(born Ryan Anthony Massaro, June 22, 1977) is an American singer-songwriter whose musical style encompasses folk, rock and soul. He was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in English. After working as a schoolteacher and bartender he began to pursue a career in music. His manager submitted a demo recording to Blue Note Records which resulted in a recording contract and an association with singer Norah Jones.
After returning to Philadelphia, Lee worked as a second grade school teacher at the Mary McLeod Bethune School and as a bartender at local music venues. He performed at “open mic” events in the area and, through his contacts with promoters, was hired as an opening act for artists like Mose Allison and B.B. King.
In 2003, Lee’s manager sent a four-song demo CD to several record labels, and the representative at Blue Note Records was “immediately struck by his [Lee’s] voice”. Afterwards, Norah Jones heard Lee’s music while visiting the record company and invited Lee to be the opening act for her 2004 tour.
The friendship between Lee’s manager and the manager for Bob Dylan resulted in Lee touring with Dylan as his opening act in early 2005. Later Lee began touring on his own and recorded his self-titled and “widely praised” debut album of “subtle, folky soul” which included vocals and instrumentation by Norah Jones and members of her band. After it was released, the album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart and Lee was named one of Rolling Stone’s “Top 10 Artists to Watch.” One song from the album, called “Colors”, appeared on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy and in the film Just Like Heaven. Lee’s music received additional media attention when he performed on late night TV shows such as the Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In 2006, Lee recorded his second album, Supply and Demand which was produced by Barrie Maguire. An NPR Music reviewer described it as having “more complicated instrumentation and production” than his prior work. The song “Shout Out Loud” was released as a single and peaked at No. 76 on the Billboard 200, and another song, called
was used in an ad campaign.