Get To Know Leah Turner!
WQYK listeners are in for a real treat on August 15th when Brad Paisley rolls into town at the Midflorida Credit Union Amphitheater. Get there when the show starts because you’ll be able to say ‘I saw her when…’ Who am I talking about? Leah Turner. Leah Turner has been on the road opening for Brad Paisley this summer and has been having a fabulous time crossing the country. This California native has been taking Nashville by storm and now the rest of the country is lucky enough to see what all the fuss is about.
I first met Leah at WQYK last fall when she came through for her radio promotion. It was then that I saw an up and coming country star with stellar songs and lyrics. I never forgot when she did ‘My Finger’ for us, and that’s when I knew she was the real deal. And its still my favorite song by her.
I was lucky to talk with Leah recently and interview her.
Leah was born into a rodeo family where her dad was a championship team roper (just like George Strait). She did try her hand at riding horses. She’s been on a horse, even before she was out of the womb. “There are pictures of me on a horse before I was born” she says. She tried barrel racing and being involved with the family rodeo business, but music was her first love. Her family was extremely supportive and her. Her parents were and still are her biggest fans. “We call my dad Detective Dad because he finds things out on the internet before anyone else does. They’ve been my biggest fans. My dad said that they would go down to their last roll of toilet paper to make my dream come true” There was never any question as to it not being okay with her family, so she moved to Nashville three years ago.
I dub Leah Turner as “Sass Country.” Basically the term bro country has taken the airwaves by storm, but Leah’s brand of music is from a very strong woman’s vantage point. She has always been extremely strong willed and she says, “My mom is Latin and my dad is a cowboy so its a recipe for spice. My parents have always given me a very strong sense of self. My dad told me if they tell you no, you flip it around and its on!”
About the lack of women on the radio, she understands that there is a hole out there when it comes to that. She honors those who came before her, including Tammy Wynette, June Carter Cash, Martina McBride, Lorrie Morgan, Kathy Mattea, Reba Mcentire, and her favorite, Trisha Yearwood. “They’ve paved the way for the next generation of women out there. They’ve always had strong personalities and sing about the truth,” and Leah wants to honor them in the best way possible, through her music.
The songs that she writes are about real life situations. “My Finger was a personal experience that I went through, its from my point of view and the reaction to that song from women and men is equal. We’ve all had experiences where we were cheated on. We all have rings we can give back. I love that its tongue and cheek, I love my daddy i’ve had amazing relationships, i don’t want to be a man hater but I’m not going to roll over and take it, but don’t mess with this woman.”
What about the ‘daisy dukes’ attitude towards women that country music encourages? “Its definitely a reality, we do wear bikini tops and cut off shorts, its a lifestyle, but i think that a real man is someone who loves you for who you are. Even in the morning when you just wake up and you look your worst, a real man will hold you and kiss you and love you no matter what you look like.”
Leah is one stylish girl. You can count on her looking her best when she performs. MAC makeup, I had to ask her about it. I had heard she was being sponsored by MAC while on tour, and me being a MAC fanatic, I asked if she was going to be a model for them. She’s not but she’s a lucky girl, they endorse her tour and send her boxes of makeup. “MAC makeup is really great for the stage and for photo shoots. They really have been so awesome. They have great colors and they’ve been great in giving me whatever I need!” She has boxes of stuff so no more make up bills for her!
Haute Hippie has also supplied her with stage clothes and she has been blessed to work with them. Leah says, “the band gives me a hard time that the back lounge on the bus is basically ‘Leah’s Dressing Room,’ there’s false eyelashes on the mirror, make up everywhere and clothes hanging from everywhere. She loves the Haute Hippie style. “Its a little bit of rock and roll and a little bit of hippie and they’ve really helped me sparkle out there on the stage.”
Leah literally tours with a band of brothers. She is on the bus with 8 boys! She doesn’t have her own bus just yet but the guys help her with her bags and its great to be with them. The only one who snores is the bus driver. I joked with her saying ‘hopefully while he’s not driving!’ Leah loves him to death and couldn’t ask for a better or cooler bus driver.
While on tour, they’ve been able to hang out with Brad Paisley and his band and they support Leah even on her own gigs. The support and the camaraderie is amazing and she says “I really couldn’t ask for anything better, they allow me to use the whole stage, and even use the video screens during my set. Brad gives us amazing catering, and he even rented out a whole theater for everyone (on the tour) and came and watched the movie Godzilla! I heard that a long time ago Brad said ‘I don’t want to treat anyone as an opening act, like they’re an opening act. i want them to be the best that they can be.’ That shows the heart of the man that Brad Paisley is.”
