Ethel Lee's Biography

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Singing is a passion for Ethel. She has loved to sing for as long as she can remember. Born in Evergreen, Alabama as the oldest daughter of four children to Reverend W.J. Sims and Helen Sims, she graduated from A. & M. University in Huntsville, Alabama. Like many performers she started singing in church as a child, and was a member of the choir in both high school and college.


Ethel was the first female and first African American police officer to be hired on the West Springfield Police force in West Springfield, MA. In 2003 after serving 28 years on the force she retired, and although she was offered two jobs afterwards, instead she welcomed the opportunity to focus solely on her singing career.

There were three performers that influenced Ethel's singing career as a teenager. Number one on the list was the incredible Nancy Wilson with Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis as close seconds. Over the years other influences were added to the list and include Marlena Shaw, Carmen McRae, Earnestine Anderson, Gloria Lynn, Shirley Horn, Esther Phillips, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Della Reese, Mary Stallings, Betty Carter, Natalie Cole, Sarah Vaughn, Bobby Bland, B.B. King, Lou Rawls, Joe Williams, Luther Vandross, Victor Fields, Johnny Hartman, and Will Downing.

Ethel's History


Ethel started singing professionally with keyboard player, J.R. Frederick from West Springfield, MA. J.R. asked Ethel to work with him after hearing her at a West Springfield fund raiser talent show. They worked together in Chicopee, MA at the former Angelos restaurant. Ethel is grateful for her earliest singing opportunities working with J.R. and, especially the long term singing opportunities with The Eric Bascom Quintet, and Richie Mitnick & Rhapsody, formally The Sounds of Music Singers. Working with them was instrumental in helping to give me the experience I needed to become a better entertainer.

Around 5 years ago, Ethel felt the need to take on a more creative role in her singing career and decided to branch out and form the Ethel Lee Ensemble. Forming her own group gave her the freedom to do just that. She was fortunate to find musicians who were open to her ideas and choice of music.

Ethel has performed on a professional level approximately 16 years for many public, as well as private functions, including but not limited to:
The Summer Concert Series on the Patio at Pizzeria Uno, Pazzo Restaurant formally known as Carmella's, the former Opal Restaurant, and Cabaret in Springfield, MA, Yankee Pedler and The Delaney House in Holyoke, MA, Acqua Oyster Bar & Grill in Vernon, CT, and a host of other locations in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.


Ethel has also performed for District Attorney William Bennett's Law Day fund raisers for many years, as well as the former Senator Edward Brooks public service award ceremony at the Westin Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts in 2000. She has also performed at numerous fund raisers for State Representative Benjamin Swan.

In addition Ethel and her trio performed at a fund raising event for campaigning Governor elect Deval Patrick, and was also one of the performing bands for Governor Patrick's inaugural ball at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, MA in January, 2007.

Ethel also performed in her first play in 2003. She played "The Lady from the Road" in The West Springfield's Majestic Theater's 2003 musical production "Blues in the Night". The play revealed the story of three women who had all been wronged by the same man at different times of their lives.

Ethel is thankful for all of her singing opportunities with every musician that she has worked with. In addition, other respected and talented musicians that have hired her to work with them are included in the following list:
Billy Arnold - Drummer
Mark Barowsky - Saxophone
Eric Bascom - Guitar
Chris Casey - Keyboard
George David - Saxophone
J.R. Frederick - Keyboard
Kent Hewitt - Keyboard
Tido Holtkamp - Drummer
Richie Mitnick - Keyboard
Matthew Quinn - Keyboard
Genevieve Rose - Bass
I am truly honored to be associated with the circle of incredibly talented and professional musicians that I have the pleasure of working with.

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