Josh Lee was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina to a family who had historically worked in the region's textile mills or peach orchards. Early on Josh responded to classical music, whistling in conversation with his father as they passed themes by Bach and Mozart back and forth during car rides. In the fifth grade he took up the violin and hated it, tuning his strings so high he hoped they would break and he could avoid practicing or going to class. Thankfully the strings never broke, and his teachers encouraged him to pick up the double bass. With that change Josh became addicted to music, throwing himself into lessons, summer festivals, and losing himself for hours while practicing.
After high school, Josh attended Peabody Conservatory and Johns Hopkins University, intending to study the double bass and physics. However, just before heading off to college he heard recordings of the Baltimore Consort and Fretwork and was riveted with curiosity about the viol, despite never having seen one in person. Soon after he signed up for lessons with Ann Marie Morgan, and by his third year he switched majors, losing his scholarships in the process to pursue his passion and obsession. After completing his studies at Peabody, Josh spent a few years working as an analyst for a fiber optics company only to be laid off during the Dot Com crash. He decided to pursue the viol as a career, briefly enrolling at the Longy School of Music where he studied with Jane Hershey. He quickly decided the academic environment wasn't a good fit and dropped out, preferring to practice and grab lessons with every viol player he could. This decision led to memorable moments with Sophie Watillon, Jordi Savall, Wieland Kuijken, and Catherina Meints, that still inform his playing today.
Now over twenty years into his journey with the viol, Josh finds himself a sought after soloist, chamber artist, and teacher, traveling all across the world to places he could have barely imagined or pronounced growing up in South Carolina. Called “a tour-de-force” by Vancouver Classical, Josh is the founder of Ostraka, and works regularly with Musica Pacifica, Les Délices, and Four Nations, and has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, TENET, Pacific Music Works, American Bach Soloists, Orchester Wiener Akademie, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and the Boston Early Music Festival. His performances have been broadcast on Performance Today, FluxFM (Germany), Harmonia, Österreichischen Rundfunk (Austria), LoveFM (Japan), and RAI (Italy). “A master of the score’s wandering and acrobatic itinerary” (Cleveland Plain Dealer), Josh is currently planning recording projects for completion over the next year, including an album of unaccompanied music for viol.
These days Josh finds himself pulled in evermore creative directions, mainly due the influence of his fiance, singer-songwriter and producer, Ben Cooper. Ben's brought Josh aboard his ongoing project Radical Face in 2012 to help write, arrange and play string parts, and their efforts have been used in film and TV across the globe. As a result Josh grew more curious about music in ways he had never imagined before, with writing, producing and engineering becoming more and more a part of his world. In 2016 the two built a recording studio behind their Florida home and quietly launched BearMachine Records to record and promote classical and pop acts that might not find a home in the mainstream record industry. Josh lives between Los Angeles, California and Jacksonville, Florida.