Lee Ann Westover has described her first professional experience with music as a trial by fire, an environment that she not only survived, but thrived in.
“I started going out swing dancing and came in contact with a vibrant music scene. It was the late 90s, right before swing became very hot. On a whim, I decided to join a friend’s band as a backup singer. Swing’s popularity started to grow exponentially, so we were able to start touring nationally within the first year I was in New York,” she said. “I learned a lot and I learned it fast!”
Now, more than a decade later, Westover has entrenched herself in Queens’ music scene. Based in Long Island City, the singer-songwriter performs with three bands and has also released some solo music. Her main project is The Lascivious Biddies, a three-woman band that has been together for 13 years. The group, which includes Deidre Rodman Struck and Saskia Lane, blends together jazz, pop and cabaret.
“We are very close and have had the time to build a strong, close relationship that translates to a solid and electric creative relationship. It’s incredibly satisfying to sing harmony with the girls,” Westover said. “Over the last few years, the other two gals have had children, so it’s also been a natural transition from our original cabaret-pop vibe into family music with the Itty Biddes.”
Besides those two bands, Westover also plays early 20th century roots music with fellow ukulele player Emily Eagen, as Battle Annies. The two musicians have more in common than just their music project though. They both work in the Weill Music Institute program.
“Working with Musical Connections has been a life-changing experience for me. We travel around the City, writing music with people who really live on the fringes – in shelters and prisons, as well as in hospital settings,” Westover said. “I’ve felt so lucky to have been able to bring music into people’s lives when they really need it.”
Westover is not just a great collaborator though. She also records music on her own, having released a self-titled, five-song EP in 2009.
“I thought it would be fun to publish some of the recordings I had been putting together at home, just as a snapshot in time of what I was up to musically,” Westover said. “It was a fun project, but I am definitely overdue for another one!”
Westover can often be seen performing at LIC Bar, which is located just blocks from her home. She has been living in Long Island City for 17 years and said she enjoys everything the neighborhood, and Queens as a whole, has to offer.
“I am really very proud to live in one of the most diverse communities on Earth, and I never get tired of exploring its neighborhoods,” she said.
The Lascivious Biddies have a concert coming up on March 13 at the SoHo Grand Club Room and the Itty Biddies will play at South Bronx NeON on April 3.