Jordan Acosta Lee: a student singer success story

Lowell sophomore Acosta Lee’s cover image for her album, Dress Up

A yelp of excitement echoes throughout Lowell’s AP Music Theory classroom, as Jordan Acosta Lee stares at her phone in awe. Her original single, “Wasted Feelings,” appears next to a six-figure number of streams: 100,000. With five minutes left in class, she gazed around the room. Every student’s head is turned towards her, utterly bewildered and oblivious to her accomplishment. 

This extraordinary moment was a stepping stone for Acosta Lee towards pursuing a career in music.  

Acosta Lee is 15 years old, and a sophomore at Lowell High School. She manages to find time after school and on the weekends to write and produce music, as well as to constantly listen to it. Her passion for music began as a method of expressing her emotions. In the span of two years, Acosta Lee wrote and produced an album and seven singles, including “Wasted Feelings,” which accumulated over 100,000 streams on Spotify, the music platform. Despite finding her passion in music and releasing her art for the public to hear, Acosta Lee faced the pressures of yearning for perfection and anxiety around the vulnerability of songwriting. 

Acosta Lee’s connection to music was not a gradual process — she was born into a musical family who fostered her interest. Acosta Lee’s dad played a prominent role in her musical journey. She touched the keys of a piano for the first time at age four, and soon after, her dad enrolled her in guitar and violin lessons. He also encouraged her to sing along with music whenever possible. She recalls him showing her Michael Jackson’s music videos one after the other, and how she would mimic his singing as well as dancing when watching.

Music just makes me feel like myself, and it keeps me grounded

Acosta Lee finds comfort by surrounding herself with various music styles on all occasions and as an outlet for her emotions. Music always seems to console her, regardless of whether she is jumping in excitement or drowning herself in tears. “Music just makes me feel like myself, and it keeps me grounded,” Acosta Lee said. Though she enjoys a multitude of genres, her music mimics her favorites: RnB and hiphop. When writing songs, she intentionally adds a flare of old-school elements like her own instrumentation recordings, Acosta Lee said. 

For Acosta Lee, writing songs is not just an act of expression — it is also about emotional healing. During middle school, Acosta Lee experienced hurtful friendships that left her looking for ways to cope. After listening to the song, idontwanttobeyouanymore, a pop song portraying the struggles of depression by Billie Eillish, she resonated with the emotional origin of it so much that she decided to make her own song. “I just wanted to take my anger out,” Acosta Lee said. “I thought I could do it anonymously by making a song.”

Little did Acosta Lee know, she would soon create her most popular song, “Wasted Feelings.”

Little did Acosta Lee know, she would soon create her most popular song, “Wasted Feelings.” She began the song production process during the lockdown period of the COVID-19 quarantine mandate. She had impulsively garnered an inexpensive microphone and a music-editing software from a laptop to create songs. With these tools, she explored every corner of her mind and the emotions she wanted to draw from. Her raw emotions were the driving point that dictated how “Wasted Feelings” turned out. “I don’t know how to explain how exactly I did it because the lyrics just come naturally to me,” she said. 

Acosta Lee had never realized how exhilarating the creative operations of songwriting and producing were until she started. Music became an outlet for her to lose track of time. She followed the standard production process of layering sounds, adding a kick drum, putting in bass line, and lastly adding her piano recordings. “I was just producing, singing, and doing my harmonies, and I realized how much fun I was having,” Acosta Lee said. “I was so interested and focused in my craft that the world around me blurred out. It was just me and music.”

However, finding part of her identity through music was not always easy. Acosta Lee’s perfectionism often overwhelmed her as she expected excellence in the recording stage of the production process, leaving herself no room for mistakes. When writing songs, she recalls scrapping multiple attempts in the hopes of constructing flawless lyrics. Acosta Lee’s inclination for perfection was contagious and spread beyond the songwriting process to every little step of song creation she came across. She would record the same vocal pieces for several days, and still feel unsatisfied with the quality. 

Acosta Lee’s anxiety was an enormous barrier on her ability to release her songs. She became hyper-fixated on how sharing her authentic feelings through music would be perceived by listeners on the internet or the public. “What if I am being too vulnerable? What if people might not like the way I am expressing how I feel?” Acosta Lee initially wondered. 

Acosta Lee stayed in that position for a while, scared and hesitant to move. It wasn’t until her dad gave her the final push to release her song that she changed her mind. He advised her to focus on only her wellbeing, rather than peoples’ perceptions of her. “‘Nobody’s opinion matters except for yours, and [if] you just keep doing what you like, you will go far with it,’” Acosta Lee said, repeating her dad’s wise words. “And I took that advice to heart.” 

Nobody’s opinion matters except for yours, and [if] you just keep doing what you like, you will go far with it

Thus, in early April, 2020, “Wasted Feelings”, was released on various music platforms including Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube. As of September 2021, her song successfully has accumulated over 100,000 streams. After the personal struggles she faced to release her music, Acosta Lee is extremely grateful for the recognition her work is receiving. “It’s just awesome to see, and I am so glad that people are resonating with it,” she said. Acosta Lee feels that people, teenagers especially, who find it difficult to express their emotions, need someone to resonate with. She hopes that she can be that person for her listeners.  

After her first two years of at-home music production, Acosta Lee has now begun working in a recording studio and has partnered with prominent producers in the music industry. “It felt like home to me,” She said, describing her experience at a recording studio. “I have been trying to find myself more, but it seems that no matter how much I learn about myself, it is always music that’s going to be there.”  

Since then, she has worked diligently to expand her music production skills and continue making songs. Recently, Acosta Lee released her newest single, “No Space,” and her first album, “Dress Up,” composed of 12 original tracks. Her recent songs reflect on her newly found individualism and self love, a project that truly took her dad’s motivation to heart. 

Leaving the AP Music Theory classroom, the wind washes over her face, and she breathes in. Acosta Lee has discovered that music is an expressive outlet she intends to keep for a lifetime. Her current work is only the beginning of what she strives to accomplish for the future, whether it be selling out stadiums full of eager crowds waiting to hear her sing or collaborating with the world’s most popular artists. “I still have dreams that I have yet to achieve, but every day I am moving closer and closer and closer,” Acosta Lee said.