Americana duo Kate Lee & Forrest O’Connor earned national recognition as co-lead singers and primary songwriters of the O’Connor Band, a group they co-founded along with O’Connor’s father, seven-time CMA Award-winning violinist Mark O’Connor. They wrote the majority of the band’s first album, Coming Home, which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Bluegrass Albums Chart and won a GRAMMY Award in 2017.
Both independently and as part of the O’Connor Band, Lee and O’Connor have collaborated with Paul Simon, Zac Brown, Kenny Loggins, Clint Black, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Dan Tyminski, and many others. Their music has accumulated more than half a million streams on Spotify, and they have performed at the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, and Fenway Park, as well as some of the most prominent festivals and performing arts centers around the country.
Lee and O’Connor were introduced in 2014 by Nashville-based arranger Kris Wilkinson (Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum, Brandi Carlile), who believed their powerful, expressive vocals and writing sensibilities would align. O’Connor, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard and former Tennessee State Mandolin Champion, shared a love of ‘60s classic rock, ‘70s folk rock, ‘90s country, bluegrass, and modern pop music with Lee, a Belmont graduate and violinist who frequently backed up stars ranging from John Legend and Kelly Clarkson to Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood at the CMA Awards and CMA Country Christmas shows. They soon began performing together as a duo, and their first EP, The Demonstration, reached #13 on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter chart with no label or promotion campaign. After performing for three years with the O’Connor Band, they’re excited to focus again on their duo project with the help of a backing band featuring two-time national mandolin champion Isaac Eicher, GRAMMY Award-winning bassist (and Doctor of Music) Geoff Saunders, and country vocalist Mallory Eagle.
[Cover photo by Laura E. Partain.]
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