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Glenn Lee Interview

A highly influential steel guitarist in Florida, Glenn Lee introduced pedal-steel guitar to the House of God churches of his home state.  Eclectic in his musical tastes, he incorporated elements of country music, blues, rock, jazz, funk and other genres into the music he played at the Perrine House of God, about fifteen miles south of Miami, where his father served as pastor.  His steel guitar playing reflected influence from his uncle, Bishop Lorenzo Harrison, who established the dominant steel guitar style among Church of the Living God musicians.  Glenn also played saxophone, keyboards and other instruments, and was a skilled composer and choir arranger-conductor.  As his extended family were clergy in both organizations, he served as a musician for the House of God and the Church of the Living God.  He also played keyboard regularly at the Bethel Baptist Church in the Miami-area historically black suburb of Richmond Heights.  Glenn Lee died in 2000.

– Robert L. Stone

The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive:
Glenn Lee Interview

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  • The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive: Glenn Lee Interview 00:00
Interviewee: Glenn Lee
Interviewer: Robert Stone
Date: 3/7/1994
Location: Miami, FL
Language: English

For the archive overview:
The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive

This is an interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission. info@arhoolie.org

Glenn Lee Interview Transcript:

Glenn Lee:

Oh, man. It was sad that he got killed. Someone killed him, and threw is body in the river.

Robert Stone:

Is that right?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. What happened is what … He was a one-man band. You probably know where his picture is at?

Robert Stone:

Yeah. We’re talking about Willie Blue here?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, we’re talking about Willie Blue.

Robert Stone:

He was your father’s …

Glenn Lee:

All right. Willie Blue was my father’s uncle. My father’s mother, who name was Rachel. Her original name was Rachel Blue, I may be wrong. Her brother name was Willie Blue. He’s the one that played … Yeah, that’s him. That’s my uncle right here.

Robert Stone:

Brother Willie Blue?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I have some audiotape of him, my father does. He put out a lot of tapes. This is my uncle right here. What happened was, all this stuff he was getting ready to … He told me … He was going to will all this stuff to me, but what happened was someone killed him and threw his body in the river. He was up here in North Carolina, and I never heard of anything else. We just found out about it, that someone killed him, probably about two years ago.

Robert Stone:

When did he die?

Glenn Lee:

I think, he died right away ’91. We found out in ’92. What happened was, he moved up to North Carolina. He moved up to I don’t- or Charlotte, or one of them. North Carolina, somewhere up there. He was staying up there, and he often would come down and do concerts at the church, and come stay with us for two or three weeks. He had it wrote up in his will, to give me all of his equipment, all his stuff, he was really- He tuned in a open E tuning.

Robert Stone:

But, he played a Spanish-type guitar? (standard fretted guitar)

Glenn Lee:

Right, right.

Robert Stone:

With an open E tuning?

Glenn Lee:

Right, right. An open E tuning. He always just used this. Instead of having to use chords, he just used this-

Robert Stone:

Bar. Yeah-

Glenn Lee:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

A lot of guys do that.

Glenn Lee:

He was a great, great singer. He’s not the … This Blue and the other Blues are not related. I don’t think they are. If they’re related, they’re related by marriage, like that.

Robert Stone:

Now, where were you born? Then, what’s your birthdate? Let me get this.

Glenn Lee:

My birthday is March 11th. Matter of fact, my birthday is Friday.

Robert Stone:

All right.

Glenn Lee:

3-11-68.

Robert Stone:

Where were you born?

Glenn Lee:

I was born right here, in Miami. I was born and raised right here, right here in Miami. I live in Richmond Heights. I know you probably know about Richmond Heights?

Robert Stone:

I know all about it.

Glenn Lee:

I was born and raised right there. How I got my music background, was again, on both sides of my family. On my father’s side of the family, his name is Robert E Lee. His uncle, which is Uncle Willie Blue, played music. Different ones on his side of the family, but the big one on my father’s side was Uncle Willie Blue. He is known all over, and he did a lot of … He was showing us stuff, as little boys coming up as far as the Spanish guitar. Just showing us the basic 1-3-5 (I-IV-V) changes. Then, on my mother’s side of the family, that I start from my Uncle Lorenzo as well. Bishop Lorenzo Harrison, and he’s my uncle. My mother’s mother is his sister, so my grandmother and him were sisters. He would often come down. Like I said, he-

Robert Stone:

Where did Bishop Harrison live?

Glenn Lee:

All right, he was born … He was originally born in Ocala, Florida. All of them right there are from Ocala. What happened is that Bishop Jewell, her name was Bishop McCloud back then. She took him at an early age, because it was 10 of them. It was 10 children back then. I guess, times were hard, or whatever. Bishop Jewell would often come around and travel. She asked my great-grandmother, which is their mother, her name was … I don’t know. They used to call her Big Momma, grandma Big Momma. She had asked for Lorenzo, asked can she keep Lorenzo. She was trying to get her church established, and Lorenzo always played music from a very young age. She wanted to just help her out, and stay with her then. Lorenzo went with her from age, I think 11 or 12. She started to raise him, and-

Robert Stone:

That was still in Ocala?

Glenn Lee:

That was still in Ocala. When she pulled him out from Ocala, he was about 11 or 12. From there, I don’t know where they went. I think, they went up to Greenville.

Robert Stone:

South Carolina?

Glenn Lee:

No. Green in Florida. Is there such a place?

Robert Stone:

Green?

Glenn Lee:

Green something. Greenville Florida?

Michael Stapleton:

Don’t ring a bell with me. I’ll have to look it up on the map, just to see if there’s …

Robert Stone:

But, it was still up in North Florida?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. Yeah, it was in North Florida. Then, from there, after that they moved on to different places.

Robert Stone:

Was he playing … Did he play in Ocala? Did he play still?

Glenn Lee:

As a young boy, yes, yes.

Robert Stone:

He did? In that same church, where-

Glenn Lee:

No. That was-

Robert Stone:

Henry Nelson was?

Glenn Lee:

No. That wasn’t established back then. That church was not established then. That church didn’t get established until … I don’t remember the year, but his brother which was my pastor, MJ Harrison. Marshall James Harrison, which was his oldest brother. Marshall James Harrison started that church back in 1940 … I don’t remember-

Robert Stone:

Talking Ocala, number two?

Glenn Lee:

Right, Ocala number two out there- Ocala and Mt Canaan. All that was tied in with Aubrey’s grandfather, Bishop Nelson. All them started that work at the same time, right there in Ocala. All of them was Ocala. They started up the church back then, but Lorenzo was gone. When they started up that church, he was already gone with Bishop Jewell, and they was much older than him. He would often come down and show us things on the steel guitar, or show me. I was very young then, about eight or nine. He would come down and show me something. He had an eight-string Fender, eight-string Sho-Bud, and he had a triple neck Sho-Bud that he played on.

Robert Stone:

He mostly played eight-string guitars?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. He mostly played an eight-string guitar. A lot his guitars … That was back then, but as he got older or whatever, a lot of the guitars were custom made. Like, the one that they play on now, that they travel with, that was his guitar that he had custom made.

Robert Stone:

That who plays on?

Glenn Lee:

That, Ronnie. Ronnie is one of the other steel players. The one who played the Spanish with Sonny?

