Updated: Aug 23, 2019
What started your musical journey?
I have always loved music. When I was a kid I tried to do everything my brothers did from soccer and gymnastics to piano lesson and singing in choirs. I began taking piano and voice lessons. I really loved it and have my parents to thank for making me stick with it even when I didn't always want to (as kids always do). Over time, it became my love. My dad would always play jazz music on the radio and even as a child I loved it. I was always learning the instrumental solos and singing a long to the songs. I loved it! This grew my enjoyment for different styles. I sang at church and in community and school choirs, until I went to an Arts High School - Interlochen Arts Academy in MI. I sang and played piano there. I graduated and went on to Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA and studied Music Business and Jazz Voice. I grew a lot and begin to really find my voice in singing and in writing. I'm grateful for those experiences as I continue in my artistry. Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I always loved the idea of writing and always wanted to be able to do it. My first attempt was very unsuccessful and so I didn't try for a while. When I tried again I was somehow able to write a song. That was my first song. It was called" Love Thang." That was in high school. I enjoy love songs the most and that is mainly what I write about. I kept writing on and off. What actually got me going was getting tired of trying to sing other songs that didn't really fit my voice. I would always work to make them my own which was cool, but I wanted to sing something that was my own. So, I began writing more and more and then started performing my own stuff. What has been the high point of your music path?
One of my highest music points was the release of my first EP back in 2015. It was such an accomplishment for me. I was right out of college. It took a lot of organization, hard work and effort and money, but at the same time it was so much fun and it didn't feel like work. It all came together so naturally from the writing and arranging, the the musicians, rehearsals, to the recording, printing copies and the funding of it all. It was a blessing. Currently, my highest points are every next gig or performance booked, every next project accomplished. This single, Teach Me that I a m releasing and my album that's on the way. All high points!
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Usually, I will hear a melody in my head or think of a lyric line. I will immediately jot it down or record on my phone so that I don't forget it, if I am not able to work on the song right then. Once I have a line or two of melody, I will add some chords to it using my keyboard. I will continue to finish up the melody and chords and then add the rest of the lyrics. Or sometimes, I will play around with some chords and come up with a cool chord progression. Then I will add some melody and lyrics and come up with a title. There have also been times where I would think of a song title and make a song from that idea. There the lyrics usually push the song along. And with "Teach Me," it started with the chord progression. I came up with that and then added melody and lyrics for the first verse. I thought it would be great as a duet and reached out to my friend a Berklee Fam, Thomas Stewart IV. He is a great singer and writer. We agreed to work on it together and he wrote his verse. We both came up with harmonies. I wrote the bridge and he came up with some more really smooth harmonies that you can hear throughout the song. It came out to be a real cool song.
Please take a moment to listen/watch Leah's video of her recent single, "Teach Me."
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
Well, there are a lot of opportunities out there now since the industry has changed so much over the years. The internet and technology have made it easier to connect to those opportunities. It is still a long process to get to be seen. The biggest challenge for Indie artists or for me specifically, I see is getting from the beginning stages of playing lower paying gigs and slowly promoting original music to getting to the high paying gigs and becoming well known. Everything that happens, you are doing it yourself. Without a team, the right connections and reach, it is hard to see good results. And therefore, hard to gain funding for future projects. Also, the fact that people aren't coming out to shows or buying music like they used to, hurts the pocketbook.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Goodness, soooo many artists come to mind. I love sharing the stage with my Berklee fam and peers. It's always a good time. They are so talented. I would love to share the stage with Kem, Moonchild, Missy Elloitt, Common, Ledisi and so many more.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Rehearsals usually go well. I organize the song list and send it out to the musicians so they can listen before rehearsals. I have been able to play with amazing musicians who make it easy. We take a few listens to the recordings of the songs we are doing and jump right in. We go through the form of the songs. We go through solos. We connect some songs together for a flow and add different things here and there that we like. I make sure my voice is good by singing out, but not straining. I make sure I get enough rest and drink lots of water.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
Off of my EP, SonKissed the title song was a bit more challenging than the others to get right. I am a balladeer and I knew I needed to have an upbeat song. So, the one upbeat song was more challenging because I knew I wanted it to be a light and happy vibe, but I didn't want it to come off corny. I also wanted to add cool chord progressions that made my ear pop a bit with a nice song form. I think it came out good. I like it.
What's coming up in the future?
I am finishing up the recording of my first full album entitled Back to Me. It is due to come out early next year. I am planning to do a small tour with it, so hopefully that works out nicely. I am very excited about that.
Where can fans access your music? You can find everything on my website.