Lem began his career in graduate school as a guitarist and vocalist in Paradise lost and Regained a work created by Dr. Eva Jessey—the acclaimed choral director for George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Lem also appeared with Dr. Jessey in a CBS “Special Segment” and became a soloist in the Dr. Eva Jessey Choir before embarking on his solo career. Drawing upon his academic experience and his background in contemporary music, Sheppard created a unique performance style and a vibrant brand of traditional music. He has the ability to move seamlessly from music spanning the discovery of the spiritual to the jazz age. Audiences of all ages engage with Lem’s modern take on traditional music interspersed with folklore, storytelling, and history. He composed and performed the soundtrack to the PBS documentary Black White & Brown, has received awards from The Kansas Folklore Society as well as The Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame and was a National Finalist in the Telluride Acoustic Blues Challenge. Lem performed in South Africa at the Interational Eisteddfod, toured Brazil under the auspices of the US Embassy and a Congressional Committee selected him to represent Kansas at the Kennedy Center on the Millennium Stage. From 2001 to 2013 lem performed school shows across the United States. He presented nearly 200 school shows in over 40 states per year. In 2017 Lem received the Meritorious Achievement Award from his Alma Mater, Pittsburg State University at Pittsburg Kansas.
Program Descriptions for in-state concerts
Kansas History and the Harlem Renaissance
The booming, experimental period in American history known as the Harlem Renaissance exposed world to the flourishing arts, culture, and intellect of African Americans. But it was also a time of struggle, when white society failed to respond to issues of civil rights and social equality. Could art produced by African Americans primarily for African Americans succeed where politics, religion, and the courts failed? It was a tall order, but not for residents of Harlem, New York, where young Black men and women with college degrees worked and lived. This generation was determined to chart a new course far beyond their parents and grandparents, many who had been enslaved. Using jazz, blues, spirituals, and poetry, this presentation will span the 1920s and explore the contributions of Kansas artists who answered the call to this unmistakable moment. Presented by Lem Sheppard.
The Pursuit of Music 1860-1920 African Americans in Kansas
The musical activities of African Americans from about 1860 to 1920 are part of an untold story in Kansas history. They were active in; string bands, mandolin quartets, cornet bands, orchestras and as itinerant musicians and jubilee singers. They performed at venues in many cities as well as in private homes of the elite and “furnished” music for; barn dances, fairs, weddings and civic events. Lem Sheppard will be presenting a program of this music taken from the pages of Kansas history. Some of the songs will be familiar as they were popular songs of the day, but the people and places are a unique chapter in Kansas history.
"This was an excellent program and far exceed my expectations. Mr. Sheppard did a wonderful job of talking about how Kansas artists influenced music and literary works from the 1850’s to the 1920’s and the use of songs throughout the presentation only added to the effectiveness of the program. He was incredibly knowledgeable and personable and was able to answer all questions the audience had. The audience was incredibly impressed and appreciative of his driving to Goodland and his presentation."
Coming soon, Lem will be producing new mini programs for online audiences. They will be updated monthly and you can feel free to download and share them. You can also support these efforts through paypal.me/lemlive Just click on the VIDEO menu
Funding for Kansas and MAAA touring
The Kansas Humanities Speaker Bureau will include Lem on its roster of presenters
Kansas City Kansas and Kansas City Missouri School
Fee support avaiable for MO. NE. AR. TX. Through MAAA