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Glenn Lee:

Short fellow?

Robert Stone:

Right. From-

Glenn Lee:

Jewell Dominion. Right, right.

Robert Stone:

He played steel also?

Glenn Lee:

Right, he played steel also. See, all of them trained under Bishop Harrison. Bishop Harrison played the steel guitar, and all of them, Sonny Treadway, Ronnie Mozee, Bishop Harrison’s grandson, Uncle Mill playing. All of them play Spanish guitar under Bishop Harrison, and he always played the steel. As he got older in his last five years, he would often let them play because of his hands, arthritis in his hands and stuff.

Robert Stone:

When did he die?

Glenn Lee:

He died in 1986. He died in 1986. He was on the kidney machine for about 15 years, and so he really lasted a long time. He just ate them all up.

Robert Stone:

He was really an influential guy to Jewell Dominion?

Glenn Lee:

Oh, yeah. He was an assistant overseer. He was the-

Robert Stone:

Next to the top?

Glenn Lee:

Right, right, right. He was next to the top person, in the Jewell Dominion. He built that with Jewell Dominion. He set up works, he set up churches. He was assistant bishop. Now, this is from the original, where in the Keith Dominion you have the founder, Mother Tate. You had Mother Tate, who has founded the church. Then, you had Bishop Keith, the lady who I just showed you. She was the next chief overseer. Then, you had this guy named Bishop Jenkins, he was there. Then, you have Elliot. Elliot is the fourth administrator.

Robert Stone:

How long has Elliot been in that position?

Glenn Lee:

He’s been in there since ’90, so it’s been four years.

Robert Stone:

It was pretty new?

Glenn Lee:

Right, right. He’s very new. The thing with Jewell, it’s way down there at the Mother Tate. She’s way back here with Bishop Keith, way back, and so is Bishop Harrison. He is the second one, compared to Keith Dominion. They had-

Robert Stone:

Fourth?

Glenn Lee:

… they in their fourth one. He was the second, but now his daughter which is Bishop Manning’s, is the third one.

Robert Stone:

I met her.

Glenn Lee:

Right, right, right. That’s my cousin.

Robert Stone:

She’s your cousin?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Bishop Manning?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. That’s Bishop Harrison’s, Michael Lorenzo’s daughter. It was passed right onto his daughter.

Robert Stone:

Let me ask you. How about the Lewis Dominion? Is there-

Glenn Lee:

I don’t-

Robert Stone:

… steel playing in the Lewis Dominion?

Glenn Lee:

Not much. From what I heard … Now, how did Lewis Dominion tied in- How the church split was, back after Mother Tate died, the founder of the organization, the church was founded back in 1903. After she died, I forgotten, in the early ’20s, it was her son, I forgot his name, Philips Lewis. He was a Lewis. You had Bishop Jewell. Well, she wasn’t Jewell back then. She was married to one of her sons. Bishop Mother Tate had three sons, I forgot their names. Jewell was married to one of her sons. Jewell was married to one of her sons. You had her son, Lewis, and then you had Keith which was her daughter, something like that. I may be wrong, I’m just going off of history from my head. How the church split, was after she passed all of them felt like they should have been overseer-

Robert Stone:

Right, and they couldn’t settle it?

Glenn Lee:

Right, so they couldn’t settle it. It went to court, and all that stuff. They decided that you just have three different Dominions. You have the Jewel Dominion, which was the daughter-in-law. You have the Lewis Dominion, which was the son. Then you have the Keith Dominion, which was the daughter-in-law or something like that. That’s how they had the three splits. Now, the steel … Lorenzo Harrison started the steel guitar in House of God church, at any Dominion. He started the steel guitar.

Robert Stone:

Well, how about Willie Eason?

Glenn Lee:

Now, Willie Eason … Now, as far as Keith Dominion, as far as Keith Dominion, Willie Eason was one of the first ones. He was the first one.

Robert Stone:

In the Keith?

Glenn Lee:

Right, in the Keith, but I’m talking before they even split.

Robert Stone:

Before they split?

Michael Stapleton:

Willie’s brother?

Glenn Lee:

I don’t know about it.

Robert Stone:

Truman? Truman?

Michael Stapleton:

I don’t know.

Robert Stone:

Well, I don’t think he ever played in church, really.

Glenn Lee:

I don’t know about him. I know that … Before the split, it was Harrison.

Robert Stone:

Harrison?

Glenn Lee:

Right. See, Harrison’s style of music was just original, it was all of his own. Then, when they had the split everything went they own separate ways. You know?

Robert Stone:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Glenn Lee:

It really wasn’t no steel guitar until Eason came along playing. He was playing here in Florida, because when the church split, the first work they got started, and really, the Keith Dominion in Florida was in Ocala. The first work in Florida. Now, in the Keith Dominion they had work in [Greenville], Alabama, and in different places like that. I’m talking about in the state of Florida. The first work that started in Florida, if my memory serves me correctly, started in Ocala. I guess, or somewhere in North Florida. That’s how Eason came in the picture, he started playing. From-

Robert Stone:

He was traveling the east coast, right up-

Glenn Lee:

Right.

Robert Stone:

… and down-

Glenn Lee:

… Right.

Robert Stone:

… with Bishop Lockley?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, and the Bishop Lockley them, and all that stuff. Bishop Lockley was part of Keith and Jewell Dominion. He would often tie between the two Lockley would. From what I was told, Willie Eason would come and play. He would play, and then after that Nelson started playing, because Nelson’s father was the bishop, and all that stuff at that time. You had that style, that Nelson style of playing in the east coast of Florida, so Keith Dominion in Florida. Now in Florida, that’s all they knew until I came along. All these years, I say for 20 or 30 years, all they heard was Willie Eason. Well really, the Harrison Nelson type of style of playing, which is the Aubrey Ghent style.

Glenn Lee:

The east coast of Florida was known for that type of … That woogie-woogie, as they call it, or whatever. Boogie-woogie type of sound, which was very catchy to the people because of the fact it was something new, and it was something exciting, kind of punchy. It really is an exciting type of music that he played. What happened was that me growing up, born in ’68, when I started playing steel I was in the mid ’70s. I grew up listening to Henry Nelson and them. I grew up listening to that, but I was playing Jewell Dominion style, because that’s how my Uncle Lorenzo taught me. My father plays steel also, which my Uncle Lorenzo taught him.

Robert Stone:

What’s your father’s name?

Glenn Lee:

Robert E Lee. His name is Robert E Lee.

Robert Stone:

He’s the pastor of your church?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, he’s the pastor of the church. From him playing with Willie Blue, his uncle, he would just be playing, fumbling around on the steel. My Uncle Lorenzo showed him things on a steel, and then from that, so my father starting to show me, then my Uncle Lorenzo showing me. That’s how I learned it. That’s the style that I learned how to play. But, growing up in Keith Dominion … Now, down here, being here at Perrine church, I never really had to play the Harrison type of style of music because of the fact Lorenzo’s brother was so accustomed to us playing his style of music, which was my Pastor Harrison, Marshall Harrison, which was Lorenzo’s oldest brother. He was the pastor.

