Lee and Melissa got married in August 1992, and moved to Nashville the very same week. Knowing that writing and music were part of his DNA, Lee was excited to be working for his old buddy Dave Clark at First Verse Music and writing Christian gospel songs. He got a big break early on when Brian Free and Assurance recorded one of his songs, Flood the Altar. His confidence boosted by his early success, on a Monday morning in 1993, Lee scheduled a meeting with one of the top music publishers in Nashville and took along a cassette of his three best songs.
Allowing no time for chitchat, the music executive began the meeting with, “What you got?” Lee handed her the cassette tape. She listened to the first song for 20 seconds, before forwarding to the second song. After another 20 seconds of listening, she was on to song No. 3. She popped out the cassette, slid it across the desk to Lee and asked, “Are these your best songs?” After Lee nodded that they were, she quipped, “OK…well, you need to know that my writer’s worst songs are better than these.” End of meeting. Lee took his cassette and lyric sheet, tucked his tail between his legs, and slunk out the door. He vowed never to write songs again. It was a dream-busting experience for a 24-year-old musician and songwriter.
Patrick Lee Black was born in Monroeville, Alabama, April 10, 1968, the fifth child of Nell and Pete Black. Although an outstanding junior circuit tennis player in high school, it was music, not athletics that fired his soul. At age five, Lee begged his mother to take piano lessons but he had to wait until the second grade, because that was the youngest age that local piano instructor Libby Bentley took students. A very talented musician and singer, he made all-state chorus his last three years of high school and all-state band on the French horn as a senior but his love was playing the piano.
After graduating from Monroe County High School in 1986, Lee attended the University of Alabama. With two older brothers who were UA engineers and another who was a medical doctor, Lee succumbed to sibling pressure and enrolled in pre-dentistry. A semester of calculus and chemistry brought him back to his senses and reminded him of his love of music. He graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in music education with specialization in voice and piano.
It was at church during Lee’s junior year in Tuscaloosa that he met Melissa Shows, who had graduated from the University of Alabama with a B.S. in Nursing. During their courtship Lee shared his dream to be a musician and songwriter. She embraced his dream and committed to support him any way that she could.
After the traumatic experience with the Nashville music executive in early 1993, Lee took a hiatus from song writing. He worked as a praise and worship music leader in a Nashville church while Melissa worked as a nurse. After a couple of years, he needed a song for the church he was serving and decided to write it himself. That experience flipped a switch and he started writing songs again. In the late 1990’s, a song Lee had written found its way to Daywind Records in Nashville and he wrote there for a couple of years.
In 2001, when a former college roommate called Lee about a church he was starting in Fairhope, Alabama, and his need for a music leader, Lee and Melissa moved their family to Fairhope. To take some financial pressure off the young church, Lee landed a job with Integrity Music in Mobile. Still somewhat averse to songwriting, he focused on the publishing end of the music business. Nine years later, when a buddy called about a Nashville songwriting retreat, Lee decided to take vacation and attend.
It was at the three-day retreat that Lee had an epiphany. He realized his strength and his love was song writing. He returned to Fairhope and shared with Melissa his desire to move back to Nashville and be a songwriter. He told her, “I don’t care if we have to eat beanie weenies, I want to write songs.” Melissa, who had been waiting on Lee to rediscover his dream, responded, “Well, let’s figure out how to make it happen.” A few months later, Lee signed a deal with Word Publishing in Nashville.
Today, Lee Black is widely recognized as one of the top songwriters in Southern Gospel music. He has quickly risen to prominence over the last several years with songs recorded on the Christian Contemporary Music, Southern Gospel, and Country Music charts. In February 2016, he rejoined the team at Daywind Records.
More than 20 years after a Nashville music executive’s bad day threw cold water on his dream, Lee’s song I Want to be That Man was recorded by Brian Free and Assurance and became Singing News No.1 song. The Oak Ridge Boys recorded his Christmas song Getting Ready for a Baby. An eight-time Dove Award nominee, on October 17, 2017, he won his first Dove for his Easter musical For the Sake of Love.
Hanging over Lee’s workstation keyboard in his small home studio, are two signs – “Dream” and “Never, never, never give up.” They serve as a reminder of his journey. According to Lee, “God made me musical. When I make music and string words together, I feel His pleasure.” He then added, “I am thankful for a wonderful, patient wife, who was willing to sacrifice financially so that I could write music. We have definitely had our share of beanie weenie times, but it has been worth it.”
Lee and Melissa live in Nashville and have four children; Maggie, 20, is a sophomore at Western Kentucky University; 18-year old twins, Reese and Elijah, are freshmen at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; and Anabel, 15 is high school sophomore.
“The most common trait I have found in all successful people is that they have conquered the temptation to give up.” Peter Lowe