I asked Leah what she did when she got selected to go on tour with Brad. “I screamed when I got the call to be on tour with Brad! I’m like are you kidding me?”
Its a singer’s dream to be fought over by labels. This happened to Leah shortly after she landed in Nashville. Leah says, “when I moved to Nashville there were three labels under the Sony label who fought for me. They did little cute things, like leaving post it notes on my managers car. it truly is a family, and I am still friends with all the other labels and they make sure that I’m is taken care of. Its really a family atmosphere.”
July 29th was her birthday and she signed her contract to Columbia Records on her birthday, 2013. That makes her a Leo, and I told her she’s made for the spotlight. She laughed and said “from your mouth to the Lord’s ear!”
There was a time when Leah had a strict upbringing. Her parents went through a phase where there was no TV and no secular music. But Leah had an alarm clock radio that she would listen to. She would put her ear to the little speaker and listen to the top 40 and country stations. She remembers singing the song “We Built This City (on rock and roll)” by Starship, and her dad saying “No we built this city on prayer!”
While it was just a phase, Leah says “Its more about your relationship with the Lord, I have a strong faith and a wonderful base. He gave me these gifts to sing and to write and I’m grateful for the foundation that i grew up on.” Her music isn’t rebellious, she respects authority. Leah says, “but don’t put me in a box, I will be who I’m meant to be. If someone says you can’t be who you are, look out!”
Leah wrote the song “Pull Me Back.” Basically its a sweet song about I’m gonna go over here for a while, but follow me after a few minutes. Leah says “we all put ourselves in positions where we push away out of fear, but in reality we want someone to put their arms around you and say i got you, i see what your feeling and I’m here for you. We want someone to pull us back. You never know what somebody is going through. There was a preacher that said, ‘don’t ever be envious of what someone has because you don’t know what it took them to get there.’ Never be judgmental because you don’t know what they’re going through.”
Leah’s attitude is fresh, and has been able to find her own self worth. She has learned so much and she has rooted for the underdogs because she was one. Leah has a great team of co writers, they’ve listened to her and they’ve been able to get into her head and understand where she’s coming from to produce such great songs. She’s brought some of that California sound to Nashville. She calls it ‘Cowboy Country.’ Her songs have the influence from the easy breezy California feeling and thats what she tries to convey.
When Leah was starting out, she got to work with the award winning David Foster. What was he like to work with? “He’s incredible! I was sitting at a restaurant in Beverly Hills, next to a woman and we started talking. Her husband was Humberto Gatica (music producer) and a week later I was recording with David. They taught me how to put inflections in my words when I sing, and how to be quick in the studio.” She had no idea she was going to his house to record, she was just given the address to meet Humberto and then David walked in. Leah says “his walls were covered with everyone he worked with!” She was 19 at the time. “I was overwhelmed but grateful for the time I had with them.” She felt that her spirit and her soul was country and they were very supportive when she decided to make the move to Nashville.
Leah has been able to meet a lot of her country music heroes. She saw George Strait backstage one time. She was raised on George. “I was just staring at him while I was sitting on this chair and he looked over. He caught me staring! I’m like ‘oh crap I’m busted! And he just smiled at me!”
“Kenny Chesney that man is amazing! He sent me an email with a picture we took together and he said let me know if you need anything. He is always asking if I need anything! I’m like I wanna be you when I grow up! He is a hard worker and a kind man. He is everything everyone says he is!” Leah has the same manager as Kenny.
She also got to meet Garth Brooks. Garth asked who her influences were. She said “Well, this is going to sound kind of corny but you were, because I come from a rodeo family and you sing about cowboys!” Garth asked who her female influences were, and she said “this sounds stupid too, but your wife!” She told him about how her parents took her to see Trisha one time, and Trisha hit this huge note, and Trisha fell to the ground when she sang it. Leah had a tear coming from her eye, and said ‘thats what i want to do.’
Leah is blessed. She has Brad and Kenny in her corner. She knows it, and never takes it for granted. “I should have bruises on my arm from pinching myself so much! This is real!” Leah is on the list of those coming up, thats going to be on the very top. She interacts with her fans, and gives them quality time. “I’m just grateful people care,” she says.
So, to those who hold tickets for this show, get there on time, and see this amazing woman perform. You’ll be able to say “I saw her when…”
http://www.leahturner.com Follow her on twitter @leahturnermusic
Who: Brad Paisley, Randy Houser, Charlie Worsham and Leah Turner
When: August 15th
Where: MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater
Tickets available at LiveNation.com