A singer/songwriter of genuine authenticity, Kristen Leigh's music represents a wildly eclectic mix of styles, encompassing nearly every genre with a subtle twang, raw emotion, and an alternative edge. From indie rock to folk to striking ballads, there is virtually no style that Kristen will not play from the heart.
Influenced primarily by traditional folk music and artists like Patty Griffin, Leonard Cohen, Tori Amos, Bob Dylan, Joni MItchell, Neil Young, and Fiona Apple, the self-taught North Carolina native has independently recorded and released three albums: "Home for Christmas" (2007), "Still Apt" (2008), which features Leigh's unique interpretation of 11 songs of social protest written during the 60's and 70's, and her newest release o originals, "Making Friends with Ghosts" (2010).
When asked to define the genre of her latest project, Leigh responded: "Well, this album has folk guitar, piano instrumentals, strings, banjo, trumpet, accordion, whistling, glockenspiel, the ocean, darkness, lightness, intensity, whimsical sarcasm, crickets, harmonica, flute, a crowd of people clapping their hands and singing lalalas, and opens with a medieval harpsichord and the epic reading of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote. So, whatever genre you think can safely include all of that..."
Though her lyrics are inspired by her own life and experiences, Kristen Leigh's hope in the face of raw human experience seems to strike a chord with diverse audiences. Of her voice, one reviewer writes: "Leigh is blessed with one of those rich voices that would still be captivating if she sang insurance quotes." Maintaining her sense of humor even in her darkest moments (of which there have been a few), Leigh strives to bring a depth of honesty back to the music industry that she feels has been sorely missing in recent years, and that she believes is desperately needed at this particular hinge of history.
In a recent interview, Leigh had the following to say about her new album: "It's about making friends with the past, in terms of embracing the emotions and experiences that have haunted me, in a way. I've had a bit of a rough time of it the past few years, through broken relationships, financial hardship, and some tragic family losses. I was trying to come to grips with all these things while also trying to figure out what I was doing with my life and my music, and how to come out the other side of all of it - embracing both the goodness and the pain, without running away. I was looking for a new way to face the reality of what was going on. "
Birthed out of the insights gained from these experiences, "Making Friends with Ghosts" is a collection of songs written by Leigh during those past five years. While the album traverses some dark and introspective territory with songs like "Remember Who You Are," "The Space in the Distance," and "Going All In," she maintains her faithfulness to lightness and laughter in "Day Off," and even with the playfulness of the brief piano interlude, "9:41." Leigh also offers some compelling social/religious commentary with songs like "Stouffer Chemical Company," "Right Where I Am," and "Sacred Heart," yet ultimately arrives at a point of personal redemption with folk-rock anthems "Weathering the Storm" and "Gratitude," taking the listener on an honest and eye-opening journey through the depths of sorrow and back out again, all in just a little over an hour.
Performing for over ten years at live music venues, local bars, coffee houses, musical theatres, music venues, local bars, coffee houses, musical theaters, street fairs, and festivals all over North and South Carolina as well as New York and California, Leigh has a well-developed ability to carve out her own niche and win the hearts of virtually any audience. The passion and emotion she pours into each performance is assuaged by a down-to earth and often witty stage presence that offers a refreshing contrast to today's style of pop-performance-driven entertainment. Leigh's live music sets are typically a mix of traditional folk tunes, Leigh's original material, and her (often surprising) interpretation of both well-known and little-known songs that span generations.
Mark Wingerter of the Carolinian writes, "Her drive is simply an essential love and respect for those artists whom she has studied and learned from...It is evident she feels that energy, and you can't help but listen over the conversations mumbling through the room. What she displays on stage is essentially Kristen Leigh. It is much more than just playing songs to entertain."