Live from 305: Listen to folk and jazz musician Shira Lee

Miami-based artist Shira Lee is something of a Renaissance woman.

She is a folk and jazz musician in several different bands, an actress and a writer, playing a starring role in the recently released web-series GROWN, which follows the story of two young Haitian-American men making their way through Miami. Lee is also the idea behind the “Babawagon”, a mobile performance space here in South Florida funded by the Knight Foundation.

On Sunday, September 23, Lee will perform at the Homegrown Music Festival at the University of Miami. Lee spoke with Sundial’s Luis Hernandez as part of the second season of the WLRN and WLRN Sundial segment featuring local musicians called Live From The 305. She began by explaining the appearance of the “Babawagon”.

WATCH SEASON 1 LIVE FROM 305 HERE.

LEE: In very simple and understandable terms, it [the Babawagon] is a wooden box built on a trailer bed with wheels, and one of the walls of the wooden box folds out to create a stage. So it opens up and there’s a band inside playing.

WLRN: Is it just for singing, playing and any type of performance?

It’s for everything and everything that I feel. It’s a space that you can really use for whatever you want to do. It’s for music, theater and dancing, but it could also be turned into a flea market or you could turn it into a store like a pop-up store if you wanted.

You mentioned performance on the wagon. You are also an actress and you were one of the characters in the recently released web series GROWN about life in Miami. Tell us a bit about your character, who plays Wes’ girlfriend.

Okay, so her name is Lana and she’s just one of Wes’ girlfriends. She’s more of a friend with benefits, if you want to call it that. She is not far from me. I think it was kinda written based on me. She’s a musician. She’s an artist. She’s fun, she’s free, and she’s comfortable with her body. She’s definitely in love with Wes, so we’ll see how that goes. Check it out on Complex.com.

You wrote a song that we hear in one of the episodes. Tell us about the song and the story behind the song “Banjo Man”.

I wrote this song for the show and since the show is about Josh going through this and not really growing up with a father figure, so I had that in mind when I wrote the song. “Banjo Man” is about me reassuring this guy that even though he didn’t have a good example growing up, even though he doesn’t act like a man now that he’s somewhere deep inside and that he will be able to find it one day.

I want to go back to the wagon. How well does the wagon bring all of these aspects of your life together into one.

It’s a good one because it’s a platform for music, theater, dance, and every kind of art you can imagine. It’s a platform not just for me. The idea is to present a panel of artists from all walks of life. It’s a place and it’s a theater where we are open to presenting original artists. That’s the idea. This is where all the arts converge in this theater.

Watch Shira Lee in studio performance.