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Wednesday, September 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Music

Amos Lee uses pain, darkness as starting points for healing, growth on ‘My New Moon’

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 22, 2019, 4:19 p.m.

In 2007, singer-songwriter Amos Lee began working with Musicians on Call, a program that brings live and recorded music to patients in health care facilities.

These bedside concerts led Lee to perform at VA hospitals and for the Wounded Warrior Project and the Seattle-based Melodic Caring Project, which found him singing via video for children who were quarantined or not well enough to have visitors.

“Everything about the connection of music hit me harder, and I thought, ‘How can I be helpful and reach out in a more real way?’ ” Lee said in his artist bio about his work with these organizations. “Songs have become a bridge, a way for me to reach outside myself and into other people’s lives.

My mission now is to connect with people, to still have fun, but to have my intention be more outwardly based, and from a place of giving and service.”

Years later, that mission to connect, give and serve inspired Lee’s latest album, “My New Moon,” which was released in 2018 and brings the Philadelphia-born singer to the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox on Saturday.

A cornerstone of “My New Moon,” “Little Light” was inspired by a connection Lee made with a young fan named Maya Gladhart through the Melodic Caring Project.

During a livestreamed concert, Lee gave a shout out to Gladhart, who had recently been diagnosed with kidney cancer.

He later visited her and her family and eventually began sending Gladhart songs (a cover of “Let It Go” from “Frozen” and an original tune called “Pink and Purple,” according to an NPR article) to help cheer her up.

“She’s a beautiful kid who was suffering a lot, and sometimes she and her dad would FaceTime me from her hospital room, while she was going through chemo, and I would sing to her,” Lee said about the now-10-year-old. “I wanted to write her something with hope and to remind her that she was awesome.”

“Some days I feel like I’m against the wall/But then I look at you standin’ strong and tall against it all/Hey, let your little light shine/Let your little light shine for the world to see,” Lee sings in “Little Light.” As of July, Gladhart’s cancer was in remission.

Lee knew that the songs “Don’t Fade Away” and “Whiskey on Ice” also needed to be included on “My New Moon.”

According to Lee’s artist bio, the former was written for a friend whose child died, and the latter was inspired by the unexpected death of a friend.

The sudden death of Lee’s grandmother also inspired “My New Moon,” particularly the songs “All You Got Is a Song” and “Hang On, Hang On.”

In his artist bio, Lee recalled singing songs like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “What a Wonderful World” and “Born to Lose,” his grandfather’s favorite song, to his grandmother while she was in the hospital.

“It’s in these moments that I realize how sacred music is and how the world, which seems in such disarray, can find simple solace and connection in the light of song,” he said.

Lee’s own experiences are included on “My New Moon,” of course, but he wants it to be known that the stories of the people he’s met throughout his career play just as big a part.

“I want to connect, and to be open to those who have hardship, so that they know I hear their stories in the same way that they hear mine, and that we’re in this together,” he said. “I don’t want to overwhelm the listener with sorrow, but I am inspired by these friends and families and want to help their light find shape.”

That seems to be the goal of “My New Moon,” using moments of pain and darkness as starting points for healing and growth.

Lee noted that the times he’s grown the most have come from times of crisis when he wasn’t sure who he was.

But in listening to others and trying to connect with them in their moments of pain or victory, he found a lot of room to start again.

“Just a beginning, a simple place to start, a conversation, a song, to see and feel someone else’s humanity in your own,” he said. “That’s always been my interest. Sometimes I get there, and often I don’t, but I hope in these songs, someone finds a place to start.”

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