William Lee Golden Indulges His Passion for Art
When artists have down time on the road, many spend it writing songs or engaging the crew in a game of basketball, but whenever the Oak Ridge Boys' William Lee Golden has time before a show, he likes to break out his easel, lift his palette and indulge his passion for painting.
"I spend my days on the road with the Oak Ridge Boys painting, so that's where I've done most of these," William Lee tells The Boot. "They were painted on the road finding things to do during the day to occupy my time while I'm away from home."
William Lee's colorful canvases are currently on display at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville. The exhibit launched this week with a star-studded party that also included a performance by the Oaks. Bo Bice, Lynn Anderson, Charley Pride, T.G. Sheppard and radio talk show host Dave Ramsey were among those attending the bash.
"I'm on the board of the Taos Fall Arts Festival and I've invited him to come and do a showing out there," Lynn Anderson told The Boot of her efforts to have William Lee exhibit his work in the prestigious New Mexico art community. "His work reminds me of the French impressionists and I think he would do very well. Some of the Southwestern pieces I particularly love and he needs to come see the light and the air of Taos and do some painting out there."
'American Idol' alum Bo Bice was also impressed with William Lee's artistic endeavors. "William Lee is such a colorful character, so I guess the pun is intended in that when you're talking about his art," Bo told The Boot with his lovely wife Caroline by his side. "His art is colorful. It's vibrant. It's genuine and those are the same words I'd use to describe William Lee Golden. I knew him as a hero of mine my whole life, but the past year I've been able to call him a friend and it's truly an honor."
William Lee has previously had artwork on display at the Nashville International Airport, but his exhibit at the Tennessee State Museum marks the first time a musical artist has had his work on display at the State Museum. "It's really an honor to be chosen as the first country music person to have an art exhibition tied in with the CMA Music Festival at the Tennessee State Museum," William Lee says. "It's the most prestigious event that I've had for my art and all of my paintings since the very beginning are brought back together for this particular exhibition."
In addition to his paintings, William Lee is also excited about a CD project that pays homage to his love of art. 'William Lee Golden - The Artist' is a six-song EP featuring an in depth interview Kix Brooks conducted with William Lee talking about his art as well as William Lee's covers of Tracy Lawrence's hit 'Paint Me a Birmingham,' Don McClean's 'Starry, Starry Night' and the Nat King Cole classic 'Mona Lisa.' The project also features guest vocals by Sonya Isaacs, T.G. Sheppard, Mark Lowry, Kelly Lang, Jo-El Sonnier and the Statler Brothers' Jimmy Fortune.
"The interview with Kix is interspersed with six songs and then at the end, all six songs are played back to back again on the CD and with no interruptions," William Lee explains. "It's really been a fun project to do. It's the type of project that you can maybe put the CD on and have a glass of wine and sit and listen to it. [There are] some sensitive songs about painting through my eyes and having a dual career, I wanted to continue to tie in who I am as a singer and a painter. So it's been really a rewarding thing to sing songs about art and about painting."
The project also includes two new songs. "Two of them are original songs that were written for me for this recording project," William Lee says of 'The Singing Painter,' written by Bill and Jody Emerson and 'I Go Back,' penned by T.G's wife Kelly. "When I'm painting, I go back in my mind to these places that I've been and they [T.G. and Kelly] sang harmony on that particular song that she wrote for the project."
William Lee's website features his singing 'Mona Lisa' over a video that his wife Brenda shot during a family trip to Paris that included visits to all the city's great museums. William Lee credits Brenda with encouraging him to take up painting in 2002. "I used to take photographs of certain scenes and tell her, 'Boy, that's a beautiful landscape there. That would make a great painting,'" he recalls. Then during the Golden's first Christmas after their son Solomon was born, William Lee received a special gift. "She had this big box under the Christmas tree. Well I opened it on Christmas morning and I couldn't believe it. It was an easel, the canvases, the paint, some brushes, some books on all about painting and then it had an envelope with several photographs that I had stopped the car and taken pictures of, and then it had a card in there that said, 'Okay daddy, Merry Christmas, now paint us a painting, Solomon and Brenda.' It just touched my heart and I had no excuse to not pursue it."