Glenn Lee:

He was so accustomed to me playing that style, that he really never made a big deal of me learning how to play the Nelson style, but … But, by me having to play in state assemblies, it was a unique style. My father told me and Lorenzo that, “Because you’re in Keith Dominion, you need to learn how to play like Nelson. You need to learn they style over here.” That’s when I began to listen and learnt their style of music. Now, up until I started playing in the state assemblies back in, I was about 12 or 13 years old. I was the youngest steel player to ever play down here in the state of Florida in an assembly meeting. Before me, it was just Henry Nelson and his son Aubrey Ghent that have played all the meetings.

Glenn Lee:

We had other guys trying to play like them, but they was the original. They was the only two guys that could play everything. The position that I have in the House of God Keith Dominion is what they had, which is head musician. Anytime something come up, the head person in charge could play. Those are the people in charge because they grew up down here. Now, Harry had done moved up to New York, where he would often still come every year to play the assembly. After his father died, his uncle took over bishop. His name was … I forgot his name, but Harry’s uncle took over as being state bishop. The steel kept in the family, and moved on.

Glenn Lee:

When I started playing, I loved the Henry style of music but we would also go to Nashville every year for our conventions, and I had just grown very fond of country music. I loved the way it sounded. I was a very big fan of Willie Nelson. When I heard On The Road Again, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, I just fell in love with that type of music. What happened was, I was not set- I loved the sound of Henry Nelson playing on the six-string, but I was very limited because there was only so much that you can do with those six strings. Tying in with the Harrison style, the Jewell style, then with the Nelson style. I liked that, but I wanted more.

Glenn Lee:

What happened was, when I was about what, 13, my father, 14, my father sent me to the school of Nashville, it was called Country Good Star. Country Good Times School of Music. I forgot the name. It was at the Grand Ole Opry. They offered a program. What happened, was that I remember this guy named Terry Crisp, and I met Buddy Emmons, and I had two classes with Buddy Emmons. What happened was, they taught me about the E9 tuning and C6 tuning. What it was, it was a six-week course. My father flew me up there. I stayed with some relatives up there. What it was, it was not to promise me no big job. It was just to promise me I got a certificate, saying that I completed this course. It was just a class, showing you how to play country music, and I would grow very fond of that.

Glenn Lee:

Now, in House of God we have other steel players that’s in the other parts of the state, that play much different from Henry Nelson. I have a guy named Ted Beard. He came out of Jewell Dominion. His family grew up in the Jewell Dominion. He came out of Jewell Dominion-

Robert Stone:

Would he be related to Maurice Beard?

Glenn Lee:

That’s him, Ted Beard. That’s him.

Robert Stone:

He’s in Florida?

Glenn Lee:

No, no, no. No, I’m just saying. Maurice Beard/Ted Beard, as we called him. His name is Maurice, we called him Ted. He is from Detroit. They style of playing was most different than Henry’s style of playing, because in our national church, in our headquarter church there was three main steel players. Their names were Henry Nelson, Ted Beard, and Calvin Cooke. Calvin Cooke is from Cleveland, Ohio. Have you heard of him?

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Glenn Lee:

All their styles was very much different. I’ll be playing from a variety of their styles today. What happened was, that Henry Nelson had his one style of playing, in Florida which he was very, very known for. Then, you had Ted Beard who had his unique style of playing up in Detroit. Then, you had Calvin Cooke who had his unique style of playing, and when they come to Nashville all of them … They was the three main players, the three main. Nobody else played but them for years, and years, and years, and years, and years. About, 20, 30 years. There was another guy named Chuckie Campbell, Charles Campbell Jr. His dad is a bishop.

Robert Stone:

Where is he?

Glenn Lee:

He is from Rochester, New York. He was the next steel player to start playing in Nashville. He had a very unique style of playing. Matter of fact, it was Chuckie Campbell that introduced pedal steel guitar to everybody in House of God church. It was Chuckie Campbell that started steel guitar with pedals. I say with pedals, I’m talking about pedal steel. Ted Beard played an eight-string in E. He had a unique tuning and I had that tuning wrote down, but he didn’t use pedal. Calvin Cooke had a unique tuning. He had his guitar tuned in E7. Started with the E, D, B. You know?

Robert Stone:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Glenn Lee:

Not this E open, we had a E7 in there. Henry Nelson, of course, started on the B, a B, G# E, B, G# E. Started with the B top string, in the chord of E. All of them had they unique style, but-

Robert Stone:

Now he tunes in Bb?

Glenn Lee:

Right. Well, sometimes he used Bb, D-F. He tunes you know, something like that. I was using the chord of E, similar to how he used on the B. None of them use pedals. Chuckie Campbell introduced the pedals, because he liked the way … But, he wasn’t playing country music. They were just fumbling around. They found the pedals from this guy named Bobbe Seymour, from Nashville, Tennessee. They didn’t find out about the pedals until they went to Nashville. We would go up there, and the guys would come by and hear us play, and they liked it and whatever.

Robert Stone:

The country music guys-

Glenn Lee:

Right, right.

Robert Stone:

… would come by?

Glenn Lee:

Right, right, right.

Robert Stone:

They’d drop in on your convention?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, yeah. They’d often come in, and sit in, and listen to them play. From there, they just started developing relationships, things like that. Chuckie Campbell introduced pedals to Ted Beard and Calvin Cooke. Henry Nelson just kept his unique style of playing. After those four guys played and Chuckie Campbell played Nashville, from the Chuckie Campbell generation down, so that’s Chuckie Campbell, Calvin Cooke, Ted Beard or Maurice Beard, and Henry Nelson. From them four guys down, they played in Nashville. Chuckie worked as a standby guy. He didn’t play as much as Henry and them, because Henry and them are much older. All of them are in they 50s. Calvin Cooke is like 50, maybe 50. I don’t know how old. Maurice is maybe in his late 50s. I don’t know how old Henry. Henry is probably in his late 50s also. Chuckie is about 38, 36, so he’s about a 10, 12-year gap now.

Glenn Lee:

Then, after they played … They was playing for a while. I was getting very known down here in Florida for my unique style. What happened, when I came back from school, from Nashville, now granted I’ve been studying up there with all them guys. What I brought back down here, I stop playing like Henry Nelson, and I started playing country music in church. If you can imagine from the Aubrey Ghent, from the Aubrey Ghent type of stuff, “Know when the saint …” To picking up pedal guitar, people really didn’t like it. They’d go, “What are you doing? You know, you don’t play like that down here.” You know?

Robert Stone:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Glenn Lee:

“You got to be playing like Henry Nelson. What is this here?” I said, “Well, you have the really broaden up your …” “You have to grow a little bit.” I wasn’t trying to take nothing away from Henry and them, because they was doing great work, but I felt me being a younger person at the time, for me to move on. I wanted to progress. I wasn’t satisfied with just being there. I was into the pedals. Bishop Elliott, he was … Well, even before Bishop Elliott. Nelson, Bishop Nelson, he had no problem with the music. The young people loved it. People started requesting for me more. What would happen, was that my father would often ask Henry Nelson and them, “Can I play?” They always would say no. They was the main people in charge. “I’m not going to let this little 13, 14-year-old kid come in here and play. Hey, no way.”

