Ready for the world: Detroit artist Marvin Lee brings international flavor to R&B

R&B artist Marvin Lee was not introduced to commercially popular music until he was a freshman in high school. But, he grew up listening to everything else in between: from classical and jazz to gospel, and world music. So, when you hear Japanese instrumentation and a variety of musical styles in his songs, just know that it is not by accident.

“I love being different, I don’t want to be just another R&B artist,” Lee said during a recent phone interview.  “I want to be able to reach and appeal to different cultures. It brings out the emotion in my music and sets a good mood.”

His signature style straddles the line between R&B, smooth jazz, soul, pop, rock and Japanese New Age music.

Lee is destined to capture international audiences with his music, and his production techniques and unique arrangements ensure that.

A native of Detroit’s west side, Lee and his sisters learned about different cultures from their mother, who is a trained opera singer. The music and culture of Japan really struck a chord with Lee.

“I really value the Asian mindset, their dedication, and the commitment to their craft,” said Lee, who is a big fan of Kitarō, an innovative Japanese new age artist.

Lee’s use of the Japanese stringed instrument koto on his single, “Come Back With Your Love” displays his ability to effectively incorporate an international flavor into his sound.

The “grown and sexy” lyricism in his songs is where the contemporary R&B flavor comes in and is comparable to the poetic style of other male contemporary artists such as Tyrese, Usher, and Ginuwine.

Not only does Lee possess classic R&B romanticism, but he also has the powerfully built physique to match it, along with a plethora of female fans who fawn over his strapping appearance and charming appeal.

His physically fit appearance comes from years of playing football and serving as a high school athletic trainer.

Before choosing to pursue music as a career, Lee played minor league football for five years, and has been actively involved in the sport since he was 10-years-old.

He was a wide receiver at the University of Cincinnati and had aspirations of playing in the NFL.

While in college, Lee also began writing and performing commercial music, and  took music theory lessons from  classical composer Darajus Sparkauskus. Lee performed at various events around campus and  got the opportunity to open up for hip-hop band, The Roots during a Springfest event at the school.

“I knew at some point I was going to have to choose. I was stuck in a wide junction for years,”
said Lee. “But, I was able to turn that page in my life without any regrets.”

When he did not receive a callback after trying out for the NFL, Lee began focusing more on his music.

“The negativity that I experienced in football, I’ve never experienced in my career in music. I’ve never heard any bad critiques, and that lets me know that I can do it,” said Lee.

He is currently gearing up for the release of his debut album, This is My Melody, which will be coming out this summer.

Lee says the album will reflect his diverse musical style and he will not be limiting himself to a specific genre.

While world music, smooth jazz and R&B will definitely have a strong presence on the album, you can  also expect some hip-hop, rock, and house music flavor that will further display the crossover appeal he is aiming for.

His first single, “Just Right” is a slow tempo groove that has a grown folk ambiance for adults to enjoy.

At one point, the single rose to the top of the ReverbNation local charts, and has become a fan favorite.

You could say this song along with his other romantic-inspired tracks is his homage to Marvin Gaye, who Lee deeply admires and was influenced by.

“The passion and the emotion that he conveyed, that sexual energy he displayed in his music, it inspired me to be the type of singer that I am,” said Lee.

The singer even chose his stage name in honor of the legendary R&B artist.

Lee definitely has that Marvin Gaye-sque appeal and he says he is prepared for everyone to experience just what he has to offer.

“At this point in my life, I’m seeing my success,” said Lee.  “I’m ready, I’m mature enough for it, and my product is solid for the world to accept it.”

Check out Marvin Lee’s websitefor more information on his upcoming shows.

Lee’s ReverbNation page:


One thought on “Ready for the world: Detroit artist Marvin Lee brings international flavor to R&B

  1. I’m very proud of you. This is a great profile. I hope my pointers helped. By the way, I’m still waiting to read the Charity Ward rewrite. Keep up the good work. You’re going to be a major music journalist soon.

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