Friends, in case you don't know, this is Lessie Williams. I originally met her through my friend, Barbara Bates Smith who urged me to go hear Lessie sing at the local community college this past Christmas. Lessie was a part of the usual Christmas fare, but she was definitely different! After "Jingle Bells Rock" and "Winter Wonderland," Lo! suddenly there was Lessie. She has what some reviewers would call "an imposing presence." When she began singing, I felt like the force of her voice lifted the audience and moved them back a few feet. The sound is deep and forceful, rising and falling, dropping to a whisper and rising to a joyful shout. Well, I was hooked.
In performance, some of Lessie Williams' original songs last fifteen to twenty minutes. In a world where pop lyrics rarely extend beyond three or four minutes, Lessie's gospel music has a powerful and prolonged impact. The length of the songs encourages audience participation. Feet begin to tap, hands clap, bodies sway and often the audience rises to its feet, moving with Lessie. It was a memorable evening.
Not long after the Christmas show, I had the opportunity to talk to Lessie. She actually asked me if I knew someplace where she could sing! Although this lady has a bunch of CDs and some impressive awards for her singing, no one is marketing her. Well, to get to the bottom line, I arranged for Lessie to sing in a little cafe in Dillsboro called The Whistle Stop which could seat about 60 folks. Lessie and I did a minimal amount of promotion and we filled the place. Now, what I would like to do is open up this post to the audience that heard Lessie sing. So come on folks, give us a response to what you heard. I'm hoping that, with a little luck, we might find Lessie a "larger audience," so if you have opinions as to how that might be accomplished, please say so. Does she need a stage? Musical accompaniment? A back-up choir? An expanded program with mainstream music?