Glenn Lee:

What happened was, that we had an assembly down at our church, and one night it was … I think, it was on a Tuesday night. They hadn’t got here yet, so that was my big chance. I got in playing, and had a great time. Since then, for four years I was playing in all the assemblies.

Robert Stone:

When was that assembly? Do you remember what year?

Glenn Lee:

That was back in ’80, 1980 or ’81.

Robert Stone:

When did you go to steel guitar school?

Glenn Lee:

I went to steel guitar school, I was-

Robert Stone:

’79 or something like that?

Glenn Lee:

… probably ’78. ’78, ’79, or something around there. I went up there and studied with Buddy Emmons and Terry Crisp. I have their albums and stuff.

Robert Stone:

Yeah?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

They’re good players.

Glenn Lee:

You heard them before?

Robert Stone:

Oh, yeah.

Glenn Lee:

I learned a lot from them. They was amazed because of the fact I was … Back then, being as young as I was, being interested in the pedal steel guitar, and being Black, that was very unique. They was amazed at what I knew how to do already on the just open E-

Robert Stone:

Now, have you had musical training? You know your theory, and all that other?

Glenn Lee:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

I know, you … As I recall, you’re a pretty sophisticated keyboard player too?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. Well see, God blessed me with talent to play all the instruments by ear. What happened with that, my father … For the Spanish guitar, Uncle Blue would come down again. He would come down and show us stuff on the open E, but when I was in 4th or 5th grade, a kid was bringing some book to school because they was offering an after school program of music. I was telling my daddy, “That’s not how they teach you in school, how to play on the open E. They teach you the the regular tuning.” He stared sending me to school. I went to school about six months, to this placed called Carroll’s Music.

Robert Stone:

Sure.

Glenn Lee:

I went often then. You know, Carroll, with Mike and Ron, and them up there? I studied with them when I was … I was-

Robert Stone:

I think, it was Bird Road. Right?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, Bird Road. Yeah, studied with them for about six months. I forgot the guy’s name John something.

Robert Stone:

You learned to read and-

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. I started on my notes on the Spanish guitar, getting away from the Uncle Blue type of style of play. Learned the correct way of playing, and stuff like that. That started me with my Spanish guitar. With the bass guitar, I just picked that up. Then, with the steel guitar, from my uncle, and then when my dad showed me, then I went to school. That started happening. My sister, Robin, she’s my older sister. She played piano. My father sent all the girls to school. I have eight sisters and brothers. I have three sisters and five brothers. One of my brother passed in 1978, so I have four brothers and three sisters.

Robert Stone:

Are your brother is going to be playing bass today?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. One of my brothers is going to be playing bass, that’s Alvin. He’s right above me.

Robert Stone:

He’s got that six-string bass?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, he got that six-string Tobias. Yes, yeah.

Robert Stone:

I saw that thing, when I saw you in Pompano. I’m looking at thing, and I said, “What’s wrong? Why does that …” Then, I realized it had six strings. Big wide neck.

Glenn Lee:

Alvin never went to school for bass. It was just all talent with him. He never studied, or anything. I never went to school for bass, or anything.

Robert Stone:

How about your keyboard stuff?

Glenn Lee:

Keyboard stuff was all given. Like I was saying, now my sister Robin showed me some stuff when I was … They went to school. She knew how to read music, and I also used to listen to her practice at night. She would write a song. Going, “How did it sound?” I would say, “It sounded okay.” She said how the story happened, she went away from the piano one night, and Alvin just started fumbling at the piano, and just started playing chords. From there-

Robert Stone:

How old were you there?

Glenn Lee:

I was 11, at the same time of the steel guitar, 11 or 12. I learned how to play organ. Then, we have an organ at church. I started playing for the church choir, and things like that. From there, really, it just grew from there. I graduated from high school in 1986, and I-

Robert Stone:

Where did you go to high school?

Glenn Lee:

Miami Killian. I went to Miami Killian, came out of class in ’86. I had a malignant tumor that I got before then. In junior high school, I went to Richmond Middle School. 7th grade, I was in chorus, and in 8th grade I started band. My instrument was tenor sax. I was very interested in the tenor saxophone, so I started band. I progressed so fast in the beginning of band, that school started in August. By the time of January of the next half of the year, I had been moved up to middle band, or whatever. Then, by 9th grade I was in symphonic band and jazz band.

Robert Stone:

What were you playing?

Glenn Lee:

Tenor sax.

Robert Stone:

Tenor sax?

Glenn Lee:

Tenor sax.

Robert Stone:

Now, let me pause and change this tape.

Michael Stapleton:

When he comes around, did you ever see him?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, yeah. He’s a deacon in our church, up here in Brownsville. We just left the church Saturday.

Michael Stapleton:

What about the big guy, Kelvin?

Glenn Lee:

Big Kevlin? Yeah, yeah. Him, he’s still playing-

Robert Stone:

What’s his name?

Glenn Lee:

Kelvin. We called him Champ. We called him-

Robert Stone:

You remember his last name?

Glenn Lee:

Kemmerlin

Michael Stapleton:

Kemmerlin.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, Kemmerlin. Big fellow. I-

Michael Stapleton:

He had a great, big steel guitar too. 12 strings or?

Glenn Lee:

MSA, MSA. Again, all them guys, him, Ives Hicks, all them came under me.

Michael Stapleton:

I haven’t seen Ives in a long time.

Glenn Lee:

All them came under me. What happened was, again, after I pulled away from the Nelson style of playing and went into the country music, all the way pedals. I was the first guy in the history of our church, and this was Henry … Not Henry, but Calvin Cooke, and Ted Beard, and Chuckie Campbell. They talked to me, and they was telling me I’m the first guy to have ever played strictly E9 tuning and C6. Everyone else … Chuckie Campbell had a variation of … All of them want the strum, that’s very important to know. All of them want the strum. Why? So, that you can get that excitement happening, get that excitement happening.

Glenn Lee:

All of them want the strum, I didn’t want to strum. Why? Because, my brother taught me that you got to give a chance for the other music to be heard, and the other instruments to play their part. In other words-

Robert Stone:

But, you can … You can take your C6 neck and hit one pedal, and it gets it in the major chord. Is that right?

Glenn Lee:

Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, yeah. What happened with that, was that I felt … Again, believe me when I say, I love Henry Nelson’s style of music. With all that stuff, you always go back to the strum, always. With me, I just wanted to be different. I wanted to stay strictly country, I really wanted to stay. I wanted to go all the way, so I wouldn’t strum at all. I would pick out all my chords. Just pick them out, which gave me … My brother taught me this. He said that, “You always want to allow space for your lead guitar. If you’re strumming, what the lead going to do?” The lead is strumming. You know what I’m saying?

Michael Stapleton:

It gets muddy.

Glenn Lee:

Exactly. Just, it’s nothing wrong with that. Henry and them, they often play by they self, with a bass guitar player. Really, my focus was always a full band. I have always had a full band, ever since young eight, always. I’ve always had full. I’ve always had a lead, bass, and drum, and myself. My brother Lorenzo, he always taught me how to space that out, give everybody a chance. Of course, I do play wild. Being a key to me, you have to be excited. You have to know how to be an excited player. You can’t be too laid back. You have to know how to give the parts, and keep that excitement and that adrenaline flowing. You have to be very energetic. That, I do, and I give a lot of that to Henry Nelson again. Having all the energy, learning how to do all that stuff.

