CHICAGO, IL — As he releases his third album, Gypsy, this fall, Leslie Bowe will have already established audiences in Chicago and Pittsburgh.
But this singer and songwriter, who is known for connecting with his fans to help them overcome personal challenges, believes in the universal appeal of his music.
“I’m certain my singing and songwriting is an instrument,” he says, “my voice to the world. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing.” Apparently his listeners agree, often approaching him after concerts to share how his music and lyrics helped them through a difficult time in their life.
Bowe began singing and performing as a child, joining an acappella gospel and Sixties group formed by his father and uncles. It wasn’t until college and an elective in piano, however, when he really began to explore songwriting. The difference between performing others’ work out of a music book and developing a melody that was his own was an epiphany.
“It was a beautiful day.”
Gypsy, which follows two earlier albums, Through My Eyes and Wings of Your Dreams (both available on CD Baby) marks the continued musical evolution of an artist who is a songwriter at heart. His early lyrics were driven by other people’s experiences that he’d overhear or imagine, but as he became a student of the songwriting craft, he found that his own experiences asserted themselves in his creativity.
“Over the years, I’ve begun to write about how I feel about situations, political issues and society,” Bowe says. “I’ve finally found—my voice.”
The diversity of his sound and the powerful simplicity of his messages have been informed, in part, by his voracious appetite for music of all genres, from old soul to country to classics. Sam Cooke, Third World, Bob Marley and Billy Joel, among others, have helped him to find his voice. But he holds a special place in his musical soul for a select group.
“I am fascinated by performers that captivate my attention with just their guitar or piano and their voice,” he says. “When their lyrics say just what I wanted to hear—or something I wasn’t expecting—they’ve got me. I’m hooked.” He names Keb Mo, James Taylor, Seal and Marley as members of this special group, who he considers artists that perform and communicate on a high level.”
While he performs his new music this fall, there might be an aspiring songwriter or two in his audience getting hooked as well.
His website, www.lesliebowe.com, contains information about the artist, his music and upcoming dates.