Leah Harris Talks "Shine," Musical Influences, and More

Meikhel

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Drew Bordeaux (@drewimages)

With her single, “Shine,” out now, we took some time to hear more from Leah Harris. Read below to learn more about Leah Harris, the story behind her latest single, and what’s to come.

Hi Leah Harris! Let’s start with how did you get your artist name?

Hi! Great to be chatting with you. Well, in this case, the answer is easy because I just went with my own name!

What city are you from and where are you based now?

I’m originally from Windsor, ON, Canada which is only five minutes away from Detroit. It was a really unique place to grow up musically because we were exposed to Detroit radio, and all the Motown and Soul that came with it, as well as the channels that promoted mainly Canadian artists. I’m now based in the NYC area, Jersey City to be exact.

At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a career in music? How did you get started?

I connected with music when I was very young. For me, music was the most natural language, and it helped me through many things in life. I was lucky to be born into a musical family. My mom was a piano teacher, and my dad was a Country songwriter. I started with Classical training, but as soon as I learned about chords, my whole mindset changed, and I became interested in songwriting. My dad was very sweet and encouraged me to record my first three songs when I was nine.

Has your upbringing played a role in shaping who you are and defining your sound today? If so, how?

My current sound is influenced mainly by my upbringing in my hometown and the travels that followed. I received a lot of encouragement for my music at home, and I was raised in an area that also appreciates music. I didn’t realize how lucky I was until later in life to be introduced to music through the sounds of Motown. I was able to take my Classical training and gradually apply it to Blues and Soul music.

I have always written music as a means of documenting and making sense of my life. It’s interesting to look back on the songs that I wrote in my teens, as an adult at home, and in each place that I lived in afterwards. I’m always grateful for the foundations that allowed me to make music such a big part of my life.

How would you describe your sound to readers who may not be familiar with you?

I am an old school Soul lover. I listen a lot to 70s Soul classics and 90s R&B, and I think that comes through in my music. I’m most often compared to Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, and Mariah Carey, and my piano style is most strongly influenced by Ray Charles. My songwriting inspiration can be anyone from D’Angelo and Prince to Melissa Ethridge and Elton John or H.E.R. and Hozier. Overall, I love to write old-school inspired Soul music with a modern twist.

Do you have any hobbies outside of music? What do you do to stay creative?

Honestly, most of my free time is spent supporting other artists’ shows. I love to go out and hear live music. My favorite spot is Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar, and I’m there a few nights a week! I also like to be healthy, work out, and walk our little dog, Luka. Definitely enjoy good food and cocktails!

Who are some of your main musical influences?

I grew up listening to a lot of Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. I love powerful, dynamic vocals, especially when the artist also has a soft side to their voice. Piano-wise, I could listen to Ray Charles all day. I studied Jazz Piano for a few semesters at Berklee, so occasionally, I’ll include some jazz voicings in my writing. I love Neo-Soul, especially D’Angelo, Anthony Hamilton, and Jill Scott, and my favorite newer artists would probably be H.E.R. and Hozier.

What are some of your future music career goals?

For me, music is all about connecting with people. I try to write exactly what I’m feeling in hopes that someone will be able to relate and find comfort in the music, whether it be an uplifting, inspiring song or an honest track about a difficult moment. I’m a hustler, and I’m always working on social media, PR, and the business side of my career, but at the end of the day I believe it all comes down to creating something beautiful and seeing what happens.

Now onto your release, “Shine.” What inspired this song?

I wrote “Shine” about the determination it takes to wake up every day and pursue a non-traditional dream. This is a very intentional decision because it’s not an easy road, and I believe creatives deserve a song of encouragement for this. In my mind, this could be anyone from an artist or musician, to an entrepreneur or someone with a creative hobby that they are trying to make room for in their life. I’ve been there many times, and I’m so grateful that I always managed to make space for what I love and continuously choose music again.

What is “Shine” about in your own words?

“Shine” is about looking in the mirror and not recognizing yourself because you let an important part of your soul go. I think this happens to a lot of people, especially as we get older. There is less encouragement to pursue passions, and more pressure to fall in step with the norm and a sense of responsibility. Most people adhere to this knowing that they are not happy (myself included at times!). In the song, I look in the mirror, decide I’m not waiting another day to build the life I want, grab my keys, walk into the city streets, and promise that I won’t come home until I “Shine.”

What is your favorite lyric in “Shine” and why?

The first two lines really embody how we get to this point of losing ourselves. “I’m not sure exactly when it was that my soul began to put walls up. Must have had reasons at the time.” We never mean to hurt ourselves or let our dreams go, but we know there must have been some reason why it happened.

But, my favorite line happens at the end of the second and last chorus. It’s simple. “It can’t be too late for you to shine.” Because, it’s not!

What message do you hope fans take away from your music and from “Shine?”

I hope people understand that it’s never too late to make your life what you want it to be. It doesn’t matter if you feel like you “missed your chance” or have fallen into a permanent routine. There’s always a way. If something matters to you, you have the right to make space for it in your life.

What’s one of your proudest moments of your music career so far?

This is a great question. It’s a hard one to answer!

It always means so much to find that your mentors appreciate your music. I’ve had shoutouts from Montell Jordan and Deborah Cox, recorded with producer Kabir Sehgal, and am honored to be having my release party for the song at Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar, owned by Valerie Simpson herself.

I think my proudest has been any deep connections with fans – when someone has told me my music had an impact in their life somehow. Recently, I was out and met a lovely woman from Paris who said that her and her friends are fans of my original music back in France. To me, that was amazing and a very special night that I will never forget.

What would you say are the greatest lessons you’ve learned so far?

Life is happening now! I used to live in the future as a very goal-oriented person. It doesn’t take long to realize that goal-oriented people move on fast from what they’ve achieved and are always obsessed with the next thing. I’ve learned that this moment, right now, could be the greatest one of my life that I look back on as my best memory. I try to enjoy everything as it’s happening.

Also, be a good person. I’ve been hearing this more and more in the music business. Your intentions, and your relationships, should be genuine. Not just for business purposes, but because you will enjoy life so much more if you build true friendships around you.

What’s next for you? Are you working on any upcoming projects that we should be on the lookout for?

I am releasing the music video for “Shine” in July. I’m excited because it features muralist Andaluz the Artist spray painting an old piano, and he did an amazing job. It also features dancer Olutayo performing a self-choreographed routine. This is all to support the mission statement of recognizing and empowering creatives on their journeys.

I also recorded a second single called, “New Man,” that I hope to release later this year!

Where can we follow you on social media?

I post the most on Instagram (@leahharrisofficial) and “Shine” will be available on all digital platforms. You are more than welcome to connect with me on any of my channels!

Website: LeahHarrisMusic.com

Instagram: instagram.com/leahharrisofficial

All Other Channels: linktr.ee/leahharrismusic

Stream “Shine”: distrokid.com/hyperfollow/leahharris/shine

Before you go, let's ask you a couple of random questions:

What’s one thing you could never live without?

Ice cream. I would eat Cold Stone’s Chocolate Peanut Butter every single day if I could. And, of course my family!

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you recently?

My puppy is half-Husky and likes to sing along to my music. He gets really into it, sometimes howling for the whole song. I posted a TikTok video of him singing the Blues with me!

Thank you for the great interview; wish you much continued success!

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Meikhel is the founder and CEO of the record label, management and public relations company M.E.I. Recordings. He is also the founder and CEO of the apparel brand Psalm Infinity.

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