Last week, “The Voice” mentor Cee Lo Green finally cracked the puzzle that is Jacquie Lee, the cherub-faced 16-year-old from Colts Neck, a junior at the Ranney School and a field hockey ace who just happens to sing as if her heart has been fed through a shredder.
“It’s like you swallowed an old lady or something,” Green told her after Lee delivered a searing take on the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Lovin’ You?” Lee tends to grin and giggle like the teenager she is before and after her performances, but in the moment, she is transformed by the music — imbued with the haunting weariness of “House of the Rising Sun,” or the ferocity of “I Put a Spell on You,” to name two of her standout vocals.
“No one knows where that stuff comes from,” says Marc Swersky, the Jersey Shore-based songwriter and music producer who is Lee’s mentor and who recommended Lee to “Voice” producers. “Either you’re born with it or not. She has an innate ability to get inside a song.”
“She’s got a big heart,” says her father, Rich Lee. “She’s very down to earth, very humble. I think that’s why people enjoy her so much.” He pauses, then deadpans: “Her voice is okay.”