"I've complained about it my whole life because I've got to spell it and spell it and spell it but it has served me well," said Nashville recording artist Brennen Leigh as she lamented her name's unique spelling.
There are terms for artists whose journeys have taken them far and wide, such as "Well traveled" or "Bounced around" come to mind but Brennen is neither of those; she's more like a confident stroll and that confidence has served her as well as her name. You see, Brennen's vocal stylings and lyrical content are honest and open with a vulnerability that many artists strive for yet few seem to achieve. What is elusive to others seems to flow from her with ease giving her an air of approachability wrapped in a twinge of intimidation.
Perhaps to fully understand this talented artist, we need to know some of the path she's trod to achieve the success she has enjoyed thus far. This guitar and mandolin player has written material that has been recorded by Lee Ann Womack, Rodney Crowell and Charley Crockett to name several and it all started out in the upper mid-west.
"Yeah, it's not interesting to me but it might be interesting to others," she said with a laugh. "I grew up in Minnesota, just on the North Dakota state line; I was a musician as a teenager there with my brother. My brother and I toured as a a duo, kind of a bluegrass thing and then I moved to Texas when I was 19 and I lived there for just shy of 15 years and then I moved here to Nashville in 2016 and this is a great place to live with a great music scene; it's a wonderful community. I think Nashville is definitely a country music town as it has always been but I think in a way that's changing a little; you still have that core of country artists and musicians which is very, very strong but I'm seeing other genres here more than there used to be."
Along the way she has put out five solo albums, amassed a loyal following here in the U.S and has a strong presence in Europe and Scandinavia and has recently released her sixth album titled, "Prairie Love Letter;" which she initially balked at doing but is rather happy that she did.
"Well, it was new in September;" she explained, "I was anxious about that because no one knew how long this would last, no one knew how the reception of original music would be and there was an element of concern that maybe the material would feel obsolete with the gravity of what has been going with all of the 2020 issues; racial unrest and the pandemic of course and there was an element of worry that I was doing something kind of selfish or self-serving by putting out music. There was also the worry that it would get totally buried because it seemed like every day there was some traumatic thing in the news and I was concerned; what if I put it out and then the same day "Insert world event here" might happen but I put it out and I kind of just trusted my cape and I'm so happy I did because a lot of people told me that this wqs something that got them through this tough time and the subject matter did feel relevant to people. I really gambled on that but it was a good choice and now I feel that much more connected to the fans."
"Prairie Love Letter," is sort of a concept album," she continued. "Over the course of the last decade and a half I have lived in the South and I have spent the whole time enjoying where I was but I also had this thread of homesickness. So, I was slowly writing songs about home because that's just where my heart went and so I ended up accruing enough of these tunes that were kind of about that area and I ended up compiling them for this sort of love letter to the prairie and the whole album is about that area."
"The whole album" as she says, is 12 tracks of descriptive stories; musical pictures if you will which seem to give one a smattering of her life "On the prairie" at various stages and just like with every good story, there is a supporting cast. Brennen often shares her stage with others but there's one gentleman in particular who she has been working with for quite some time; a guitarist whose vocals compliment hers and one who helps create an on-stage chemistry that engages audiences immediately.
"Noel McKay, he's a Texan and I met him at a gig in Seguin, TX a long time ago and we started playing together and then we moved here in 2016. He's here now, we both write for the same publishing company and we both play around Nashville and tour, well, we did tour; we'll see when that kicks off again."
However, Brennen doesn't stop there; she gives credit where credit is due and she readily hands out praise for one of her co-writers on the new record.
"Melissa Carper is a dear friend and she is putting out a new album that is absolutely fantastic and I mention her because we wrote the second track on my album together; a song called "Billy & Beau" which is a song about some friends back home; it's a love story. Melissa is so special and so fantastic; you've got to really listen to her."
To discover more about Brennen Leigh or purchase her music; please visit www.brennenleigh.net.
That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!