Glenn Lee:

I would strictly capture a lot of the younger guys Ives Hicks. A lot of the other guys, Champ, Kelvin Kemmerlin, all of them are just fascinated over … Bishop Elliott’s son, Bernard Elliott. I have a whole booklet. I have to give you one of the books. Now, all of them are still bass, lead guitar, drums, keyboard. I would train so many guys in our church. What happened, all them guys were very fond of my style, because what I did, I came up with my own unique style. In the way, that I took Henry Nelson’s style.

Glenn Lee:

Now you have to remember, you have Henry Nelson, Calvin Cooke, Maurice Beard, Ted Beard, and Chuckie Campbell, all them played different. Chuckie played with a lot of pedals. You know how Henry play. Calvin played with the open E, with some pedals. Ted Beard played with some variations of the E tuning within the pedals. I took all their styles, combined it to one style, with my country stuff. So that give me my own unique style of play. The guys really liked me then, so a lot of them … Everything I got they want to get, everything. I got it a MSA, all them want to get an MSA. I got an Emmons, they was too expensive, they couldn’t get an Emmons. Then, when I stopped …

Glenn Lee:

What happened was, I went to a certain level in my playing where I felt like in Keith Dominion or just in your playing, you feel like you go up to a certain level where you can’t … I can always grow, and I’m going to always grow as a steel player because I’m going to always learn. It’s like, you get to a level where you’re doing everything, you had the C6, that’s the closest you can do. I just went back to basic, which was, I went back to the Lorenzo style of playing, where I started using my lap steels, I got back into lap steels. Now, all of them are getting back into lap steels. I feel like they …

Glenn Lee:

They tell me, that they want to copy a lot of things I do, which makes me feel good because I’m just … I’ll be 26 Friday, and you have these guys that wanted to try and pattern their stuff after you. It made me feel like I’m doing something right, and just like the guys who patterned their stuff after Henry Nelson and then all them. It’s made me feel great about doing this.

Michael Stapleton:

Did Ives play in church at all?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, he played. He was just here Monday and Tuesday. We’re in revival last week and at church, and then this week. I brought him down for two nights and let him play, because a lot of the guys don’t have a full band. I’m really one of the only ones that have … When I say full band, I’m talking about lead guitar, bass guitar, and drums. A lot of just have the steel and drums, or steel and the bass. They always been trying to get down here to play with me and my band, and I would let him. I would give him the opportunity to play with my musicians always. What started happening, was that Bishop Elliott, when he became assistant bishop to Henry’s uncle, back in ’86, ’87. He was assistant Bishop. He was very fond … This is even before his son started playing. He was very fond of my playing and my talent, being as young as I was, and being as they call, anointed as I was to play.

Glenn Lee:

What he did, Henry Nelson and them would just come for the assemblies. Aubrey Ghent, I believe he was in Fort Pierce at that time. He was still playing, but he was getting more into his ministry, because he’s a minister. He wouldn’t come as often. You had Darryl Blue playing, but Bishop Elliott made me head musician. Put me in a position where Henry and them used to be, and that meant anywhere he went, I went and played for him in all the big functions. He put me as the person in charge of picking out the musicians, whoever I wanted to play, and what have you. Since then, I’ve been head musician maybe, since ’88. That’s what? The last six or seven years.

Glenn Lee:

From that, I just … Like I said, I pick out the guys to play in and whatnot. Then, what happened with me in Nashville, because I came, and it was because I was head musician, and people were saying about Lee, the nephew of Bishop Harrison. When I went to Nashville people were like, “Why are you not playing? We want to hear Lee. We want to hear him. We want to hear him play.” Ted told my father, “I wasn’t going to let your son play, but because some people say that they want to hear him I’ma give him a chance.” Well, I didn’t play … At that particular time, I was playing exactly like Ted. Ted thing is, if you’re going to come as a steel player with him, he wants you to play like him. If you’re going to come in …

Glenn Lee:

It was already him, Calvin, Henry, and Chuckie and Campbell. He don’t want nobody else trying to come in with something else. He wants you to come in, I guess … Henry had a legacy, he want to have a legacy, also a steel player that play like him. I had to really degress myself from everything that I knew to try and play exactly like him, and that’s how you … That’s how I got into Nashville, and as the years went on I just started putting more and more of my stuff, and more and more my stuff, until I was one of the regular. I am the youngest steel player up there.

Robert Stone:

You play usually at the-

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, yeah.

Robert Stone:

… national convention?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. I’m in as one of the steel players now. I am the fifth steel player up there, but I’m also the youngest. I’m the youngest guy to have played in Nashville.

Robert Stone:

All those guys are there, and that’s in June? When is it?

Glenn Lee:

That’s in June. That’s-

Robert Stone:

When is it going to be this year?

Glenn Lee:

June 13th through the 20 something. June 13th to the 20th something, I forgot.

Robert Stone:

Is that something I could drop in on if I-

Glenn Lee:

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Guys come up here often, and just sit in there and record. They come in, and a guy from Gruhn’s Music, I forgot his name. A lot of the guys from the Grand Ole Opry, when they hear that we’re in town, they’ll come over and check us out. It’s a unique style. It’s unique, and we’re something different. I have videotapes from different things of that sort. You should take a look at-

Robert Stone:

Sure.

Glenn Lee:

… Nashville, and stuff like that. It will be great.

Robert Stone:

Let me ask you. Is there any women steel players?

Glenn Lee:

I heard it was one. I don’t know her name or anything. I heard in the Keith Dominion, I heard that there was one, I don’t even know her name.

Robert Stone:

In Florida?

Glenn Lee:

No, not in Florida. She’s in Detroit. She was just strumming around, nothing major. In the Jewell Dominion, there’s a couple but not in Florida.

Robert Stone:

On the size of the different dominions, all I have to go by … I know there’s … Is there something, like 50 Keith Dominion churches in Florida? I’ve heard there’s, what-

Glenn Lee:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

… 33 on the east coast.

Glenn Lee:

Right, and about maybe 18, 19 on the west coast. Almost about 50, but between 45 and 50.

Robert Stone:

In the state. Then, how about the Jewell Dominions?

Glenn Lee:

Now, the Jewell Dominions-

Robert Stone:

Jewell is smaller?

Glenn Lee:

Right. It’s not as big as the Keith Dominion. A lot of their work is not in Florida. A lot of their work is in the northern states.

Robert Stone:

I know, when I went to that state assembly-

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, that was very, kind of small.

Robert Stone:

… it was, what? 100 people.

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, 100, yeah. They’re smaller.

Robert Stone:

If I was just comparing the size of the state assembly, it’s about a fifth to the size or something like this. There might be 10 churches in Florida or something?

Glenn Lee:

I think, it’s about … Probably, about that. About, 10 churches in Florida. They’re not … Like I said, Florida is not one of their bigger states. Their biggest work is out in Philly. I’m going up there with them at the end of this month, being of the Easter Weekend. I’ll be in Philly with them. Now, by me being her cousin and by me also being her minister, I traveled for her, as her head musician-

Robert Stone:

So, you’re-

Glenn Lee:

… as one of her head musicians.

