Americana duo Kate Lee and Forrest O’Connor have earned national recognition as co-lead singers and primary songwriters of the O’Connor Band, a bluegrass 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 debut album, Coming Home, which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Bluegrass Albums Chart and won a GRAMMY Award in 2017. Lee also happens to be an Irondequoit native. Eastman welcomed them both last season in a performance with the O’Connor Family Band.
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.
Rochester native Chris Wilson, increasingly recognized for his vocally driven songwriting and passionate live performances, will be featured with Kate Lee and Forrest O’Connor. Winner of the “Viewer’s Choice Award” for his performance on MTV’s The Cut, Chris was also voted “Best Male Vocalist” and Best Overall Performance” at the World Championships of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles. Chris’s powerful vocals set him apart from anyone in his genre today. His honest, emotional songwriting serves his voice perfectly, with a blend of power and simplicity. Artist and producer David Foster told Chris, “Your voice is just amazing … you are going to have a long career in this business.”
Tickets are $35 General Admission, and can be purchased at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, 26 Gibbs Street, 10 a.m.- 3 p.m., Monday-Friday; or by phone (585) 274-3000; or online at www.eastmantheatre.org
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About Eastman School of Music:
The Eastman School of Music was founded in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman (1854-1932), founder of Eastman Kodak Company. It was the first professional school of the University of Rochester. Mr. Eastman’s dream was that his school would provide a broad education in the liberal arts as well as superb musical training. The current dean is Jamal Rossi, appointed in 2014.
More than 900 students are enrolled in the Collegiate Division of the Eastman School of Music—about 500 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. They come from almost every state, and approximately 23 percent are from other countries. They are taught by a faculty comprised of more than 130 highly regarded performers, composers, conductors, scholars, and educators. They are Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Guggenheim Fellows, ASCAP Award recipients, published authors, recording artists, and acclaimed musicians who have performed in the world’s greatest concert halls. Each year, Eastman’s students, faculty members, and guest artists present more than 900 concerts to the Rochester community.