ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — In the early afternoon, she typically walks along Treasury Street, a side street, in downtown St. Augustine. Her spot is near the corner of St. George Street, and Meshela Lee is about to bless this area.
She is a street performer like no other in St. Augustine. She sings soul and gospel music with a powerful voice that commands attention.
She belts out "Wade in the Water," "Stand By Me," and other deep-throated spirituals.
"I thought I was a nobody," she told First Coast News during a break. "But God thought I was somebody... enough to give me this voice. So my goal is to cry out with musical notes."
Notes that people notice. They stop, listen, watch, dance, and sometimes tip.
Lee said that a few months ago, some people invited her to come to St. Augustine. They were going to hook her up with some gigs. On her way here, those folks passed away. But Lee decided to come to St. Augustine anyway.
"It took a lot of faith," she nodded.
She sings for several hours a day on the street. It’s not enough to make a living, but "I don’t like to ask. I like to sing for my supper," Lee said.
She’s seen her share of troubles,
"But I’ve learned not to complain," Lee noted, "The suffering is a character maker."
She’s dealt with some domestic violence and she was in a car crash that nearly killed her. It left her with a busted leg, and two broken ankles.
Yet, she still uses tambourine shoes. She said they're "to keep moving. They say if you keep moving, you’ll keep living. That’s what the old folks say!" She chuckled.
Lee learned to sing in church in Georgia.
She recalled, "They used to make us sing like Jesus was coming right now!"
Lee wants to write, have a steady income, and maybe have a car with air conditioning, but she quickly added that she's not complaining. She’s thankful for what she has.
"I don’t believe I’m going to be in this situation long," Lee said. "I look at it as a process. That’s what keeps me alive."
"As long as you sing with perseverance, sing something motivating, people are going to feel the presence of God," Lee said.
St. Augustine street singer lifting spirits