Robert Stone:

… you’re a minister also?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, I’m a minister also.

Robert Stone:

I see.

Glenn Lee:

I travel as one of her head musicians. I’m one of her head-

Robert Stone:

With Bishop Manning-

Glenn Lee:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

I didn’t know that.

Glenn Lee:

I don’t tell everybody that, because of the fact, I don’t want to cause any conflict between the two, or whatever.

Robert Stone:

Of course, what I keep hearing is that the Jewell Dominion and the Keith Dominion, it’s not much of a problem. They get replaced-

Glenn Lee:

Right. Well-

Robert Stone:

… all the time-

Glenn Lee:

Right, it’s getting closer, but it used to be a problem. The problem was that when they had to be split back in … They just kept that first. “You stay your way, and we stay our way.” That was between Jenkins and Jewell, more or less. Keith, Jenkins. As time grew on, it’s kind of dying out really. Now mind you, the good thing, what we want to happen is that everything will just want to come back together. That would be the ultimate, that should be. To me, personally, I don’t think it’ll happen because of the fact Keith to me has grown so far, Jewell to me has grown so far, whereas you try and bring them back together. First of all, you have problem with the music. Jewell Dominion, is like this … Keith Dominion, is much faster.

Robert Stone:

You know that, laid back-

Glenn Lee:

Right now, Keith Dominion … Now, this is the funny thing. Now, before again, even with the music they had the attitude. “You stay your way, don’t bring that Jewell stuff over here, Glenn. We know you Harrison’s nephew, we know you know it. You keep Jewell here, and you keep …” That was Keith’s intent, even before I got to Nashville. “Now, we know that you’re one of Jewell …” “I know you’re in the family, but we’re going to keep it strictly …” I said, “Okay.” But, Elliot don’t feel that way. He don’t like that. He writes me notes in assemblies, telling me to play Jewell Dominion. He want to hear more of it.

Glenn Lee:

That broke a trend for me, because that allowed me to go back to my original roots. I had to learn how to play like Keith Dominion, so that allowed me to go back to my original roots then, to Keith Dominion. That works out fine, that works out fine like that. He requests me to play that often. Now, I’m trying to get into it, a little Jewell Dominion, all the steel players down here. You have some, like Aubrey and them, which it would just be a dramatic change for them to try and change their style. They won’t even try and go there.

Glenn Lee:

Aubrey is a very contemporary player, compared. He’s very fast, clean. Aubrey is in my book the cleanest player. He’s smooth, clean, swift, and everything, where I miss a lot, or I may play only 10 strings compared to six, and just miss a lot. Then-

Robert Stone:

He’s got 10 years on you too?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. Again, experience is the key factor here. Like I tell the people, don’t never compare me to Aubrey Ghent or Henry Nelson. You don’t compare age and experience. You know?

Robert Stone:

That’s right.

Glenn Lee:

You never do that. I always give up, and I will always, always, and I tell Ghent this all the time. Please, always give up that respect to him, because people try and cause friction between the steel players because … Well-

Robert Stone:

Yeah-

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. “Who is a better steel player, Glenn or Ghent?” Anybody asks me, Ghent used to say, “Aw shucks … “

Michael Stapleton:

Well, it’s apple and oranges too, playing the pedals.

Glenn Lee:

Exactly, exactly. Like I tell you, you got to respect everybody in their own right, it’s what I do.

Robert Stone:

It’s not a contest.

Glenn Lee:

Exactly, exactly, exactly. I have always been taught you always give respect to the senior player, and Ghent done been playing much longer than me, even though I’m head musician now, I will always give it up to Ghent. You just do that, even when his father comes down. Some people would suggest that I should do them like they did me. “No, I ain’t letting him play.” All that type of stuff, but you don’t do that. I wasn’t taught like that. You never forget the bridge that brought you over. They did great work here, they’re still doing great work here. You don’t push them out to the side, you just don’t push them out.

Glenn Lee:

If 30 years from now, and God forbid, something should happen to them, I still want to keep that here. That Nelson style will always be here, because always. That’s very important, and Ghent, I tell him that all the time. He knows when he comes here, but you have a guy named Darryl Blue that won’t give up to Gent. I don’t know if you ever heard of Darryl Blue?

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Glenn Lee:

Yeah? Because, of the fact, he played just like them. He played exactly like them, so he would often … He’s one of the main players. Me and him is the two main players out here, because Ghent is really not on the … He’s on the west coast really, but whenever Ghent comes I’m like, “You got to get up. You have to let Ghent play.” When his daddy come in, when Henry come in I’m like, “Hey. Henry is here, so I get up and you get up.” You have to give respect, that’s how I feel about it. They appreciate that. Ghent and Nelson, they appreciate that. They always thank me for having that type of open spirit about it. It’s just guys who played before me, I just don’t feel I can just push them to the side. Whenever Henry Nelson, Ted Beard, and even oldest players come down here, you always give up your seat. I don’t care how big of a meeting, or unless the bishop say different. You know?

Robert Stone:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Glenn Lee:

See, that’s the thing about the bishop. He liked that about me. If it was Darryl Blue, he wouldn’t give it up. There’s been many times that he wouldn’t give up to Ghent or Nelson, because he play just like him so he wanted to be heard. With me, I would always say, “Don’t do that, that’s not right.” You give respect, because 20 years from now you’re gonna want me telling guys to respect you too. You have to. What goes around is going to come right back onto you. Me and Ghent, we had that very close relationship like that. It’s a mutual respect, mutual respect. I speak very highly to it, that we … Believe me, he’s clean, clear. We was supposed to do our Christmas project together, but he hooked up with Darryl’s brothers before me and him even had the opportunity to do some stuff together.

Robert Stone:

You got that tape done?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Christmas tapes?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have some copies. I’ll give you a couple copies before you leave.

Michael Stapleton:

Would you ever deal with any steel players from out of the church?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. I do recording sessions for a couple of different studios around here that call me when the country bands come in, and stuff like that.

Michael Stapleton:

What about … I had one kid come in the store, a pretty young kid who bought a steel. I think, he went to a Baptist church. He was hearing y’all play, and he was going to try and learn from y’all-

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, and-

Michael Stapleton:

… and he was taking it back to the Baptist church.

Glenn Lee:

Now, I’m an organist in a Baptist church. I work at this Bethel Baptist, Richmond Heights. I work there. I’ve been working there for the last four years. You might ask me, “Well, why you work there?” Because, in Pentecostal churches you have … When they are an organization as we are, the monies have to … The membership is not as big as Baptist church. Then, all the money that’s raised, you have to send some of that to the Bishop. You have to send so much off to here.

Glenn Lee:

It’s an organization, compared to a Baptist church where all the money that they raise stay right there in the governed body church. All the money that they raised stay right there. They’d be able to keep more money, to be able to pay more people, whereas our church is just not able to pay the musicians. They need to take care of the minister first, take care of the bills, and all that stuff, let alone try to take care of musicians.

Robert Stone:

You guys usually aren’t getting paid?

