Urban-pop artist Bria Lee’s father’s dying wish was that she would pursue her musical gifts in New York City. When she arrived on the scene, she soon found herself aimless in an 80-hour grind. Between waiting tables and working at a pizzeria, Bria wedged in restaurant gigs.
It would be one fateful record label showcase that changed everything. After the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Bria signed to Republic Records and now steps forward with a pair of singles, “Purple Clouds” and “One Shot” [feat. Fat Joe], that exude a sensually emotive sensibility that fuses rugged hip-hop beats with sublime, edgy pop and allude to her forthcoming debut album.
But Bria was never just a waitress. She sang before she could talk, and, through hard work, made good on her gifts in music. Growing up in a musical household in Providence, Rhode Island, her mother sang and played guitar and her father was fascinated with artists and musicians. It was a warm and nurturing atmosphere that allowed Bria to hone her prodigious talents. Her father would drive her to lessons and auditions, and he always urged her to not let her God-given talents go to waste. At the age of 17, she matriculated at New York’s Manhattan School of Music where she studied classical piano, quickly becoming a fixture on the NYC jazz scene as a singer.
Bria kept her musical promise to her father up until he was sick, then she paused everything to be with him back home in Rhode Island. “My dad and I related to each other through music. When he died, it was too painful to keep doing music—I was heartbroken—but then I found it to be more painful to not do music,” she confesses.
Bria’s musicality fuses the sultriness of soulful singer-songwriters like Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, and Corinne Bailey Rae with the bump of hip-hop. It’s a smooth topline set over a grimy 808 thump with touches of jazz and organic instrument for added flair. As a singer, Bria’s soulfulness manages to conjure the smoky expressiveness of a jazz vocalist and the sass and swagger of a MC. As a lyricist, Bria favors candor and impressionism, always seeking to capture the moment.=
Reflecting on her path and the future, Bria says, “I will never forget where I came from. I want to stay humble, work hard, and I hope one day to buy my mom a house.” These experiences have inspired her music, as she continues, “I write about my experiences, and I want my songs to be relatable. At the end of the day, we don’t want to feel alone. I want to reach people through being honest.”