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Rising Stars: Meet Sonia Leigh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sonia Leigh.

Hi Sonia, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
When I was 5 years old, I started dragging around my dad’s guitar. He eventually started teaching me chords at the age of 9 years old. I immediately started writing songs.

I started playing in my dad’s band and performing my songs at their gigs and later started my own band when I was 16 years old. Things got rocky at home and set out on my own when I turned 17 years old. I quickly started a band and began performing at venues.

A year later, I hooked up with a manager and a record producer in Atlanta and recorded my first record at 18 years old. I began playing around the Atlanta scene and building my fan base. I eventually caught the eye of Zac Brown and began opening for his band Mostly in Georgia until he started a record label Southern Ground Records.

I was the first artist he signed. I recorded my first major studio record produced by Zac Brown and released my first song “My Name Is Money” to major country radio station platforms. My videos were on CMT and I got to tour all over the country and play stadiums, and legendary venues and I was living the dream. In the meantime, my mother was very sick with terminal cancer and when it was her last days I canceled my upcoming tour with Los Lonely Boys and stayed by her side.

During that time, I had my very first Number 1 song recorded by and written with Zac Brown Band “Good Bye In Her Eyes” on the Radio. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I decided to drive to Nashville from my mother’s funeral and slept on my keyboard player’s couch until I found my current residence. I had another number one with Zac Brown “Sweet Annie” which was such a huge honor to be a part of both of those great songs.

It was such an adventure and I am so thankful for that part of my journey. A year later Southern Ground Records and I parted ways and I became an independent artist. I picked up a publishing Deal with Hori Pro and wrote a lot of songs on music row while continuing to build my fan base mostly in the U.K. and Europe.

I self-released a lot of songs that were played on SXM THE HIGHWAY and featured in films, T.V., and video games. I caught the eye of David Polemini and Maite Burgess at BMG in New York and they signed me as a writer. I currently do a lot of writing for film and Television, have a couple of projects about to drop, and I am recording a new record.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road, I left home with $50 and my guitar. I had to work hard and take whatever jobs I could find. I slept on couches and finally got to a place I could stand on my own two feet. It was particularly hard being a gay female in country music.

I was open about it and I think that was a surprise to people in the labels etc in Nashville. When I came to this town, it was very hush-hush if you were gay. I am so happy to see so many artists coming out and the industry beginning to open up and be accepting, no one should feel they have to choose between their career or being honest about who they are.

No one should live in fear that if they come out they won’t have the same opportunities as the straight community. I saw a lot of that fear when I was coming up in the music scene.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a songwriter and performer. I like to write all genres of music I think I am known for being a bit of a wild card in my stylistic approach to music. I am probably most known for being a trailblazer and doing my own thing.

I am so proud and thankful for so many things I have gotten to do in my career, I have played Melissa Etheridge cruise 4 years in a row and performed with her, I have toured with legends like Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson, and I got to open for Joan Jett, I got to work with Roger Taylor (drummer for the rock band Queen) on the last single rerelease of my song 1978 December produced by Roger Taylor and Joshua McCray.

I got to make a record with and tour with the Zac Brown Band and play the greatest venues of all time. I am also so proud of making a living doing what I love and becoming a respected songwriter and artist in this industry. I am so very lucky to have the opportunity to share my music with the world as my profession.

I think what sets me apart from the others would have to be that I am unable to keep my music in a set genre so it’s hard to lump me into one category. I am what I am.

What are your plans for the future?
I am looking forward to releasing my projects Rob The Man, TYGR/TYGR, INDICA GIRLZ, and my latest record due out this fall. I am looking forward to continuing to grow as an engineer and producer.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Anna Webber, Lauren Merrell, Troy Walsh, and Whitney Otte

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