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Black River Entertainment recording duo Pryor & Lee are the epitome of how sometimes, two is better than one. Pryor Baird and Kaleb Lee first met in 2018 as contestants on The Voice. Then solo acts, the singers were paired as roommates during Season 14 of the television singing competition’s Blind Audition, and a friendship ensued.

In January 2020, Black River Entertainment signed the duo and the men decided on the name Pryor & Lee. They introduced themselves to the country genre with debut single and feel-good arena anthem “Y’allsome.” Penned by ace songwriters Rhett Akins, Marv Green and JT Harding, the boot stomping ode to country fans exemplifies Pryor & Lee’s fun side and dynamic live show. “Y’allsome party people/ Y’allsome crazy mothers/ Y’allsome freakin’ good lookin’ country music lovers,” Pryor & Lee, who have performed at the Daytona 500 and Auto Club Speedway in 2020, croon alongside soaring guitar parts and ear-grabbing rhythms.

Songs like heartfelt ballad “Good Ol’ Dogs and God” and light-hearted “Carry On” further showcase Pryor & Lee’s versatility. On the latter, Pryor & Lee urge listeners to “Carry on, who cares what the naysayers say.”

“We all run into a lot of folks that want to speak down to us, tell us we aren’t good enough, or think they know better,” Lee says. “This song, and more specifically, this line is about carrying on with life despite what others think or say.”  

Pryor & Lee first heard “Good Ol’ Dogs and God” in a pitch meeting. Written by Trent Fisher, Doug Johnson, Elvie Shane and Adam Wood, the song pays tribute to man’s best friend. Both dog owners, Pryor & Lee felt an instant connection with “Good Ol’ Dogs and God.” Fittingly, the lyric video for the song features the duo’s own Vizsla sister dogs Winnie, Whiskey and Remy.

“We fell in love with this song not solely based on our love for our dogs but knowing that there are so many others out there that share that same feeling,” Lee explains. “I love the start of the second verse, ‘They know all your secrets, they won’t ever tell/ They’ve seen you at your weakest, helped you get through hell.’ This line to me speaks of the unconditional love and acceptance our dogs have for us.” 

The new songs continues to introduce Pryor & Lee’s unique brand of country music and influences to listeners. Baird, a California native and Nashville transplant, and Lee, Kentucky-bred and a current Nashville resident, both spent their formative years in bands in their respective hometowns. Lee credits his rural West Kentucky upbringing for his love of country music as he grew up listening to George Strait, Alan Jackson and Travis Tritt. “The ’80s and ’90s country music was really my exposure to music in general,” Lee says. “For me, it’s pretty poignant as far as influences are concerned.”

Bandmate Baird, meanwhile, had a much different rearing. While his mother was into blues and jazz music, his father was a fan of country and bluegrass. At any given time the Baird household would be playing music from Hank Thompson, Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, to Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie and the Buena Vista Social Club. “You name it, I listened to it,” Baird says. “My first musical memory is Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall. I still have that record. I remember hearing that when I was a kid and I said, ‘That’s what I want to sound like. That’s what I want to play like.’ The guitar was my first voice.”

Baird’s parents gifted him a guitar at the age of three and he began lessons shortly after. When Lee was eight he was given his first guitar and started lessons that very day from Scotty Henson, a fixture at the Kentucky Opry known for his intricate banjo and guitar playing. By the time Pryor & Lee were in high school, both were playing at local establishments and fronting their respective bands.

While Baird moved to Nashville in March 2011, Lee would commute to Music City from his home in Kentucky for gigs and label meetings. As Lee and his wife grew their family, he buried his dream of being a musician as he had three children to feed and was tired of the doors slammed in his face. In 2010, he moved to Florida with his heart set on figuring out what the next season of his life would look like.

Several years later, a recruiter from The Voice reached out to Lee after discovering one of his videos on YouTube. His wife urged him to audition and when Baird was assigned his roommate, the men quickly became friends. While they had no intention of forming a duo during their time on The Voice where they both placed as finalists in the Top 8, their on-stage chemistry was undeniable. During the season they shared the stage twice together.

“Every single time I got on stage with Kaleb from the very first time, I’ve never been on stage with anybody where I was like, ‘Hmm, that was different,’” Baird says. “It was a lot more fun than I’ve ever had with anybody playing every single time.”

Baird and Lee built a strong friendship throughout their time on The Voice and in the years following their audition, they found themselves on many stages together as solo acts. Each time they played a concert together, the men noticed a shift in the audience.

“Every time I booked a show for myself there were a few people there, but when I booked a show for Kaleb and me, there was 10 times as many people there,” Baird explains, adding that each of their fan bases would stay for the entire show no matter who closed the night.

Both Baird and Lee witnessed firsthand that everyone in the room had a great time, as did they. Soon realizing they had more fun playing shows together than they had as solo acts, they discussed the idea of forming a duo.

In December 2019, the pair split the bill for a studio session to record “Blame Me,” a hard-hitting country tune that has a man owning up to his faults. With captivating harmonies, intricate guitar licks and a pounding beat, they found their sound and voice as a duo. Black River heard the song a month after its recording and quickly signed the men to a record deal in January 2020 before they settled on the band name.

“You pray for times like that in your life where a door will open and it’s obvious. I don’t think we could have asked for a more obvious door to open,” Baird says.

Pryor & Lee look up to acts like Brooks & Dunn and Montgomery Gentry for their authentic lifestyle, vivid storytelling and deep-seeded country roots. Not unlike Brooks & Dunn — who also formed as a duo after pursuing solo careers — Pryor & Lee has carved out a path of its own with a distinct throwback country vibe and unmistakable talent.

“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our solo careers because they helped us define who we are as people and as artists,” Baird says. “This whole thing happened so organically because I’ve sang this way and I’ve played this way forever and Kaleb’s been doing the same thing.”

Adds Lee, “One thing I think we collectively learned is we would not trade any of the last 10 years. I would go out on the same exact path because I learned exactly what I needed to learn, when I needed to learn it, and it’s prepared me the most for being in a duo now. We really know who we are, and we feel like we have a good handle on the music that Pryor & Lee should put out.”