Gabrielle Tee
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Gabrielle Tee

Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Band Folk Acoustic


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"Conservatory student releases debut album"

Gabrielle Tee could have been an athlete like the majority of her family. Fate had other plans for her.

Instead, she's a well-rounded singer, songwriter and musician, whose talents include the guitar, piano, violin and percussion.

And she's releasing her first album, Try Me, this week.

Tee is a senior at the UMKC Conservatory. Her major is Music Therapy, and she proudly displays her passion for it in a tattoo on the top of her foot.

She also teaches out of her own home-based studio, giving lessons to younger music students in piano, guitar and voice.

Tee plans to take six months off after she graduates in May and tour with her album, as well as new material.

"You only get one chance to be 21, so why not?" Tee said with a smile.

Her debut album also features Mike Judge (drums) and fellow UMKC Conservatory student Jamie Searle (bass and secondary guitar).

"(The title track) envelops and embodies the whole concept of the CD," Tee said. "It's just about being entirely accepting of yourself and other people … despite your rough edges and your little mishaps and quirks."

Tee believes everyone genuinely wants a chance to be themself.

Despite most of her family being athletes, (and being named after a tennis player), Tee was more drawn to music.

"We had this kind of nasty, old bar piano at our house, and it happened to be in my room growing up," Tee said. "No one played it and there was nowhere else to put it."

Instead of the natural child's inclination to pound on anything, Tee was "more cautious with it." She would touch the keys lightly.

She was five when she asked to be enrolled in piano lessons; she was around 13 when she taught herself to play guitar.

This was also when she lost interest in classical music.

"I stole my brother's Ben Folds Five CD, and it was like, wow!" Tee said. "The piano can do a lot more than just play Beethoven sonatas."

A year later, she saw Ben Folds Five in concert. It inspired her to start writing her own music, she said.

She also started performing five nights a week at a jazz restaurant in her home state of Iowa.

Though Ben Folds is her biggest influence, she is also compared to newer pianists like Regina Spektor and Ingrid Michealson, she said.

"I'm going for piano pop jazz or jazz piano pop," Tee said with a laugh. "I'm trying to figure out which way to order those words."

Try Me starts off very upbeat, but "mellows out" toward the end.

"I think the most honest and exposed song is 'Letters to the Next'," Tee said. "It's the only just guitar and voice (song) on the record."

The song is about her acceptance of letting go of a past relationship.

"I always feel very personally moved when I perform it," she said.

Though relationships are a theme of the album, Tee focuses more on specific feelings and moments.

"I'd like to think there's a little different spin to all of them," Tee said. "It's not just an 'I love you' or 'I hate you' song."

Tee wants the message to be more about "the resilience to push through, no matter what."

Her album release party is at 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 at Californos in Westport.

Ten percent of her albums sales will go to E.Q.U.A.L, an LGBT organization that helps high school students form gay-straight alliances.

"This whole promoting myself thing is strange," Tee said. "It's kind of unreal. I've been playing forever, and to actually have this come into full realization, it's just beyond words of excitement."

But she's also nervous about releasing her album.

"It's kind of like letting somebody read your diary," Tee said. "And hopefully it's an interesting and entertaining diary (to other people)."

To listen to or buy her album, visit her Web site, - UNews

"Gabrielle Tee- Try me"

Gabrielle Tee, a senior at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, released her debut album, Try Me, last week. And based on this album alone, 21-year-old Tee is bound to have a successful music career ahead of her.

The first track, "Chasing Tails," provides a strong opening for the album.

The structure is complex with a lot of timing changes, but the different sounds flow nicely together. Each part is equally catchy and upbeat.

There's an obvious Ben Folds influence in the chorus. But it wouldn't be fair to limit Tee to a particular sound - she switches it up often throughout the entire album.

The title track, which comes next, is beautiful in its simplicity.

Tee has a soft, honey-like voice to accompany the predominately piano-led track (I can see why she's been compared to Regina Spektor - minus the accent).

And she's brilliant with effortless lyrics that read like a private love letter: "You must be dizzy/I've run you in circles/But when you find your balance/I think I'd be worth it."

But not all of her songs are as sweet as "Try Me."

Her blues and jazz influence really comes through in tracks like "Letting Me Go," "Disconnected" and "In the Morning."

You can imagine watching (and listening to) Tee sing in a dark, smoky lounge.

She definitely has some sass - and she's not afraid to show it.

"You Have Me" is similar to the title track as far as the voice and piano base. But it has a more vulnerable sound. It also contains one of my personal favorite lines from the album: "You have me from every angle."

"Letters to the Next" is another vulnerable track. Tee has nothing to hide behind except a simple, quiet guitar. But she holds nothing back as she sings to the girl who will take her place with her former boyfriend.

It's no surprise Tee feels "personally moved" when she performs this song - recalling such details of a person only comes from closeness.

But the album ends on a high note.

"Emily Dickinson" is a genuinely fun track, complete with hand-claps and quick-witted lyrics: "I could make you promises/But I probably wouldn't keep a single one/So instead, I'll stay in on a Friday night/And write a simple little song/Dadada …"

The best part of Tee's music is her willingness to be open and honest with every emotion. With each track, you get to know her more personally. And each song is easily relatable.

Try Me is beyond impressive.

And if you don't give Tee a try, you'll be missing out.


© Copyright 2009 The University News

- UNews


"Try Me" debut full-length album, 12 tracks.



In a world full of singer-songwriters, Gabrielle Tee brings something different to the table. Her voice is inviting and conversational. Her piano and guitar skills are top-notch, her lyrics are painfully honest, like ripping a page out of her diary, while also incorporating elements of imagery and humor. She brings youthful enthusiasm and spirit to every track and every performance.

Growing up in the 90's, she became immersed in the talents of Ben Folds and Fiona Apple, and was inspired to step outside of her classical piano training. She formed a band and started creating and writing her own songs at 16. She spent nearly every spare minute in small-town Iowa at the piano, dreaming of a bigger stage beyond her pet fish, Herbie.

At 22, she has written, recorded, and produced, and (emptied her savings account) for her first full-length debut album, "Try Me." Gigging out nearly every weekend in Kansas City, she has performed at coffee shops, bars, restaurants and the Crossroads Music Festival. She is committed to finding her niche in the music world, and dreams of being that song stuck in your ears and the voice that touches your heart.

Combining elements of jazz, pop, and folk, her eclectic style offers a little something for everyone. With a strong voice and ear for melodies, her songs will be stick with you long after the final key is struck.