Not just a catchy song title, the phrase “Take Me as I Am” is also how singer Norman Lee presents himself. The lifelong entertainer says he’s doing what he always planned to do—perform as well and as often as he can.
A frequent face in venues in The Villages, Norman is handsome, energetic, and talented. He writes all his own songs and is a truly local singer, recording his music at Blue Camel Studio in Belleview. He is also an active member of his community. But in everything he does, one thing is obvious: he loves his music.
“There are two kinds of musicians—working and not working. I’ve been lucky enough to make a living with my music,” Norman says. “Sometimes that’s kind of hard to do.”
At 45, he says he’s been performing for 40 years, beginning at home as a young child.
“We had a real close family and I was always the entertainer. I took voice lessons for four years and, as soon as I graduated from high school, I was on the road,” Norman recalls. “I’ve been everywhere and done everything. I had my first country record contract in 1990 and I still have a video on CMT.”
Known in some circles as the “Caribbean Cowboy,” Norman was a country music singer for many years. He was the opening act for many well-known country singers, including Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, and Willie Nelson.
“I sing all styles. Being versatile, I think, has helped my career,” says Norman. “I love to entertain people, and they love to be entertained.”
Like many entertainers, however, Norman found the 24-hour lifestyle difficult to maintain. When personal problems began interfering with his work schedule, he decided it was time to make some changes in his life.
“I know you can’t be a young, rock-and-roll star forever, and I made some bad choices,” Norman says. “But I knew one thing for sure—there wasn’t a time in my life when I didn’t believe in God.”
Norman took that knowledge and, with help from caring friends, moved his life in a different direction. Always a prolific songwriter, he began writing contemporary Christian songs and recorded two CDs of his original works.
“I was lucky enough to hook up with Father Mark over at St. Paul’s in Belleview,” Norman says. “I became the music director at the church, which gave me a great place to hone the craft of Christian music.”
Norman knows the music industry and is well acquainted with the work behind promoting a CD. As an independent singer/songwriter, he knew he needed help behind the scenes, so he assembled a group of experts in various parts of the industry to help produce his own music.
“It takes a lot of time to have the success we’ve had with the Christian music. I say ‘we’ because there are a lot of people involved in my music,” Norman admits. “I’m not a savvy enough businessman to make things happen on my own.”
While changing the focus of his music, Norman stayed with his strengths, keeping his versatility and his energetic performance level.
“My style of singing and entertaining has a wide appeal, and I realized that there are the same styles of music in the Christian world as there are in the secular world. I tried to find a style that was a little of all of it,” he says with a smile. “I can do any kind of music.”
The changes in Norman’s life are also evident, especially in his personal quest.
“Before when was singing, I’d wake up every day and say, ‘What can I do today to get more famous?’ And that’s the business, that’s the way it’s done, that’s why there are stars,” he says. “But when I started the contemporary Christian music, I wanted to help people the way I had been helped. I wanted to do the kind of music that speaks to your heart.”
Father Mark J. Niznik, feels Norman is “absolutely brilliant” and is thrilled to have him aid the ministry at St. Paul’s by being the music minister.
“Norman is one of God’s messengers,” Father Mark says. “His music complements the mass in a unique way, helping to fill people’s hearts with the Holy Spirit.”
“When I hear them [the audience] singing the words to my songs, it’s great,” Norman says. “When they come to me and say that my song helped them get through something with God’s help, you can’t pay me for that. There’s no price set for that, and that has affected me.”
Though Norman still performs all types of music, his recording is dedicated to the contemporary Christian music he loves to write.
“Somebody once told me that those who drive the hardest, fall the hardest, and that’s very true. It wasn’t fun going down, but it has been coming back up. I’m having more fun at 45 than I did at 25,” Norman says with a big smile. “There’s no greater feeling than taking a white sheet and filling it with a song.”
Norman continues to perform in churches and concert halls around the country. He does 200 shows a year and feels his life in on the right course and is pursuing it zealously.
“I’m here to let God use me as a conduit,” he says. “I’m headed where I want to go.”
Norman Lee On CD
Get information about the CDs and see a calendar of performance dates at www.normanleeprayon.com.