Peace. I’m Nathea Lee. Behind the lens of a camera is one of my favorite places to be and I feel very fortunate to combine my passion for photography with my love of jazz. I was captivated by the music waaayyy back when I was 18 and first heard Grover Washington, Jr.’s “Mr. Magic.” I was into artists like Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan and Funkadelic and this was the first time that I recall feeling like jazz wasn’t just for “old people” like my parents. In college I began to explore the music of Horace Silver, Andy Bey, Carmen McRae, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Roy Ayres and many, many other wonderful innovators. Fast forward a few years and I began to volunteer at WPFW Radio in Washington, D.C. (my hometown), where I was exposed to an even broader spectrum of the music. I also have been fortunate to work on a number of jazz concerts and festivals over the years.
My adopted home, Philadelphia, PA has an amazing jazz scene and when I started to photograph shows here, it opened up a whole new world for me. There’s nothing quite like experiencing the spontaneous interplay of the musicians and being part of the audience getting inside the wonderful sounds they create. In my photographs, I try to convey the emotional and spiritual experience of a live concert and reflect the joy, dedication and passion that the musicians express when they play.
As someone who truly appreciates the heart that it takes to perform before a live audience, I want to evangelize a bit and encourage folks to go out and see live performances. To take it a few steps further, I decided to embark upon a live jazz journey that will take me to a different city and venue each week this year. Starting in April (Jazz Appreciation Month), I will be criss-crossing the country from sea to shining sea (and maybe even wandering across a border or two) to share with you this most American of art forms in all its diversity. Being an East Coast girl, I am partial to New York, Philly and DC, all of which have really vibrant jazz scenes, so you’ll definitely be getting some bonus posts from those cities. I’m really glad to have you come along with me on this journey and look forward to seeing where it will take us!