Miami Proud: Grammy award winning Lee Levin credits successful career to hard work, sheer love of making music
MIAMI - What do Shakira, Barry Gibb, Kelly Clarkson, Christopher Cross, and Bad Bunny have in common?
In addition to being sensational musicians, they have all worked with Grammy Award-winning local drummer Lee Levin.
Levin is a musician, producer, and engineer, who is considered the most sought-after session drummer in South Florida. He is also an advocate for musicians' rights and has something in common with a Supreme Court justice too.
Whether he's riffing alone in his studio, or live before a hundred thousand music fans touring with Barry Gibb, Levin is more than "staying alive," he is thriving in the music industry.
From banging on pots and pans as a little kid to lessons from age five, Levin studied music in high school and at the University of Miami. After graduation in 1989, surprisingly didn't leave Florida.
"I planned to go to Los Angeles right out of college because that's where the studio scene was and that's what I wanted to do. About a month after school, I saw an audition for a Latin artist named Chayanne and I got the gig. It was with a bunch of friends that also went to the University of Miami as well," Levin said.
From there the calls came in and the work continued, leading to seven Latin Grammy Awards, one Grammy Award, and many nominations. From salsa to rock to reggae, whether with artists or making commercial jingles, most of his work is done in his home studio.
One example of many is his playing the drums on the 2015 pop hit by Banners called "Somebody to You."
In 2021, he was the musical director for the Latin Grammys, performing with Bad Bunny, which led to touring with the reggaeton megastar as musical director and drummer.
"That album he was touring on had a lot of live music and drums and guitar, so he wanted to add that element to the tour and it was a lot of fun," Levin recalled.
He shares his talent as an active member of the Recording Academy for over twenty years. One role he plays is advocating for musicians' interests to lawmakers in Washington D.C. He is also part of the band that plays concerts there called "Grammy on The Hill," or GOTH for short.
A humble guy, he credits his success to hard work and states each of his nominations and awards is due to teamwork. Levin said he isn't in it for the recognition. When Palmetto Senior High School announced he'd been nominated for the school's Hall of Fame as a graduate of the class of 1985, he was surprised.
"Honestly when I got the call, I thought they had made a mistake! A drummer? I just bang on things for a living and these other people invent stuff and do technology. And there's a Supreme Court Justice (Ketanji Brown Jackson). It was amazing," he said.
Levin said he doesn't take any of it for granted.
"I've seen the world. I've played in China, in Russia at the Kremlin, the Glastonbury Festival, and the Forum in LA. I feel like I've been so lucky to get paid to do what I love to do and see the world with my friends, and play music. I mean, what better job is there?" he said.
Levin added that one of his Grammy Awards is kept at his mom's house. He credits her for telling him he could make a career out of 'banging on stuff.'
To check out Levin doing what he loves, head on over to his YouTube page.
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