The Soul Violinist
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The Soul Violinist

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
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"Essence Fesival 2013 Family Day"

At a time when music festivals are growing in number and popularity, the annual celebration of black music, art and culture that takes over New Orleans each Fourth of July has dropped the music from its name.

Essence Music Festival is simply Essence Festival this year. Now in its nineteenth year, the annual festival is pushing to separate itself from a growing pack of music-focused events around the country by placing greater emphasis on its other offerings.

“We really wanted to focus on the Essence brand and not so much on the music because it’s so much more than just the music,” Joy Collins, general manager of Essence Communications said.

“We really can’t have a gathering or festival experience without really bringing what makes the brand come to life.”

Essence has doubled down on events rooted in the key pillars of Essence magazine: culture, community, health, career, fashion, beauty and relationships, Collins said.

MSNBC will broadcast live from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for four hours this weekend. New Orleans resident Melissa Harris-Perry will host her regular morning television show from the festival Saturday and Sunday. The topic will be poverty in New Orleans and beyond, a subject Essence magazine tackles in its own pages.

“We want to equip people with what they need for their everyday lives and so that they can bring those solutions back to their communities,” Collins said. “That’s really what you see across the four days and it’s important for us that that content, those conversations that our editors bring to life can be accessible to the general public.”

Essence has long billed itself as a “party with a purpose,” because its nights of concerts are preceded each day with educational seminars and events. But Collins wants the annual event to expand its purpose in coming years, trying to reach out to families looking to find workable solutions to problems such as violence plaguing their communities.

Essence Festival has partnered with NOLA For Life, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s murder-reduction strategy, for a special seminar on reducing the murder rate nationwide. The mayor is scheduled to moderate a panel on gun violence Saturday with Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Thursday’s kickoff to the weekend of events featured seminars on violence and gave special attention to family.

“The focus around families has to remain something that’s core to the festival experience each year,” Collins said. “I think we’ll find ways to really highlight that and showcase that as we move forward toward our twentieth anniversary.”

Positioning itself as more than a music festival may become more important in coming years as the festival faces new competition for attendance.

Television network BET, for instance, hosted its inaugural BET Live festival in Los Angeles this year. Like Essence, the event featured nights of concerts and days of panels.

Beyoncé and New Edition, who will perform at Essence Festival, also performed at that event, which culminated with the BET Awards last Sunday night.

“The family focus is critical to our festival,” Collins said. “In fact, it’s one of the things that differentiates Essence Festival from any of the other festivals you’ll find. There’s a focus on family and a focus on empowerment.” - AP


"Essence Fesival 2013 Family Day"

At a time when music festivals are growing in number and popularity, the annual celebration of black music, art and culture that takes over New Orleans each Fourth of July has dropped the music from its name.

Essence Music Festival is simply Essence Festival this year. Now in its nineteenth year, the annual festival is pushing to separate itself from a growing pack of music-focused events around the country by placing greater emphasis on its other offerings.

“We really wanted to focus on the Essence brand and not so much on the music because it’s so much more than just the music,” Joy Collins, general manager of Essence Communications said.

“We really can’t have a gathering or festival experience without really bringing what makes the brand come to life.”

Essence has doubled down on events rooted in the key pillars of Essence magazine: culture, community, health, career, fashion, beauty and relationships, Collins said.

MSNBC will broadcast live from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for four hours this weekend. New Orleans resident Melissa Harris-Perry will host her regular morning television show from the festival Saturday and Sunday. The topic will be poverty in New Orleans and beyond, a subject Essence magazine tackles in its own pages.

“We want to equip people with what they need for their everyday lives and so that they can bring those solutions back to their communities,” Collins said. “That’s really what you see across the four days and it’s important for us that that content, those conversations that our editors bring to life can be accessible to the general public.”

Essence has long billed itself as a “party with a purpose,” because its nights of concerts are preceded each day with educational seminars and events. But Collins wants the annual event to expand its purpose in coming years, trying to reach out to families looking to find workable solutions to problems such as violence plaguing their communities.

