Lee Lee Everette is out for approval from only one source.
“The man upstairs,” she says, pointing overhead.
Chances seem fair that her powerful voice - singing gospel, jazz and R&B; - reaches all the way to his ear. And surely, he approves.
Everette, 42, has sung for thousands of people in the Inland Northwest - with the former Planet Lounge Orchestra, the North Idaho College concert choir and now The DeSotos, at weddings and clubs.
That she is often the only black - in her office, in the concert choir and in the Army Reserve unit she belonged to for nine years - doesn’t bother her.
“It may bother other people, but it doesn’t bother me,” she says.
Everette came to the Spokane Valley in 1975 as a teenager, joining her parents and younger brothers and sisters. She sang in school and church. Now, she still lives with her mother on Eighth Street behind ShopKo - “We’re good friends” - and helps out with an extended family of nieces and nephews.
She also is married to a man she describes as her fifth-grade sweetheart and her best friend.
That he lives in Kansas and that they see each other just once a year, she says, suits them both well.
In a world where husbands and wives ordinarily live together, Everette’s long-distance marriage is another of those things that may bother some people around her, but not her.
Everette is too busy for a more ordinary life, she says. She is on her way to Texas in May, hoping she’ll find her way into recording. Her singing schedule for the summer reaches from the Tri-Cities to Montana.
“I take my music seriously,” she says.
She dreams of an all-city gospel choir in Spokane.
“They have little kids in choirs. Why not just add the adults? There is so much talent in Spokane,” she says. But Everette is a singer and actress - not a director.
“I’m the only singer in the North Idaho concert choir who can’t read music,” she says.
“For my 50th birthday, I’d like to learn to play the piano.”
And she has other dreams: of moving to a supervisor’s job after 19 years at the Department of Social and Health Services. Of putting on a gospel benefit concert to buy a new wheelchair for a niece who is incapacitated with multiple sclerosis. Of opening a day-care after she retires. Of having the time to rock newborn babies in the hospital.
But first on her list is getting to Texas.
“This man in Texas, he’s got a song for me.”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.