CLIFTON, N.J. -- A local singer released her first EP after years of singing backup for major artists and belting out the National Anthem at political events.
Clifton singer Cynthia Lee, 33, launched her career when Jon Corzine was a U.S. Senator. Her singing prompted the senator to give her the nickname “Songbird," she said.
Her day job as Deputy Director of Immigration led to her singing the National Anthem at Corzine's swearing-in ceremony for Governor of NJ in 2006. She also sang the Anthem at other political events and ceremonies.
Lee writes and sings all her own music and lyrics said her EP "Carousel" is available free on SoundCloud.
"Music is supposed to be shared. I want to gift it. An EP is like your business card for the industry, a sneak-peek of what you can do," Lee said.
The title track is a love ballad describing "the ups and downs of a relationship," Lee said.
"The song is a combination of the heartbreak you experience, things (you hear) from friends, see in the movies. They are little flashing moments of love.
"When I thought of 'Carousel' it reminded me of the beauty of a relationship. I knew as a kid I couldn't last on a carousel long without feeling sick. Some people get out of a relationship fast. Others stay on," Lee said.
"Perfectly/Imperfectly" is about someone embracing who they are, that no one is ever made the same," she said.
A Puerto Rican American, Lee is self taught vocalist and said she grew up around music, dancing ballet, contemporary, hip hop and jazz both on her own and with instructors. By the time she was a teen, she was singing more passionately .
She was a member of her school choir and by 16 was leading her church youth worship team and taking mission trips to Mexico and Dominican Republic.
Her singing career included trying out for "American Idol" and being part of a female salsa group.
She sang backup for several artists, including Henry Santos, an original member of the Latin group Aventura. Lee toured with Santos on his European tour in May 2012 and continued to travel on tour with him through July 2013.
Working with Santos gave her the opportunity to sing in Spanish, something she likes to do when she goes to karaoke bars, she said.
"For a vocalist to sing Spanish uses your vowels and mouth differently. When training, (others) say you should try to sing in other languages," Lee said.
Lee said she is focusing her future energy on her vocal performing. She's eager to tour as a solo artist and plans on releasing another album.
"I'm outgoing. I have a big personality and I'm happiest when singing and performing on stage," she said.
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