Complete Lee Jean Biography
With adorable teenage Ed Sheeran devotee Lee Jean on American Idol, the pubescent hopefuls outnumber the adult performers this season on American Idol. Despite his age, Lee Jean displays plenty of talent in the vocal department. If he can bolster his musical abilities with crowd-pleasing theatrics, Lee Jean stands a chance of progressing to the final five contestants. Among the host of finalists on the farewell season of American Idol are several precocious teenage musicians seeking a shot at fame. Between diminutive teenage pop starlet Gianna Isabella and pubescent country maven Tristan McIntosh, the competition is starting to resemble a high school talent show.
Lee Jean was born on September 10, 1999 to a large extended family in historic Bluffton, South Carolina. The idyllic town located in the center of South Carolina’s rurality boasts a growing population and a surprisingly artistic culture. His quaint hometown is where Lee Jean got his start as a musician; at Bluffton High School, Lee paired up with fellow musician Hannah Lindsey Lane to form a performing duo. The pair performed at local events and within their high school. Lee was primarily a vocalist and acoustic guitarist; he’s able to balance singing and playing with ease. Lee eventually decided to aspire to more — during his junior year at Bluffton High School, he left his sprawling family behind to audition for American Idol. Although his mother accompanied him on the initial audition, for fear that he may be rejected, Lee Jean emerged victorious. Upon returning home and spotting her son on the television during his first genuine round, Veronica Jean was overwhelmed. “This is amazing,” said Veronica Jean. Sherie Sturgis, one of Lee Jean’s drama teachers at Bluffton High School, was present at the gathering. “He’s going all the way,” Sturgis said with a smile,“They ain’t seen nothing yet.”
They certainly hadn’t seen the last of Lee Jean. Lee is a performer who has shown momentous growth throughout his tenure on American Idol. Compared to the early Lee Jean, the Lee Jean witnessed in the final rounds is a completely different musician. He cast off his creative restraints — no more Ed Sheeran crooning — and astonished the audience with a versatile and praiseworthy performance. Time and time again, Lee Jean has shown that he’s capable of growing as a performer and a person. American Idol is an opportunity like no other to gain wisdom and experience in the field of entertainment.
Lee Jean wasn’t galvanized to compete because of his talent alone. In 2012, Lee Jean lost a beloved family member. Elder brother DJ Jean was lost in a fatal accident. The family was devastated. Lee Jean was determined to prove himself for the sake of his deceased brother. “This little golden ticket alone means the world to my family,” he said, “especially to my brother DJ. I know right now he’s smiling right down at me, saying ‘I knew you were gonna do it’.”
In his initial appearance on American Idol during an audition in Atlanta, Georgia, Lee Jean surprised the judges with a soulful rendition of the popular song “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran. Lee Jean projected the emotion behind the song masterfully, but he lacked finesse and vocal control. The judges were, fortunately, charmed by his eager naïveté. What Lee Jean lacked in professionalism, he compensated for in raw talent. “You’re so cute and you’re so talented,” oozed Jennifer Lopez, “there’s an ease about your talent tonight that makes me want to squeeze you.” Harry Connick Jr. was less impressed: “You have a tremendous amount of talent, but the basic ‘singing in tune’ part needs a whole lot of work.” Keith urban praised Lee Jean’s god-given talent, but reiterated Harry Connick Jr.’s point regarding his lack of pitch. Regardless of the criticism, Lee Jean was handed a golden ticket to Hollywood.
In his bid for a spot in the top twenty-four contestants, Lee Jean belted another Ed Sheeran classic: “Runaway”. It had a few jazzy riffs that complemented Lee Jean’s smooth rhythms, but overall, the same problem of pitch was present in the performance. This issue would rear its head time and time again for Jean; despite his astonishing innate talent, his song choices were lackluster. “Whenever you start to sing something, you stop playing, ” criticised Keith Urban, “but fortunately for you, it was one of the best performances tonight.”
In his duet with famous singer Chris Daughtry, Lee Jean conquered his anxieties and emerged victorious. Through careful coaching and diligent practice, Lee Jean managed to perfect his performance by the day of the duet. Lee Jean’s talent and dedication defeated his nervous, off-key tendencies; he was smooth and sultry instead of anxious and throaty. The performance won the adulation of the crowd and the praise of the judges. “You’re a baby still, and the two of you together — I’m speechless,” said Jennifer Lopez. The captivated judges voiced their encouragement and surprise at the strength of his performance; as Harry Connick Jr. said, “That’s very hard to do, what you just did — I’m proud of you.” Everyone was proud of Lee Jean at that moment.
During Lee Jean’s bid to win a slot in the top fourteen contestants, it was becoming apparent that he was stuck in a rut — an Ed Sheeran rut. Three out of four of his song choices could be credited to the popular musician. While his performance of “Make It Rain” was exemplary, Lee Jean wasn’t brought to the forefront to the song. Fortunately, Lee Jean’s natural talent carried the song. “You have a unique style, and I like what you’re doing,” said Keith Urban.
The audience hadn’t heard the last of Lee Jean. What awaited them was a massive shift in style and song choice that left them reeling. For his progression into the top ten, Lee Jean finally selected a song suitable for his voice: “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver. “I love you!” exclaimed guest judge Kelly Clarkson, “I love that you stick to what you do, and that’s your thing. You’ve found your niche, and I like it.” The other judges concurred. “Something in your lane that you do really well — you tell a story,” said Keith Urban. Lee Jean had finally found his niche.
For his top eight performance, Lee Jean belted an unusual choice of song: “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon. It was the final product of Lee Jean’s relentless practice and development. His performance truly shone. Lee Jean was eliminated on Thursday March 10, 2016 along with Avalon Young.