Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
A heartfelt and inspired pop/rock record that charts the transformation of a vision into reality.
Created by
302 backers pledged $12,783 to help bring this project to life.

About

MJ Lee.'s Debut Album: The Lights Ahead project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

$12,783

302

FINAL WEEK: Can you help me reach my stretch goal of $15,000?

 project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

We did it again! Not only did we fund the album, we reached our first and second stretch goals, surpassing $10,000! I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the support I've received from all of you. Thank you for sharing your gifts with me; I look forward to sharing mine in return.

THIRD New Goal! Music Video—$15K 

I have a vision of making a music video for one of the songs on the album—one that captures the spirit of this album and illustrates the journey of moving forward into the world with a dream. I'd love to be able to make this video; the additional funds from this stretch goal will help me get there. 

(Updated June 5)

------------------------

Purpose

What dreams, what visions do we hold inside of us?

I want to show people that we can live out our dreams with passion and conviction—that we don't have to be afraid.

I believe that music has the power to electrify us—to stoke the flames of our longings and potential. I write songs to inspire, to connect, to capture moments of truth and beauty. 

I'd like to invite you to help me finish and release my first album. Being a performing and recording musician has been my lifelong dream, and this album is an important step forward in sharing my vision with others. You can help me bring it to life by pledging to this Kickstarter: just hit the green button that says "Back This Project" at the top-right of this page to get started. 

Recording violin at Gawain Mathews Music Studio
Recording violin at Gawain Mathews Music Studio

The Beginnings of an Album

This is the story of how I lost my voice and found it again.

When I was twelve years old, I wrote my first song and performed it at a summer camp talent show. It was my first taste of a craft that I would soon recognize as my heart's calling. No one had ever told me I could write songs, but it came naturally: I had an ear for melody from having learned to play violin and a fondness for the rhythm and poetry of words. Performing felt natural, too: what better way to share the joy and beauty of my explorations? Songs became my canvas and my heartbeat. I wrote and performed for friends, at talent shows and school and summer events, and even in class. 

But something else was happening during those years that shook my faith. Messages from my environment seeped into my psyche and grew into gnawing doubts: I wasn’t supposed to be a musician. I was supposed to go to a good college or university. I was supposed to have a stable, respectable professional career. 

I listened. By the time I left for college, I had stopped writing songs. 

The Lights Ahead is a chronicle of the journey I've taken back to writing and performing music. Each song is a step along the path: being compelled toward a vision, wrestling with doubt and old fears, and finally, accepting the task of bringing it into reality. 

These songs are about having the courage to say yes to who we are.

Project Goals

Initial Goal: The Album — $6K

I’m raising $6,000 toward the costs of creating this album: recording, production, session musicians, mixing, mastering, and manufacturing. The completed album will have six songs and an intro track, arranged for full band with piano, strings, guitars, bass, drums, and more. The funds will also go toward offsetting Kickstarter’s fees (5% of funds raised plus an additional 3-5% for processing payments) and fulfilling rewards. 

Stretch Goal #1: Artwork and Layout — $8K

The additional funds from this goal will help pay for a professional designer to create the album artwork and a lyrics booklet. It will also allow me to upgrade to 100% recycled-paper packaging. That way, the album can look and feel as beautiful as it sounds.

Stretch Goal #2: Promotion — $10K

Once the album is complete, it needs an audience. If I reach this stretch goal, I will be able to cover about two months of marketing and promotion through blogs, press, social media, and a variety of digital distribution channels.

Stretch Goal #3: A Music Video — $15K

One of my visions for this album is to have a professional music video, which would help realize its full potential. A strong video can serve as a promotional tool to establish my artistic identity and reach new audiences. 

The Team

I’m working with a dream team of collaborators to produce this album:

Jeff Campbell is a nationally renowned singer/songwriter and guitarist who beat over 13,000 other musicians to win Guitar Center’s National Singer/Songwriter Competition in 2013. He has shared the stage with John Mayer and members of Counting Crows, opened for multi-platinum, multi-Grammy-winning band Train, and performed on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show. He has co-produced several of his own albums and recently produced the debut EP for singer/songwriter Caroline Sky.

Gawain Mathews is a producer, recording engineer, and multi-instrumentalist who has worked with hundreds of artists during his career of over 20 years in the music business. Highlights include performing with the Utah Symphony, touring extensively as lead guitarist for Grammy-winning world music and jam-band legend Mickey Hart, and producing a song for a Grammy-winning album (2005 Best Traditional Folk album). His productions have been featured on the television shows So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and more.

How to Pledge

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share this project with you, and I’d love for you be a part of it. Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Back this project. Scroll up to the top of this page and click the “Back This Project” button on the right-hand side. 
  • Pick a reward. I’m excited to offer a range of one-of-a-kind items and experiences as tokens of my gratitude. Take a look and see if there’s something that you like! 
  • Tell your friends and networks. Your personal emails, Facebook posts, tweets, and other shares will go a long way in helping this project find success. I hope this project can inspire you and the people you know.

It’s Gonna Be Good...

I’ve been working hard over the past several years to hone my performing and songwriting skills, and I’m laying the groundwork to become a successful independent musician. This year, I’ve started to receive local recognition for my efforts, including three consecutive Best Performance of the Month awards through the Berkeley chapter of West Coast Songwriters.

