Violinist graduates to bigger, better things

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Lee England Jr. is a man of many musical talents. He sings. He plays the bass, French horn, percussion, trumpet, keyboard and viola.

Lee England Jr. is a man of many musical talents. He sings. He plays the bass, French horn, percussion, trumpet, keyboard and viola.

But the violin is not only his self-proclaimed passion, it’s what has made him very popular around town. Since graduating from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in May, with a triple major in music business, music education and music performance, England has been performing at a number of local venues and festivals, including at events for Operation/PUSH and Real Men Cook Inc. He is also a Wednesday night regular at Checkerboard Lounge, 5201 S. Harper Ct., in Hyde Park. Confidence peaks through his modesty when England recalls the reaction he got from the crowd at the Real Men Cook celebration on Father’s Day. But the adulation is not unusual for the Waukegan native who has been performing at college events and with bands for more than three years. “Once I started playing, people were interested. It was a Black dude playing the violin, something you don’t see all the time,” England, 24, told the Defender.

He performed OutKast’s So Fresh, So Clean at the Real Men Cook celebration, where he was only supposed to do two songs. But he continued to play, despite the host and sound crew trying to cut him off because the audience asked for more.

“It turned into an interview. People in the audience started asking me a million questions, everything from where did you grow up, to where are your CDs,” England said. “By the time I finished, they were going crazy.”

His style is heavily influenced by hip hop and R&B, but England said he listens to everything. He even listens to stuff he doesn’t like in an effort to be well-versed in many music genres.

Though he has been submitting resumes for teaching positions, England said his main goal is to be in a position where he can perform and travel.

______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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