Miami based artist Shira Lee is something of a renaissance woman.
She’s a folk and jazz musician in several different bands and an actress and a writer, playing a lead role in the recently released web-series GROWN, which follows the story of two young Haitian-American men making their way in Miami. Lee is also the brainchild behind the “Babawagon,” a mobile performance space here in South Florida funded by the Knight Foundation.
On Sunday, Sept. 23, Lee will be performing at the Homegrown Music Festival at the University of Miami. Lee spoke with Sundial’s Luis Hernandez as part of season two of WLRN's and WLRN Sundial's segment highlighting local musicians called Live From The 305. She began by explaining the look of the “Babawagon.”
LEE: In really easy 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 unfolds to create a stage. So it opens and there's a band inside performing.
WLRN: Is it just for singing, performing and any kind of performance?
It's for everything and anything I feel like. It's a space that you could really use for whatever it is that you want to do. It's for music, theater and dance, but it could also be turned into a flea market or you could turn it into a shop like a pop-up shop if you wanted.
You mentioned the performances on the wagon. You are also an actress and you were one of the characters in the recently released web series GROWN that is about life in Miami. Tell us a bit about your character, who plays girlfriend to Wes.
OK, so her name is Lana and she is only one of the girlfriends of Wes. She's more of a friend with benefits, if you want to call it that. She's not far from me. I think she was actually written based off of me a little bit. She's a musician. She's an artist. She's fun, she's free and she's comfortable with her body. She is definitely in love with Wes and so we'll see how that plays out. 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 that song for the show and since the show is about Josh who is going through this coming into his manhood and didn't really grow 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's not acting like a man now that it's somewhere deep inside and he'll be able to find it someday.
I want to come back to the wagon. To what extent is the wagon bringing together all these aspects of your life into one.
That's a good one because it's a platform for music, acting, dance and any kind of arts that you can imagine. It's a platform not just for me. The whole idea is to present an array of artists from all different places. It's a venue and it's a theater where we're open to presenting original artists. That's the idea. That's where all of the arts converge in this theater.
Watch Shira Lee's in studio performance.