Recently selected for "Who's Who Among America's Teachers," Lee Boice, 48, an accomplished Indian classical musician, will be judging the Secaucus Battle of the Bands on Sept. 17. Boice is an English Teacher at Union Hill High School in Union City who owns a recording studio on 39th Street. He is starting his eighth year of teaching shortly.
Boice earned his B.A. in English from New Jersey City University in 1992. He is currently studying for his Master's degree in Urban Education. He has a certification in Elementary Education (K-8) and Secondary Education. He also has an English as a Second Language (ESL) Certification.
Boice occasionally incorporates his passion for music into the classroom. As a teacher, he observed that many students claim they can not learn course materials, yet they know the lyrics to rap songs. Therefore, he decided to put his coursework to beats.
He instructs students to create beats and memorize words from their classroom materials.
Boice has had a tremendous impact on many of his students. Two even went through the process of nominating him for admission to "Who's Who Among America's Teachers." They wrote an essay on his behalf about how he impacted their lives. He was selected for admission in 2002 and 2004.
Boice said, "It was great. That makes it all worthwhile sometimes. It's a good feeling."
A sophomore student who lost his mother on Sept. 11, 2001 nominated him in 2002. The student was in the classroom that day looking out the window, and there was a view of the World Trade Center where his mother worked.
Boice, the principal and child student team all testified in court on the student's behalf to obtain funds designated for victims of Sept. 11.
Boice was nominated in 2004 by a student who began the school year very shy, but was more outgoing by the end of the year.
Boice will also continue his community involvement by judging Battle of the Bands in Secaucus at Buchmuller Park in a few weeks. Boice will vote for the winner using a wide range of criteria.
He said, "I am looking for originality, presentation, musical ability and how the audience reacts."
Selected for his experience
Boice was selected because he is an accomplished musician. He describes his music as "Indian Classical." He said, "It is slow moving. It takes time to develop."
He is trying to reach the Indian community in Secaucus and other surrounding areas.
"There is a big Indian population in Secaucus," Boice said. "I'm trying to drum up some interest there. I'm really trying to get the Indian community to a lot of this stuff because I think they will definitely dig it."
He promotes upcoming shows by posting fliers and using his website, www.leeboice.com. "People put fliers out," he said. "I have an e-mail list. The website, of course, you know I always push the website. You can download music, schedules, all the bands I work with."
He will be performing at the Havana Bay Coffee House in North Bergen on Aug. 28 at 8 p.m. It is located at 31st Street and Kennedy Boulevard at Columbia Park Shopping Center.
Boice will be accompanied by Paula Jeanine, a well-known jazz singer who studied in India. They will play traditional Ghazal Music in a jazz context. Her website is www.paulajeanine.com. Ghazal is a form of Indian folk music with a funky/bluesy tone. Jeanine adds a jazz format.
Boice has previously performed before a large Indian crowd at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. "The Indian community freaked out when they heard [Ghazal music] in a Jazz context," he said.
Boice's solo CD entitled "Sacred Spaces" contains 10 tracks. Sultan Khan, whom Boice describes as the "Godfather of Easter Music" played on the disc for free. Badal Roy, one of the first Indian musicians to work with jazz musicians in the early 1960's, also contributed to the album. He previously played percussion for Miles Davis.
Boice hopes to release a second CD entitled "Visions" in October. It will contain three female vocalists and be produced by Boice. He said, "I engineered it. I produced it. I played on it. I wrote it. I do the album covers."
For a change of pace, Boice is also working on a science fiction soundtrack for an indie film. He recorded a sound track for another indie film years ago. Boice is also trying to write music for television commercials. When Boice first started listening to Indian music he tried listening to Ravi Shankar music, but it took a while for him to become a fan in the late 1960's. His Indian music hero became Nikhil Banerjee who he considers the greatest musician who ever lived.
Boice is studying the sitar with Bina Kalavant and Kadar Khan at the Kalavant Music Center in Manhattan, with Daisy Parades, also in New York City.
Boice also works with several other bands and artists. He plays guitar for jazz/funk/fusion band Indofunk. He also plays guitar for roots rock/regale artist named Chukka Riddim and for Mark River's Rivercat band.