Glenn Lee:

No. No paid for nothing. Meaning, that for the assembly, and I’m the head musician, the top person, head person in charge, I may walk away. Now, with Henry, one thing I can say, again, I don’t get upset. When Henry come down, they take care of Henry in royal fashion. They pay his plane ticket, make sure he has a place to stay. Give him $300 or $400 to come. Where me, I’ll be there the whole week with all my equipment, and maybe get $100, which is really a slap in the face but you have to love it to do it.

Michael Stapleton:

Playing for free sometimes is better than playing for $100 bucks.

Glenn Lee:

Exactly, but you have to love it sometimes. I grew up in the church, and I just love doing it. I don’t do it, but that’s why I work for Bethel Baptist. Bethel Baptist pays me $400 a week just to be the organist, so that’s a job. I have a family.

Robert Stone:

I know you’ve been doing some substitute teaching?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. I’m a substitute teacher for the-

Robert Stone:

That’s a lot of fun, isn’t it? I’ve done that.

Glenn Lee:

It’s rough when you start, because the kids, the respect level is just not there.

Robert Stone:

I know how that goes.

Glenn Lee:

That’s kind of rough, but again, that pays the bills. Then, my brother, he and my father, we have ours into excavating with the trucking business, with pools and stuff. I have a dump truck, and I do that part-time sometimes. That’s how I do what I do.

Robert Stone:

Are you on the road a lot on the weekends, like Aubrey is, or not as much?

Glenn Lee:

Not as much because I work for Bethel. Being on the road, it’s not … Meaning, that … Being a minister, the people are calling for me to start doing revivals, and start preaching and everything. I’m being very … I’m not being reluctant to not doing it. It’s just the fact that I want security right now. I need security, and I know that if I’d be here on Saturday, I mean Sunday, that $400 will be in my hand every week, compared to if I go out to do a whole week of revival somewhere. Sometimes, you may not even get that, $200. You know? It’s not-

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Glenn Lee:

… not really that secure. I’m at a point now, where I’m just trying to be … I’m just being secure right now with that. I do a lot of weddings, funerals, workshops on Saturdays. I’m always doing them on Saturday, doing something. I travel a lot for Jewell Dominion, my cousin. She called me, I’d be gone. Plus, I travel a lot with Pastor Malone, the pastor of Bethel Baptist. I’m his personal musician. He’s a part of this movement called Full Gospel Baptist. A music director for Full Gospel Baptist. As a matter of fact, a week from today they have his consecration service at 1st Presbyterian Church down in Ocala. It’s a big church out there. They have this consecration. About, 10,000 people were going to be there that night. They want me just to do a steel solo over there, have me introduce steel.

Glenn Lee:

Everybody know I play steel. I often play steel over there. I often play hymns over there sometime, and the crowd just love it. They just … But, I don’t give them too much of the steel because the employ me as an organist. I try not to combine it too much like that. A lot of the people in the Keith Dominion don’t know that I worked for Bethel, because for whatever reason. Just like I told Bishop Elliott, I have to pay my bills. If the church was able to pay for … If the church was able to take care of me, then I’ll be set for- Until that time comes, and hopefully one day it’ll come. For right now, we have to just do, just do, I guess. A man that don’t work, don’t eat, so I have to try and do just that.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. I don’t know what direction I’m going to go. As far as, I know I’m going to always be here in the church, whether it’d be Keith or Jewell Dominion, I’m always going to be here. Again, opportunities knocks at my door. Now, my ultimate goal is to be a recording artist. I’m hoping this will be the start of something where I can get me on the steel guitar known nationally, and why. The thing about the steel guitar, people tend to not appreciate it as much, because as far as gospel still because they don’t know. They just don’t know about it. A lot of people-

Robert Stone:

That’s right.

Glenn Lee:

… just don’t really know.

Michael Stapleton:

[crosstalk 00:54:41].

Glenn Lee:

A lot of people who may hear it, they be like, “What is that?” They just don’t really know about it. It’s something new. It’s something new. God was telling me, “Glenn, you just need to get in with the right people, and you’ll make a million one day, you never know. It’s just so new, that people just don’t know.” Hopefully, this will be … That’s my ultimate goal, just to get the gospel spread, and stay in gospel, stay in gospel. It’s so easy to go the other way to start. Now, when I say stay in gospel, I love folk music and it’s things like that. I love country music now. I love the blues, I love the blues too. Meaning, that … Like, a tune that I’m going to play for you today is like a little bluesy type of tune, but the blues is just another form of what we play in gospel, if you really think about it. All of it comes from the church anyway.

Robert Stone:

Are there any steel players who you listen to? Not the gospel guys, but you listen Buddy Emmons a lot, I heard?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. Jerry Byrd.

Robert Stone:

Jerry Byrd, Doug Jernigan?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, Jernigan. I love them guys. Matter of fact, Doug Jernigan heard my tape and wanted an autographed copy from me. I felt like … I’m like, “What the?”

Robert Stone:

Well, wasn’t he from Florida originally?

Glenn Lee:

I think so. I’m not sure.

Robert Stone:

I think he was.

Glenn Lee:

He heard me up there in Goodlettsville, at the Steel Guitar World. Bobbe Seymour, they had my first tape always by my side, the one you had. They are just fascinated. My tape went to the … I think you was telling me that it went to the Steel Guitar Convention. Did you say, you see it there?

Robert Stone:

No. No, I wasn’t there. I haven’t been there yet.

Glenn Lee:

Well, it’s a guy who’s telling me that-

Robert Stone:

Have you ever been to that?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, I’ve been to one.

Robert Stone:

Yeah?

Glenn Lee:

I’ve been to one.

Robert Stone:

That’s the one that Scotty runs-

Glenn Lee:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

… in St Louis?

Glenn Lee:

St Louis, that’s the one right there.

Robert Stone:

Yeah? How was it? How’d you like it?

Glenn Lee:

It was great, it was great. Back then, I was in and out. I worked for two days, because I really didn’t get involved with anything at- no it’s nice but-

Michael Stapleton:

You ever listen to Jerry Douglas?

Glenn Lee:

I never heard of-

Robert Stone:

Dobro player.

Glenn Lee:

Is he good?

Michael Stapleton:

Oh, boy.

Glenn Lee:

I probably heard of him. Someone probably told me, but I don’t know him by name. I listened to the country music station a lot.

Michael Stapleton:

You’ve heard of him, you just don’t know who it is.

Glenn Lee:

Probably, yeah. I play a little banjo. I’m about to tell you about the banjo. I fumbled around with that. I play fiddle, a little bit. Again, not knowing how to do the stuff, just hearing it, wanted to know how to do it. People are just like, “You’re Black. You not supposed to want to know how to do that.” I’m like, “But, no. Music has no color to it.”

Michael Stapleton:

That’s funny, because the banjo and fiddle was Black instruments-

Glenn Lee:

Right.

Michael Stapleton:

… two generations back.

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael Stapleton:

Two generations back-

Glenn Lee:

I think it’s the way that Lorenzo played, and the way and that style of music, it just all tied in with that.

Michael Stapleton:

Sonny got a fiddle. I just put a tailpiece on it-

Glenn Lee:

Really?

Michael Stapleton:

… the tail bit was broken. He said, he learned to play. The tail got broke, and he put it away. Bob and I both play fiddle. He said, “Man, that’s what I do for a living. Next time I come down I’ll fix it.” He put some fine tuners, and put a tail bit. He said, “Next time you come down, I’ll be playing it.”