Sharing the WCS Berkeley awards with Nell Maynard in March 2016
Sharing the WCS Berkeley awards with Nell Maynard in March 2016

For those of you who took the time to read this far, I'd like to offer you an early piano/vocal demo we made back in September for one of the songs on the album, "A Little While Longer" (requires Adobe Flash Player): 

It’s an honor and a privilege to be bringing you this album—I can’t wait to deliver it into your hands and ears.

A Special Thank You

I had the honor of working with Salvatore Fullmore on the video for this Kickstarter—I'm truly humbled and grateful to have had his expertise and collaborative spirit on this project. I also want to thank my producer Gawain Mathews for allowing us to shoot in his amazing studio and my dear Fort friends for helping me with video revisions. Peter Su inspired me with his Into the Sea Kickstarter campaign and pointed the way to the resources like Launch and Release that helped me to communicate my message with clarity and purpose.  

Risks and challenges

The album is well on its way to completion, so the risks and challenges are relatively few. However, there is always a risk that unforeseen circumstances could prevent the project from staying on schedule, such as errors in the manufacturing process or an unexpected illness or injury. If any of these circumstances should arise, I will find a way to move forward and provide updates. I'm fortunate to have a wonderful network of collaborators and fellow musicians who can advise me if a problem arises that I'm not able to solve on my own.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    DIGITAL SINGLE: Everyone who pledges to this campaign will receive an advance digital download of the first song I release from the album—I'm truly grateful for your support.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    15 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    DIGITAL ALBUM: Get an advance digital copy of the album before its release date.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    96 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    SIGNED PHYSICAL ALBUM: Get an autographed CD copy of the new album plus an advance digital copy of the album.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    118 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    HANDWRITTEN LYRIC SHEET: Pick any song on the album, and I'll write out the lyrics by hand and mail them to you. Also includes a signed CD and advance digital album.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 11 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    **NEW REWARD**
    T-SHIRT: Get a beautifully designed t-shirt based on the album artwork and printed on high-quality, sweatshop-free material. Also comes with a handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD, and advance digital album. The t-shirt is also included in the other $70+ reward packages below!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 5 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    PERSONALIZED POEM: Choose a prompt word or question, and I'll write a short poem in response and send you a handwritten copy in the mail. Also comes with a handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD, and advance digital album.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 6 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    FIDDLEGRAM: Celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion with a short recorded greeting and violin serenade, sent via email on the date of your choosing. Also includes a handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD, and advance digital album.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 19 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $130 or more About $130

    MUSIC COACHING: Let's work on music together! We'll get together for a 45-minute in-person coaching session or video call on your choice of violin, songwriting, and/or singing. Also includes a handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD, and advance digital album.

    Please note that in-person sessions must take place in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    WRITER'S BLOCK REMEDY: Feeling stuck on a creative project? Let's get together for an hour to chat about your process and do some writing exercises over coffee. I'll send a personalized follow-up email with goal reminders and words of encouragement. Also includes a handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD, and advance digital album.

    In-person meetings will take place in San Francisco, Oakland, or Berkeley. If you're outside the SF Bay Area, a video call is also possible.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $180 or more About $180

    LINER NOTES CREDIT: Your name will be listed in a "thank you" section in the liner notes of the album. Also includes a handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD, and advance digital album.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    GOOD KARMA: For those who want to offer support with a no-strings contribution. Many thanks for your generosity—I'll be sure to pay it forward. I'll also send you a copy of the digital album as a small token of appreciation.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    4 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    LISTENER'S REQUEST: I'll learn a song of your choosing and cover it on violin or voice/piano. You'll get an audio recording of it to keep. Also includes a liner notes credit, handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD, and advance digital album.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A SONG FOR YOU: I'll write a brand new song on the theme or topic of your choosing; we can work together to develop the concept and style. Also makes a great gift! You'll get an audio recording to keep. Also includes a liner notes credit, handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD, and advance digital album.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    LIVE VIOLINIST: I'll play up to two hours of violin at your event, party, or private gathering, including up to five requests. My specialty is arranging popular tunes for violin. One lovely option is to entertain guests with a strolling violinist in a backyard or garden. Also includes a listener's request cover song, liner notes credit, handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD, and advance digital album.

    Date to be mutually agreed upon. If you live outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, please be prepared to cover travel expenses.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  15. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    SOLO HOUSE CONCERT: I'll play a private solo show in your home for you and your friends and provide signed CDs for up to 20 attendees. Also includes a listener's request cover song, liner notes credit, handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD (for you to keep), and advance digital album.

    Date to be mutually agreed upon. If you live outside the San Francisco Bay Area, please be prepared to cover travel expenses (unless I am touring in your area at the time).

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  16. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    FULL BAND CONCERT: I'll play a private show at your home or other mutually agreed-upon venue and bring a full band with me. I'll also provide signed CDs for up to 20 attendees. Also includes a listener's request cover song, liner notes credit, handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD (for you to keep), and advance digital album.

    Date to be mutually agreed upon. If you live outside the SF Bay Area, please be prepared to cover travel expenses (unless I am touring in your area at the time).

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  17. Select this reward

    Pledge $3,500 or more About $3,500

    CHIEF PATRON/EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CREDIT: You'll appear in the liner notes of the album as an Executive Producer, a sign of my deep gratitude for your instrumental role in bringing this project alive. You'll also get a private solo house concert (anywhere in the US) and signed CDs for up to 20 attendees. Also includes a listener's request cover song, handwritten lyric sheet, signed CD (for you to keep), and advance digital album.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (25 days)