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Gospel to Go: John Lee Sanders

Gospel to Go


Gospel to Go: John Lee SandersPerforming has been in John Lee Sanders‘ blood since he was 12 years old, the first time he was featured as the opening act for another performer. Even years earlier, he got a taste of the excitement that surrounded his future profession when a trip to Memphis resulted in a meeting with Elvis Presley’s family.

Although Sanders was born in Indiana, he grew up in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi, taking his musical cues from New Orleans’ legendary R&B and jazz icons. He earned a bachelor’s degree in composition from North Texas State University, where he was part of a school big band that earned a Grammy Award. Following his graduation, Sanders threw his lot in with Uncle Rainbow, an R&B outfit that was initially based in Dallas. Sanders contributed vocals and also wrote songs for the group. After settling in California, he and the band started recording for Riva Records, Rod Stewart’s label. Uncle Rainbow disbanded, however, when members Brent Bourgeois and Larry Tagg splintered off to establish their own group, Bourgeois Tagg. Bourgeois later worked as an executive for Nashville’s World Records.

Sanders continued to sing, play, and write. He worked with a number of different artists, among them Jimmy Page, The Temptations, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, Long John Baldry, Paul Williams, Tower of Power, Percy Sledge, Diana Shore, and Starship. Sanders has also done work for corporate clients, including Wal-Mart, for whom he has sung in advertisements on the chain’s in-store network. He also contributed to television ads for the Oakland A’s and Nissan, and other work includes writing film scores. His vocal contributions in 1996 to The Bold & the Beautiful, a daytime soap opera, earned an Emmy nomination. That same year, he appeared on Hooker’s Chill Out, which earned a Grammy. The year continued to bring accolades Sanders’ way when he was honored by a San Francisco Drama Critics’ nomination for his work in sound design. His career took an interesting turn with the 2000 release from Interscope of Mozart: Rhythm & Romance. The album is based on music by Mozart, which Sanders gave a decidedly new age spin. Selections are, in turn, reminiscent of elements of jazz, flamenco, Celtic, blues, African, and Brazilian music.

John Lee Sanders can sit in front of a piano and bring the smoke from a Texas BBQ,
A New Orleans Street Parade, and the Soul of the Mississippi Delta, all in one set.
He’s a 2007 Emmy nominated Composer Winner of three 2009 Canadian Music Awards.

His songs, voice and film scores have been heard on CBC Radio-Canada Live, Network Television, Commercials for giants of industry such as Apple Computer, Nissan & Wal-Mart.Even as he is now headlining blues and Jazz festivals across Europe, Canada and the USA, he still loves returning to his roots, which are firmly planted in gospel music.

Vancouver, BC is now the home of John Lee Sanders, a music industry veteran who is a multiple talent on vocals – keyboard – tenor sax – guitar – and songwriting.