Glenn Lee:

Sonny is a very … He’s a very quick learner. I play saxophone up there in the assembly. I was there that Saturday night. Y’all came that Sunday morning, and I-

Michael Stapleton:

Yeah, that’s right.

Glenn Lee:

… missed y’all that Sunday morning. I came back up there that Sunday night because I had to work at Bethel. That’s why I couldn’t come back to see y’all. I wanted to come up and be with you guys, but I had to work that morning, so I couldn’t get up there with you guys.

Michael Stapleton:

Sonny said he’s been playing some sax too.

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, yeah. That’s what I’m saying. Saturday night, he played saxophone. I copied him then. Sonny is the type of person, he don’t want you to outdo him.

Michael Stapleton:

Oh, yeah?

Glenn Lee:

He don’t want you to outdo him, and he’s a … I’ve been playing sax off and on. I had to stop when I had this malignant tumor, that turned into cancer. For a while, I thought that I was going to … I was diagnosed with cancer back in 1986.

Robert Stone:

You started the thing?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, when I had this malignant tumor. I had a scholarship to go to UM, almost like a full scholarship. They wanted me to study jazz, some saxophone over there. I was very in the march band at Killian, and jazz band, first chair saxophonist, and all that stuff. I had a couple of opportunities to go to UM and different schools. I had a malignant tumor that burst, and it was cancerous. They diagnosed me with cancer, and they gave me six months to live. I had to get this tumor out.

Glenn Lee:

So I graduated from high school, the day before I was going to just go to Dave Junior. The day before I started Dave Junior, I had to go to hospital, Baptist Hospital, to get an operation. Stayed in there five days. The operation was successful, but I had to go to chemotherapy treatment and radiation treatment. I had about 40 treatments of that, so a very rough time in my life. People really didn’t know what was happening because I was still going, I was still traveling, not letting it get me down. That was right before Harrison died. My Uncle Harrison died December of 1986. The moderation, he was there for me, talk to me, counsel me. He was sick, would often come down and see me, and pray for me. He told me, “Don’t give up.”

Glenn Lee:

He was trying to get me to travel for him then, trying to get me to come up there and do work for them. Now, the thing about Jewell Dominion, they take care of their musicians and the people who travel with them. They pay them. If you travel with them, they make sure you have a place to stay. They pay you money for taking off your time and your job, and they take care of you. He wanted me to travel with him, and be … But, back then I just didn’t want to do it. I was just so … I don’t know what it was. I just didn’t do it.

Glenn Lee:

After I went through my radiation treatments and everything, I stopped playing the sax for a while. It would have just been recently, back in ’91 that I picked back up my saxophone.

Robert Stone:

[inaudible 01:01:23].

Glenn Lee:

I really wasn’t playing tenor yet but I knew alto. When Sonny heard I was playing, he went and got him a sax. He said, “I’m not going to let you outdo me.” He knew how to play sax, you know-

Michael Stapleton:

Banjo and fiddle too.

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. When he heard that … Now, you know Sonny though … See, Sonny is a great player. They don’t know music theory, but they just hear it. With me-

Michael Stapleton:

Real different player too.

Glenn Lee:

Yeah, very different. Well see, with me I want to know what I was doing. I didn’t want to be the unlearned player. I wanted to be able to talk intelligent about it. I wanted to be able to even teach. I want to even … I just wanted to be schooled about music. I didn’t want to be unlearned, and that’s one thing that my Uncle Lorenzo and my father, they really wanted me to do. They didn’t want me to … Now, you can be anointed, I could really anoint you to play, where you don’t have to have no type of training from nobody. You can just be that type of person, that you can sit down and just whether it’s fiddle, banjo, or whatever, God can just anoint you to do it. But, don’t hurt for you to look at other people, learn what they’re doing, and-

Michael Stapleton:

Put your own time in-

Glenn Lee:

Exactly-

Michael Stapleton:

… to it.

Glenn Lee:

… so that’s what I want to. I haven’t got to it in the banjo, but I will. I love the banjo. I really want to know how to pick fast. I used to watch Roy Clark from Hee Haw. I used to take He -Haw when I was in the … I loved all that stuff. Barbara Mandrell. I just-

Michael Stapleton:

Well, I used to sell a few banjos to Blacks at the store, but they were always island people.

Glenn Lee:

Really?

Michael Stapleton:

They were mostly strumming. Just like chords-

Glenn Lee:

Exactly. Yeah, exactly.

Michael Stapleton:

They weren’t picking. They were just strumming-

Glenn Lee:

Right, right.

Michael Stapleton:

… mostly with a pick, and did strum chords. They sang in churches and stuff too, but it was island people.

Glenn Lee:

I went to a couple of Bahamian churches where they wanted me to play steel guitar, and they were having a banjo and everything. See, I’m like old fashioned, I guess. I’m the type of person that want to have that banjo in church. I want to have the fiddle. Like, “We want the Henry. We want that …” But, I want all that stuff to be played. That’s my dream, and I also like the brass instruments. At one point, I had a little band, Lee band, called The Glenn Lee Band. I had a tuba player-

Michael Stapleton:

I play tuba.

Glenn Lee:

Really? I had a tuba player, a saxophone player, and a trumpet. We were just practicing the stuff. I was getting ready to incorporate that in our church. Matter of fact, I used to have a saxophone player and the trumpet player, new young boys that I trained. They was playing in the band at school, and I would incorporate that in my band I made at the church. Took them to the assembly one year and he was like, “You know we don’t have all this in church.” This is before they taught it, they just weren’t ready for it. Elliott really liked it.

Glenn Lee:

From that, he put me on the orchestra, because he’s trying to get a House of God orchestra. Now, I used to play in House of God orchestras that they had up in Nashville. They used to have horn players, members of the church, from different parts of the states that were coming. I was the youngest saxophone player then, playing at 14, 15 years old. I’ve always been in some type of music.

Robert Stone:

How about Daddy Grace’s guys? Are you familiar with them, in the House of Prayer?

Glenn Lee:

Aubrey Ghent was telling me about them. I never heard of him.

Robert Stone:

It’s all brass and a lot of trombones, a lot of trombones-

Glenn Lee:

Aubrey Ghent was actually telling me about Daddy Grace. I said, “I would like to meet him, or hear something of him.” I never heard of him, but Aubrey Ghent was trying to explain it to him.

Robert Stone:

They’re going to be on that program that he’s on up at-

Glenn Lee:

Yeah-

Robert Stone:

I was going to go up there, but I can’t find a plane that’s cheap enough. That’s one bad thing about living in Gainesville.

Michael Stapleton:

I don’t know-

Robert Stone:

You can’t get a direct flight to anywhere. I would have to go to Tampa, and then change planes in Atlanta. They make it so hard, I gave up on that. I wasn’t planning on going. Well, we can … What time are you musicians going to show up?

Glenn Lee:

Probably, about 11:00, 11:30. Well, I don’t think they’re there yet, but I’m going to call them to see.

Robert Stone:

They’re going to just show up at the church?

Glenn Lee:

Yeah. Yeah, they’ll meet me over there.

Robert Stone:

Let me shut this off.

 

 

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