HE HAS been writing and playing music for the best part of five decades.

Lee Desty starting writing songs at the age of 14, using what he describes as an “almost unplayable” acoustic guitar from Woolworths.

Now 63-year-old Lee, of Totton, is celebrating the highlight of his musical career.

He has won the highly-competitive folk section of the Hollywood Songwriting Contest after beating some of the best musicians in the US.

It is the first major competition win for Lee, a former Daily Echo journalist and BBC TV news editor.

He said: “It’s fantastic to have your work recognised in this way by top professional music industry judges in the US.

“Always Reminders is song about the images and emotions experienced by going through family photo albums.

“It’s very much an English song but from the feedback I get I know it’s connected with internet radio listeners in the US and Canada.”

Lee recorded the winning song with fellow Hampshire musician Dave Phillips at the White Room Studios in Southampton.

He heard about his victory while attending a songwriting workshop run by Boo Hewerdine, lead singer of indie band The Bible, and US Country and Americana singer songwriter star Darden Smith.

“They were both absolutely delighted for me and asked me to play the song to the group that morning, It was quite a moment,” he said.

“I don’t get a trip to America or a major cash prize but it’s not just about the money, it’s more about the recognition.

“Maybe one day I’ll stand next to the famous Hollywood sign and say ‘I had a song recognised here’.”

Married with two daughters and a son, Southampton-born Lee reached the finals of the same contest in 2015 with another his compositions, Completely Yours.

He said: “Some people dream of playing their songs at the Carnegie Hall in New York or the Royal Albert Hall in London.

“I’d love to play at The Mayflower in Southampton or Hanger Farm in Totton.”


t: 023 8042 4503

e: chris.yandell@