After I graduated from The University of Michigan, the conductor Leonard Slatkin became a mentor to me.

4. Have you ever had writer’s block and if so, what helps you move through that?

Yes, I have had writer’s block and when that happens, I take a break for a little while, and as a person of faith, I usually pray about it and try to focus on the problem and then concentrate on other aspects of the music, such as harmony or the pacing of when certain musical events unfold.

5. What do you do in your free time?

In my free time, I like to watch European and South American soccer matches, study Hebrew (modern and biblical), take walks, and exercise at the gym.

Get to know more about James Lee III.

Preview the season.