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This World Spotlight was created on Mar 23, 2015 @ 12:40:18 pm

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At least she has a good excuse for not getting enough sleep!

Mar 24, 2015 @ 10:59pm

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Youth No Time to Sleep

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No Time to Sleep

By Rege Behe

Jessica Lee is a lawyer, an acclaimed singer and an ardent volunteer.

There's one minor drawback to having so many interests: She has no time to sleep.

"There are probably not many hours in a day when I'm not working," Lee says, laughing. "That's the honest-to-God's truth. They say if you do anything entrepreneurially, be prepared to work overtime all the time. And I do, but it's a labor of love."

Lee's passion for charitable work centers around her concern for underprivileged and at-risk youths. In conjunction with Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation, Lee is co-founder of the America's Arts & Music Crossroads Center, which connects artist and musicians with children. She also is a co-founder of a jazz and American music camp for at-risk children with Sean Jones, the noted trumpet player and educator, and James Johnson, Ph.D., of the Afro-American Institute.

"I sought (Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation) out years ago and wanted to partner with them to do all kinds of creative programming for underprivileged youth," she says. "In a large part because so many young people aren't getting the opportunity to study with creative professionals."

That network includes artists and professionals who work with children from more than 30 non-profit organizations. Youths who enter the program are introduced to and learn from musicians, writers, dancers and other creative professionals.

"As the kids get older we turn it into career coaching and career internships," Lee says, noting that cutbacks in school funding for the arts makes the Crossroads Center's mission even more critical for children who dream of working in the creative arts.

Lee, a native of Franklin, Venango Country, attended the Duke University School of Law intent on learning how to navigate the complex legalities of the music business. Her career as a versatile singer well-versed in jazz, the blues and R&B has allowed her to perform on stages across the country. As an entrepreneur her musical production company, ViveVenture, LLC, allows Lee to control her music.
While her musical talents are obvious, Lee's desire to contribute to the community is what truly sets her apart. In addition to her work with Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation, Lee has lent her talents to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure. She's also part of a group (that includes former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris) intent on renovating the historic Crawford Grill jazz club in Pittsburgh's Hill District.

What makes Lee so passionate that she works all day, every day?

"For me personally, faith and spirituality do play a role in all of my areas of work: music performance, education, and non-profit program productions," Lee says. "Serving others with my God-given gifts and leaving this world better than when I appeared in it are both important to me."

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