Leah West – Pop/Indie/Folk Singer/Writer/Artist
Leah West: Popular, independent, singer-songwriter, multi-disciplinary artist, and award winner…. There are many ways to describe Leah West. I would describe her as humble and inspirational. Now, you might think those two adjectives don’t work well together, but I talked to Leah in great depth about her music and I listened to her name off other artists who inspire her. I began to see that it probably never occurred to Leah how much she inspires other artists.It also never occurred to Leah that she would be nominated for the 2011 BCIMA “People’s Choice Award,” let alone that she would win. Leah recalls that she was shaking right before her name was announced. She was up for a total of three other awards. She was nominated for “Single of the Year”, “Pop/Contemporary Recording of the Year” and for “Singer/Songwriter of the Year.” She made it to the top 3 among approximately 700 other artists. She was up against a 2x JUNO Award Winner in all three categories. Although she did not win, she felt honored just to be in the top 3 with such formidable talent. When Leah’s name was called for the 2011 BCIMA “People’s Choice Award,” she recalls this rush of energy. “It was surreal. Everyone was cheering and clapping for me. I was shaking and crying.”
Leah has been practically singing since she was born. She even has a video of herself at two-and-a-half-years-old singing with a mic. When she was around seven years old, she began writing poetry. She really liked literature. When she was a teenager, her first boyfriend was the son of Jimmy Webb, the multi-platinum-selling singer, songwriter and composer. This planted a seed. His whole family was very musical, and it gave Leah an idea that it was possible to make a living in music.
But Leah went through different phases of her life. Though it was “intuitive” that she would eventually return to work in this field, she didn’t always know what she wanted to do and even veered away from piano and guitar for several years. In fact, she cheered and ran track for a period of time while in High School. She even got into acting at one point.
Around age 22, Leah got back in to writing. She started searching for the right producer. After working with several producers and many unhappy experiences, a mutual friend led her to Marty Rifkin, a very successful producer, who has worked with many talented artists like Bruce Springsteen, Jewel, Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, etc. Leah was looking for a very specific sound for years and was grateful to finally find Marty. Marty is also a phenomenal multi-instrumentalist, and he really made her songs shine. Leah feels honored that someone of Marty’s caliber likes her songs. Leah stated:
“We each have the power and will to change and make decisions, but if you are walking your own path, and doors don’t open, you should never force a door to open. It either wasn’t meant to be or the timing isn’t right. Marty respects and genuinely believes in what I’m doing.”
Some people that Leah admires are: Sarah McLachlan (she loves the music community she has created and feels McLachlan is both generous and authentic), Celine Dion (who has a drive that never stops and she feels Dion is a hard-worker, who has persevered), Loreena McKennitt (who has carved out her own path with her beautiful voice and Celtic vibe music that did not mold into any other style when the record industry did not initially embrace her).
Though Leah has had a lot of success, she has had to work hard to promote herself. Social media has helped, though her music didn’t “spread like wildfire,” her profile on MySpace took off and she established over 50,000 fans. Since the move over to Facebook, most of her fans have followed her over there as well. In addition to social media, Leah has done a lot of work on her own, such as interviews and radio appearances.
Leah has written and composed over one hundred songs. Her songs tend to be very light and springy. Songs like ReLOVEution, Spring, Toothbrush, Simple Love are very upbeat and relatable. Leah feels like she has been entrusted with a gift and the ability to compose music. She started playing piano at the age of 8, which is when she began composing her own stuff. In an odd sense, she really doesn’t feel like she writes her songs herself, they somehow just come to her. “Inspiration”, she says, “just happens”.
Leah’s second album titled “Speechless” will hit the mainstream in November. She is also currently writing and recording for her 3rd album, “Storm Stories”, which will likely be released in 2013 or 2014. Leah is the sole author-composer for all three of these albums. While her first two albums remain light-hearted, “Storm Stories” will be more reflective, somewhat moody, and darker. She is working with Marty Rifkin on this, and is just “allowing herself to go there” and explore her “dark side.”
The next new project Leah is working on will be all in French. For the first time, Leah will not be the sole author-composer. She will write about 2/3 of the songs herself. She is collaborating with other amazing artists, composers and lyricists from Quebec, New Brunswick, and France. She has also already chosen a producer, called “réalisateur” in French, whose name she is keeping a secret for the time being. They are already about 6 songs deep into this album that will probably feature 11 -12 songs. This album currently has no title. She and the collaborators are just taking their time and making it their own.
When asked what advice Leah would give to aspiring artists looking to break into the industry, Leah gave this advice:
“Always try to figure out how to continue in this industry. You have to be creative and business-like. At the end of the day, you have to make a living. It’s got to be a goal. You don’t have to be business-minded as long as you surround yourself with business-minded people you trust. Listen to your heart and intuition and follow your own path. It’s good to have role-models, but be yourself. Be creative and believe in what you’re doing. Stay true to yourself and what you believe in. We all have gifts in life. If it’s meant to be in music, believe in that and embrace it.”
Thank you, Leah West, for spending time with me that afternoon. We, at MaxMoon Entertainment, believe in you and can’t wait to hear your new albums. Thank you for sharing your talent and inspiration with the world. You truly live our theme where “it’s the music that brings us altogether!!!”