For many, the pandemic brought unimaginable hardships and challenges. For Roberta Lea, it brought a new, now-thriving career, one that may not have happened if she hadn’t had the time at home. Formerly a Spanish teacher, Lea had dreams of being an artist, dreams that finally came to fruition thanks to time, talent, and a lot of hard work.
“I think it was brewing for quite a while. I have been a songwriter for forever, since I was a teenager. I was writing songs. I did my first EP a while ago that we will probably never dig up. We’ll just keep that where it is,” Lea tells Everything Nash with a laugh. “But I was doing projects here and there, and just trying my best to keep up with the scene, going to open mics. It was always a itch that I just had to scratch. I was always doing music.”
For years, Lea and her husband debated whether or not it was worth her giving up her steady day job to pursue her passion for music. It’s a debate that might have continued, if not for the unexpected time away from the classroom.
“When the pandemic happened, it was one of those life is short kind of moments,” Lea explains. “Where it’s like, ‘Just go for it, and give it a shot. Give it five years; give it a little while, and if you have to pivot again, then that’s fine.’ And so I think that’s the biggest lesson for our generation, is that it’s okay to make a change.”
Lea began pursuing music full-time, which included touring with the Black Opry, receiving a grant from Rissi Palmer and the Rainey Day Fund’s Color Me Country Artist Fund, and releasing her debut EP, Just a Taste. To create what became Too Much of a Woman, Lea launched a Kickstarter campaign, which garnered the attention of more than 300 fans, including the iconic Brandi Carlile.
“I think it was about a year of touring with the Black Opry. I was highly encouraged after the success of my EP, Just a Taste,” Lea recalls, adding that she received a lot of encouragement to work on her first full-length record, even though she found the idea intimidating. But Lea already had received encouragement from Palmer and Allison Russell, along with plenty of other fans, which is why she started the Kickstarter campaign.
“I saw Brandi Carlile post my Kickstarter to her page, and I had already made a connection with The Bramily, which is Brandi’s fanbase,” Lea says, adding that she was shocked and amazed to see Carlile share the campaign. “It was just all of these stars aligning. It just unfolded that way, and I’m just eternally grateful that she would take the time to do that.”
Lea raised more than $22,000, which exceeded her goal of $ 18,000, and created Too Much of a Woman, a record that is likely the first of many chapters in Lea’s promising career.
“My goal with this album was to introduce myself a little bit further,” Lea explains. “Just a Taste was Chapter One .. Just as the album title suggests, Just a Taste, it’s a little bit of who Roberta Lee is. And with this album, now we’re going to get in-depth. So it’s almost like a book where you have an introduction or a prologue, and then you start getting into the nitty gritty. So Too Much of a Woman is Chapter One.”
Lea is also part of this year’s class of CMT‘s Next Women of Country. See a track list for Too Much of a Woman below, and find all of Lea’s music and upcoming shows at IAmRobertaLea.com.
Too Much of a Woman Tracklist:
(all songs written and produced by Roberta Lea, except where noted)
“Somewhere in the Tide”
“Girl Trip” (co-produced by Calvin Merazh)
“Too Much of a Woman”
“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” (written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong)
“Make Up Your Mind”
“Small Town Boy” (co-produced by Larry Berwald)
“Threw It All” (co-produced by Larry Berwald)
“Stronger This Time” (co-produced by Larry Berwald)
“Dinner,Sunset, Nina Simone” (co-produced by Larry Berwald)
“So Much More”