Leah Turner has a ready laugh that conveys all the joy and adventure she finds in life, and a voice with the power and grit to personify its ups and downs. The combination makes her one of country's most compelling new artists, someone with the talent and personality to own any stage--or studio--she walks onto. It's earned her a spot on Brad Paisley's 2014 tour and made her debut single, her co-penned track with Cary Barlowe and Jesse Frasure, "Take the Keys," a Top 40 hit at country radio.
Leah's distinctive voice and fiery personality make her unlike anyone on the current scene, and both are outgrowths of a life journey that could have led nowhere but Nashville. It began on the ranch where she grew up, the daughter of a rodeo champion, in California’s Morongo Valley. She was just three when she began sitting at her grandmother’s piano, trying with her little fingers to make real chords. When she was 5, her family bought her a piano--she still has it--and by 6, she had written her first song.
"You build memories around songs,” she says. “They become the soundtrack to your life. I remember driving with my dad and mom, singing along to Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, George Strait and Chris LeDoux. Country music is known for the way you can actually see the story unfold in front of you, like you're in the song. And that’s the beauty of the Nashville songwriting community--it's all about the song."
Her love of music stayed strong through lessons that balanced life on the ranch and led eventually to a college songwriting class, where her talent won her the attention of Kenny Loggins, who encouraged her to move to Los Angeles. There, she met and worked with music legends Humberto Gatica and David Foster, but the foundation country music built in her heart and soul tugged too strongly for her to remain on the West Coast, and with that, she booked a one-way ticket to Music City. Now, as she is set to release her five-song self-titled EP in May on Columbia Nashville, Leah continues to hone her craft with a clear vision of what she wants to take to the listening public.
“I’ve been able to write the majority of what we’ve recorded so far,” she says. “What we’re trying to do is to be sassy and fun and be strong and emotional at the same time. And I think we’re covering all of those bases as the songs come up. It’s about showing vulnerability while still showing strength, to lift men up but still let them know, ‘Don’t mess with us!’”
Songs like her critically-acclaimed second single, "Pull Me Back," do just that. Already greeted with four and five star receptions, the song showcases Leah’s distinct vocals as she offers listeners a glimpse into a relationship’s pivotal “make-or-break” moment.
“Sometimes pride can get the best of you in a relationship. You push away someone you care about to protect yourself from being hurt, when what you really want to say is ‘I want you to be strong enough to break down my walls and pull me back.’” For Leah, the crowd-favorite tune only echoes her mantra of sass and strength. “Being truly vulnerable in a relationship requires a certain bravery and strength. Pushing away may seem like the smartest and easiest thing to do, but it’s the moment you’re pulled back that the healing starts.’”
Then there's pure sass, starting with "Bless My Heart."
"People have always said I've got Tabasco running through my veins, and that song really encompasses that side of things. And of course one of my favorites, and one that does really well live, is 'My Finger,' which is basically saying, 'We have rings we can give back, so don't you cheat!"
Sass, strength and the unexpected tenderness found in songs like “Beat-Up Bronco” combine to give country audiences a 360-view of a woman whose talent and drive have brought her worlds away from that ranch in the California desert. Along the way, she has captivated the industry’s best in L.A. and Nashville, and with the rollout of her first chart single, she has begun the inevitable process of captivating country fans everywhere.