Lee Abramson is the Toughest Musician in Michigan. Specializing in Downtempo, he sets Rumi poetry to music: Enya meets the Whirling Dervishes. It's smart, adult and contemporary with complex layers of synthesizers, pads, and vocals. The production is clean with proper levels. The lyrics are expressions of desperate romantic love. One pays more attention to the feel of the singing and the vocals are soothing and enjoyable. It's music that's easy to listen to and easy to embrace.
Lee Abramson's life and music is the ultimate example of living what is possible in the face of any circumstance. Behind his music of mystical love poetry by Rumi, a 13th century poet and philosopher, lies a remarkable story. Abramson has had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for five years. Though 90% of ALS patients are dead five years after diagnosis, Abramson is still producing complex, joyous music by only using one finger. He explains, “When I’m writing music or lyrics I completely get lost in it – I forget that I have any kind of disability.” When you ask him to explain his longevity, he'll say "God was just giving me time to focus on my music."
Abramson is a happy man for three reasons. First, he visited his doctor who put his mind at ease that he would feel no pain and that his wishes not to be resuscitated would be honored, ending weeks of obsession over the issue. Second, Abramson applied something he learned from the Rumi Music Twitter Strategy. The strategy starts by following everybody who tweets a Rumi quote. Abramson has noticed that about half of those tweets are made by New Age hustlers. Crystal healers, aromatherapists, life coaches, Law of Attraction practitioners and the like. Not entirely, but for the most part, the ones with with the most integrity and the most to offer are Reiki instructors. He found a local meditation teacher who had a Reiki background. When she put her hand over Abramson's knee, he felt her healing power, and knew right away that she would bring his soul in to harmony, help him come to terms with his regrets, and keep him from dying in despair. Finally, his girlfriend made a sincere pledge that she would be there holding his hand at the end.
How do you describe your music to people, Lee?
Relaxing, groove oriented electronic music with jazzy electric piano, luscious female vocals and lyrics inspired by 800 year old mystic love poetry
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
At one time [I was] the bassist for an indie-rock band, [and] in 2005 I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, an incurable and degenerative neurological disorder. The diagnosis, obviously, was devastating. I really shut down mentally and emotionally for six months. I spent most of my days playing on the Internet and listening to music – I couldn’t deal.
But a musician friend...informed [me] what might be possible. He told me that even though I couldn’t play an instrument anymore, I had to continue making music. He said that he knew that was what I had to do to make some sense of the diagnosis and give meaning to the rest of my life, as opposed to just suffering. So I developed a sense of purpose for my life – probably more than any other time.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
I enjoy cooking Middle Eastern, Greek, Chinese, Thai, Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican, French, Italian, Indian, and Southern style comfort food.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
I type with only one finger.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
A musician and the first person in the world to sell pork rinds on the Internet.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
My massage therapist is my vocalist, my former composition instructor, a music professor, is my keyboard player. If it was not for the support of my medical and religious community, I don't think I could carry on.
What other artists out there do you love?
Anyone on Channel Lush on SomaFM
What does your future hold?
I am going to release a Rumi Music CD this summer