Essence Festival has partnered with NOLA For Life, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s murder-reduction strategy, for a special seminar on reducing the murder rate nationwide. The mayor is scheduled to moderate a panel on gun violence Saturday with Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Thursday’s kickoff to the weekend of events featured seminars on violence and gave special attention to family.

“The focus around families has to remain something that’s core to the festival experience each year,” Collins said. “I think we’ll find ways to really highlight that and showcase that as we move forward toward our twentieth anniversary.”

Positioning itself as more than a music festival may become more important in coming years as the festival faces new competition for attendance.

Television network BET, for instance, hosted its inaugural BET Live festival in Los Angeles this year. Like Essence, the event featured nights of concerts and days of panels.

Beyoncé and New Edition, who will perform at Essence Festival, also performed at that event, which culminated with the BET Awards last Sunday night.

“The family focus is critical to our festival,” Collins said. “In fact, it’s one of the things that differentiates Essence Festival from any of the other festivals you’ll find. There’s a focus on family and a focus on empowerment.” - AP


"Verses and Flow"

Season Premiere of Verses and Flow with Violinist Lee England Jr - TV One


Discography

Cover Art Spring 2014

Photos

Bio

LEE ENGLAND, JR.

“…I want to do that…”

The very words that first grader Lee England, Jr. uttered to his mother and father while attending a
musical exhibition at his local elementary school in his hometown, Waukegan, Illinois. Lee, the third
oldest of 4 siblings was immediately drawn to the violin the first time that he saw a musician playing
it. His mother, a career educator and his father, a Vietnam Veteran, took serious heed to his
demands; made arrangements immediately with the faculty at his school to borrow a violin so that
he can begin what has turned out to be a well decorated career in music.

A fluent music author, instrumentalist, performer, producer, as well as vocalist; following graduation
from Waukegan High School, he attended Southern Illinois University. Matriculating through college
and managing triple major course studies in Music Performance, Music Business, and Music
Education did not prevent Lee from mastering his art with the violin, considering that he also honed
his talents with the upright bass, guitar, piano, cello and trumpet, all of which he plays fluently. Prior
to receiving two Bachelor of Science degrees, in addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2008, an
esteemed collective of black faculty mentors at the campus founded a scholarship for Lee, in which
he was afforded the gift of lifetime, Lee’s deepest heart’s desire, a highly sought after violin
imported from Italy.

Street performing through the greater Chicago area offered Lee the larger stage that he had hoped
for. In addition to performing in local churches and community events, standout opportunities like
performing with Stevie Wonder were a sign of bigger things to come.

In 2010, an invitation to perform at an NBA All-Star Weekend birthday party for Michael Jordan
resulted in a personal introduction to his ‘Airness’, who was so impressed with the performance that
the Hall Of Famer ensured Lee that he will be treated as family of the Jordan Brand moving forward.
This chance opportunity for England, who has since been a Jordan Brand ambassador quickly led to
countless performances throughout the NBA community, including halftime and pregame
performances for the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Chicago Bulls at United Center
Arena, Michael Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena, and the Portland
Trailblazers at the Rose Garden to name a few.

Now a bi-coastal resident of Los Angeles (and Chicago), England and his team continue to
orchestrate a successfully independent career, which includes his first commercial release, “All
Request Mixtape”, and the forthcoming “Cover Art” which is scheduled to be released physically and
digitally Spring 2014, as well as an active itinerary of shows and appearances throughout the
country, including his first appearance at the 2013 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.

Heavily lauded for his penchant to perform every genre of traditional and mainstream music,
including classical, jazz, R&B, pop, rock, reggae and hip hop; Lee’s forthcoming release will be a genre
busting compilation featuring chart topping mainstream hits of today and yesterday, further
displaying his skills as one of music’s young, gifted and formidable musicians.

Lee is steadily building his legacy as a philanthropist. Through Lee’s Love Notes Foundation, his vision
is to establish a nationally recognized program that enables him to meet young, underprivileged
musical aspirants in an effort to assist them with finding and attending local music education
programs.

He’s doing it!
LeeEnglandJr.com