When Lee Kennedy went to a Nashville writer's workshop, his goal was simply to learn to be a better writer from the best in the business. He said, “Songs are flying out of me one after another, and I feel like I just have to write.” One of the instructors was songwriter and producer Desmond Child. Child, best known for writing dozens of hit songs, like “Angel” by Aerosmith, and “Living On A Prayer'' by Bon Jovi, didn’t pull any punches with his students. Kennedy said, “There’s nothing more intimidating than sitting up there next to Desmond Child, in front of 50 other people as he’s listening to your music, and ripping it apart." Laughing, he said, “Right?” He admits, “It was humbling, but it was the greatest learning experience I have ever had.”
He said Child was, “taking these songs, and saying ‘this is a great start, but you would do better by changing the lyrics, and making it more focused.’ oh my God what an amazing experience!”
With thousands of Spotify listeners, and a profile that seems to be growing daily, Kennedy said, “I pulled five songs (off of Spotify) because I’m rewriting them.” His career, now connecting five decades, boasts a library full of great solo productions. Though his new music is in, as he calls it, “the Christian vein,” it taps into the pain, and joy of the human experience. He continued, “The music I’ve been writing now is about hope and standing up when adversity comes.” It turns out, pain and adversity is something Kennedy, from personal experience, knows about.
Like many of us, he came to a point where he wasn’t happy. With a new son, and a demanding travel schedule, something had to change. He said, “I promised myself if this ever became work I would stop. After my first son was born, and I was driving up to the Hard Rock (from Carson City) to play, and I just realized I don’t want to do this anymore.” He continued, “Life happens, and it became a drag, and I realized this was not ok.” After cutting off his rock star hair, and going back to school, he got a job in the casino industry. He said, “I went through this really bad time. I was getting divorced, and then I went through this dark period in my life.” Though he demurred from sharing many details, he did say, “It was horrifying.” Nearly 9% of American adults suffer from depression or have had depressive episodes, and as he began healing, he found himself with a new mission.
Kennedy continued, saying, “As I started to come out of it, music came back into my life. That was around 2016. I bought a guitar, started to play a little, and it just kind of came back to me. It’s like this was what I needed." Fueling his new inspiration was seeing how dark the dark could be. He said, “When Robin Williams (committed suicide) I was just floored because I could never understand it. But then it was a year later, and I was in the midst of that very thing.” Continuing, he said, “I was going through this divorce, but it was more than the divorce. I was in a massive depression, and I became suicidal. That was a scary time.” Unless you’ve lived through it, it’s hard for people to understand how anyone could contemplate taking their own life. Faced with that unthinkable choice, Kennedy confesses, “I was stunned.”
With thoughts that are both horrible, but also make sense, for depression sufferers, it can be disorienting, and terrifying. It was at that point Kennedy realized it was time for a major change. He said, “I realized I had to stand up and make it better. Everyday I had to get up and just keep going.” He understood the only person who could pull him through it was himself. He said, “It's about rising up. Since I came back to music, that’s what it has been all about.” As for the five songs he pulled down from Spotify, he is in the process of reworking them. In “The Prayer,” a meditative observation of a mother’s powerless desperation to save her son, he takes full advantage of his 2+ octave range. The song is wrapped in a determined Americana sensibility, with a touch of Spanish percussion, and is available now on his Spotify page. Coming out in the middle of June is “Hallelujah,” Promising to be an anthemic pop-rocker, it expresses gratefulness for the helping hands one needs to pull himself up. He said, “There’s so much negativity in the world, and many people are afraid about a lot of things, and I want to write music that will make them feel uplifted.