Karissa Lee, born Karissa Lee Carleton on November 30, 1999 in Sacramento, California is currently home schooled by her mother, Katrina. Her father, Nathan works as a Parole Agent for the State of California. Karissa is an only child but enjoys the company of her three dogs: Snowflake - a Bichon Frise, Buster - a Chiweenie, and Surprise - a Chiweeniechon.
Karissa was born a dancer. Her aunt, Carrie Pereira, owned a dance studio for years and that's where she started her dancing foundation. She now dances competitively for Dance Elite All-Stars in Rocklin, Ca. Although she enjoys all genres of dance, her favorite by far is Tap and Lyrical.
Karissa also has a passion for musical theater. She's been in many local community theater shows since age 7. Her Top 5 most favorite roles (in no particular order): Snoopy in Snoopy Jr. at RYTC, Annie in Annie the Musical & Dorothy in Wizard of Oz at the Roseville Eagle's Youth Theater; Sebastian in Little Mermaid at Rocklin Community Theater and Jasmine in Aladdin at Rocklin Youth Theater.
From theater to the big screen: Karissa has been in several films both locally and in Los Angeles. She most recently played "Kimmie" in Petite Chardonnay directed by Gerald Davenport. She was a mean girl in "Lyla Wolf" and was also cast as Girl in Ice Cream Shop in "Too Perfect". Check out her work on iMDb.com
Karissa has also been a member of a performing arts group - Just Believe Performers in Rocklin, Ca., as well as the award winning tour group - High Voltage from El Dorado Hills, Ca. She's currently under the vocal direction of Erin Gabrielle in Roseville, Ca.
Karissa started playing guitar at age 10 at the Lincoln Music Studio (Lincoln, Ca) under the direction of Ken Hegstrom. It didn't take long before she was playing songs from her favorite artists like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry and Christina Perri. This is when she discovered a new love: her guitar!
Karissa Lee is much like thousands of girls her age - dreaming of a life as a pop star. This dream came to a reality for Karissa when she was chosen out of over 300 hopefuls at a New Artist Search in San Francisco in July of 2012. The search was conducted by PMWMusic, the same producers responsible for Rebecca Black's very popular "Friday" song! Equipped with her guitar and a Taylor Swift song, she wowed the producers with her powerful voice. She was offered a 1-song record deal that August.
"It's a dream come true", says Karissa about recording her first single - "Our Summer". She collaborated with veteran songwriter Amy Victor to write this song. "The song is about how I want all my summers to be - at the beach with my friends and my guitar", recalls Karissa. "Our Summer" is very nostalgic and cutting edge pop-country which is very much her style.
Karissa could hardly believe it when the producers offered to give her another song to record. She was ecstatic as "Our Summer" hasn't even been released yet! They loved her music style and could not wait to get her back in the studio. "Over You", written by Patrice Wilson, came to life in the recording studio Karissa-style. Everyone in the studio had their feet tapping, head bobbing and singing along to Karissa's catchy new tune. "I love everything about this song, especially the tempo" Karissa says excitedly, "I can't wait for everyone to hear it".
On April 28, 2013, Karissa, along with other new artists discovered by PMWMusic, performed at a new artist launch concert in Los Angeles. The event was held at Busby's East on Wilshire Blvd. and was attended by the public as well as many talent managers in the area. Karissa sang both "Our Summer" and "Over You" and received a thundering applause - the kind of reception one would expect at a Taylor Swift sold out concert! This little spitfire performed like a pro! Karissa gives credit to years of performing on stage as a dancer and actress as well as her experience performing with a local rock band, called Rockitt (Loomis, Ca) directed by Danielle Meyer.
Filming the music video for "Our Summer" was the highlight of Karissa's trip to Los Angeles that April. "It was super cool, but the best part was that I was able to share the experience with my friend Kaia Whitney - one of my bestest (yes, bestest is a word) friends ever", says Karissa. They had so much fun shooting the video in Huntington Beach that they didn't realize they had been filming for over 5 hours straight!
Karissa hopes that her music will help open doors for her to help others in the community. Her father, now in remission, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma in 2011. "It was terrifying not knowing if he was going to be okay", Karissa remembers the day they received the diagnosis, "but God was good and gave my dad more time with us." Karissa wants to dedicate her success to her father and give back to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and other cancer research organization in every way that she can. At present, she serves her community by serenading local seniors at Eskaton in Granite Bay, Ca. She founded Community Service Girls Club with her dance friends from Dance Elite in Rocklin and their main focus is helping those in need. The club had a bake sale in 2012 and raised over $600 to help a local family who lost their child to cancer. In the same year, they worked with the Roseville Fraternal Order of the Eagles assembling Christmas baskets and delivered them to those in need. They will be working on setting up a lemonade stand this summer to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation - a non profit dedicated to find a cure against childhood cancer.
Inspired by artists like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood who started with humble beginnings and a big dream, Karissa knows the road ahead won't be easy. She's determined to follow her heart and she knows that with perseverance and determination she will get there. "Following your dreams is not always easy, that's why not a lot of people do it. But I'm not one of those people, I'm different, that's why I think I'll make it" - Karissa. Known for her wild, leopard-print and pink inspired fashion sense and signature mix-matched socks, Karissa is different for sure - in a good way!