His voice has been compared to James Brown, but Lee Fields is no knock-off – he’s the real thing.
Listening to the soul sounds coming through his transistor radio in the late fifties and early sixties, Lee was hooked. Through the seventies, he made his living touring the legendary Chitlin’ Circuit alongside some of the greatest names in blues and soul history. He landed a gig with Kool and the Gang before their rise to fame. But, as the seventies came to a close, disco began its reign and Lee's soul career plummeted.
For decades, he thought his music dreams were dead. But with one phone call, everything changed...
Interspersed with striking, never-before seen performances of new and classic Lee Fields songs, the Lee Fields Film (working title) takes us through Lee's memories from the moment soul music began to his hard-won present-day success -
and shows how 50 years of changing technology has conspired to create one beautiful but fleeting moment in music history.
As Lee will tell you, it’s all about timing.
Lee Fields hails from a performance tradition of an all but lost musical era. His performance style is impassioned and immediate, his moves are classic, and his music brings the past into the present with authenticity rather than imitation.
Lee Fields isn’t ‘retro’ – he’s the real thing.
While he’s been working towards this current moment his entire career, Lee has gone through a lifetime of ups and downs. He’s experienced brushes with fame and failure, only to come back again stronger, more true to his own sound and style, more ready.
Now, his classic sound has found a new audience in the millennial generation, and they can't get enough. Lee has watched his star rise among fans that have come of age as music - and every facet of our lives - has been taken by digital storm.
Since 2009 he’s released four hit records with his band, The Expressions. He's played to packed houses around the world, and at music festivals like Bonnaroo, South by Southwest, and Coachella.
Lee is enjoying unprecedented success – but what lies ahead?
In recent years, a wave of classic artists – including Lee’s dear friends, Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones – have passed away. As more and more of the originators and celebrators of the genre leave us, Lee stands as the greatest soul singer still alive and making music today – and the responsibility of carrying this music forward into the next generation rests on his shoulders.
The magic of his voice, the deep living history embedded in his music, the raw power of his live performances – these things are happening now – and they won’t last forever. We’ve been filming with Lee over the course of the past 5 years, capturing this critical moment in his life, and in music history.
The Lee Fields film is co-directed and produced by filmmaking team Jessamyn Ansary and Joyce Mishaan. Joyce & Jessamyn met in creative writing class in college, and have been dreaming of making a film together ever since!
Jessamyn Ansary got her start working with acclaimed director Michael Apted on the second installment of his multi-year documentary film, Married in America. She has worked on five different HBO documentaries: Momentum in Science (2009), Real Sex (2009), Wartorn (2010), I can’t Do This But I Can Do That (2010) and Americans in Bed (2013). Jessamyn helped develop and pitch the Emmy-nominated documentary film Escape Fire: the Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, which premiered at Sundance in 2012, was distributed by roadside attractions/lionsgate, and aired on CNN. Other credits include programs for National Geographic, Travel Channel, Food Network, Al Jazeera America, CNBC, PBS, Fusion, MTV, and Lifetime. Her favorite Lee Fields song is "Could Have Been," and she's thrilled to share Lee's music and story with the world.
Joyce Mishaan is a producer and director for TV and film and proud to be one of those rare Brooklyn natives. Joyce got her start in TV and film as a Production Assistant on MTV’s Making the Band (a gig that Jessamyn landed her!) and has gained over a decade of experience creating unscripted content for major TV networks since then. Her credits include programs for National Geographic, Discovery, HBO, IFC, Food Network, Animal Planet, A&E, OWN, Fusion, HGTV, MTV and TLC. Joyce recently produced a series of short films about climate change for former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project and is the Producer / Co-EP of Brooklynification, a digital scripted comedy series about gentrification in Brooklyn created for BRIC TV. She spent many years as a Producer for Food Network's hit show Chopped, and was part of the producing team for the 2014 Emmy-nominated feature doc Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare. Her favorite Lee Fields song is Don’t Leave Me This Way, and co-creating the Lee Fields Film is, by far, the coolest thing she’s ever had the opportunity to do.
LEE FIELDS & THE EXPRESSIONS There aren't too many artists making soul music today who had a release in 1969, back when R&B was first beginning to give the drummer some. Lee Fields, however, is one such artist--or maybe he's better labeled a phenomenon. Since the late sixties, the North Carolina native has amassed a prolific catalog of albums and has toured and played with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal. With a career spanning 43 years, releases on twelve different record labels, and having toured the world over with his raucous-yet-tender voice, it's mind-blowing that the music he's making today is the best of his career. With a catalogue that ranges from James Brown-style funk to lo-fi blues to contemporary Southern soul, Lee Fields has done it all. Today, with his band, The Expressions, Lee Fields continues to evolve, enmeshed into the group's sweeping, string-laden, cinematic soul sound.
We have been filming with Lee over the course of 5 years, capturing his story at a critical moment.
We’ve hit the road with Lee on tour, we’ve been with Lee and his team in the recording studio over the course of two albums (and counting...), we’ve met his family, we’ve captured quiet and joyful moments at home. We've filmed him singing everywhere from packed concert venues to his own garage.
We've financed all production costs thus far on a shoestring budget with the generous support of a few family and friends and money we could spare out of pocket.
Now, we need your help to get us over the finish line. We're raising this money to finance the final, and most expensive elements of production: recreating Lee's memories, a show-stopping performance shoot, and interviews with musicians and cultural icons who will help frame our story.
Your generous contribution will allow us to bring Lee's memories and music to life.
The moments that fuel who he is on stage, that define the tradition he comes from, that have brought him to this moment in his life - those will feature prominently in the film to help build that living history that we get to experience when he performs.
Your support will also help us to do a very special performance shoot with Lee Fields, where he'll sing both new hits and classic songs alike.
This will allow us to include breathtaking performances of vintage Lee Fields songs that are never performed in concert and have never, until now, been captured on camera.
(Check out our PERKS section for info on how you can own an exclusive copy of these rare performances!)
We are also in the process of interviewing musicians and cultural icons who can help frame that changing landscape of music over the decades. Your contribution will go towards capturing these voices on camera.
If you’re interested in being a part of the journey in a more significant way, please reach out to discuss investment opportunities and executive producer credits. You can reach us at: email@example.com.
Kickstarter is all or nothing - if we don’t reach our baseline goal of $50,000 by midnight (EST) July 20th, we will see zero dollars from this campaign. Don’t leave us this way!! Now is the moment to share Lee's story with the world, and it’s a really exciting time for you to join us on the journey. Please help us out by contributing whatever you can, and please, please tell your friends!
We will share our deepest gratitude by delivering a film that honors and celebrates the heart and soul that Lee Fields brings to his music and to every moment in his life.
Risks and challenges
Sometimes documentaries take longer to make than you hope. We've been working on this film for 5 years, and we expect to finish it by fall of 2019.
Successfully raising our goal amount will allow us to shoot the final and most expensive elements of this film. Any additional funds we raise beyond our goal will go towards post production, helping to ensure that we complete the film and get it to audiences on schedule.
As with any creative endeavor, there may be unforeseen delays or issues that come up and derail our best laid plans. Based on our five-year investment in the project, our own professional track records, and the amazing team we've brought together around the project, we're confident that we can get this thing finished and out into the world quickly, no matter what lies ahead. We’re so ready.
- (31 days)