Karen Lee Andrews3 months ago
There was a period of time where Karen Lee Andrews stopped playing music altogether.
“I didn’t play any music, do any gigs, I completely put down my instruments and didn’t want to do anything. I was definitely disillusioned with some things and had to take the time to reflect and understand what had just happened.”
For those of you who don’t know Andrews, you might know her as Ms Murphy. She shot to fame after appearing on The Voice in 2013 and winning audiences over with her huge and smoky voice. She didn’t win but she was a finalist, and with that came a record deal, connections, fame. Something that Lee was not necessarily prepared for, or perhaps even suited to.
“Being with a label, sometimes you feel pressured, especially when there’s money involved. That feeling of needing to deliver something, almost on demand, was a little bit too much.”
When you consider Lee’s background, growing up in a strict church family where she didn’t hear pop music until she was 15, you start to understand what a massive shift that must have been.
“I worked my 20s in the church. I wasn’t networking, I wasn’t doing gigs, I didn’t know how the industry worked. So when I went on the show I went from nothing to everything. That was overwhelming to say the least. It was great, I don’t regret it...but it was a lot.”
So, she put her guitar down for a full year, and when she picked it back up it was on her own terms. She demoed the songs that became her ‘Far From Paradise’ EP and shared them with her ‘core support people’; her band members, her manager, her family. They loved it.
“I think I’ve found what I really want, the style I want to do and how I want to execute that music. I’m in a different world now, festivals, things like that. This time it’s venturing into a different demographic, a different audience who perhaps don’t watch the show, or don’t listen to commercial radio stations.”
There have been other changes. She’s dropped her stage name and has also adopted a new style she is calling Oceanic Blues. It reflects her mixed background - Polynesian Mother, New Zealander father, being born in Australia, and influences from a lot of different music. She says, “This is a collage of many cultures and many inspirations in my life”.
In many ways reverting back to her birth name seems a step towards stripping back to her roots, rediscovering her voice.
“I lost a bit from the change but I gained a lot more from it. It was always me, but it seems like this is more vulnerable I suppose, more exposed. Whereas before under a performer name it wasn’t dishonest or anything, but it was more of living up to an expectation that I didn’t feel like I was reaching. When I changed the name I felt more comfortable and confident.”
Music is officially back in Karen Lee Andrew’s life.
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