“I never let anybody tell me I needed a Plan B to fall back on. There is no plan B, there is only Plan A, and that plan is to be an entertainer, musician and songwriter.”
Leigh Cara has held to this philosophy for years; learning, practicing, and growing, into the musician that she is today. Her passion and creative talents have led her to develop her own style of music, one that is as unique as it is familiar. Cara has taken two rich heritages: the legendary songwriting, story-telling, country style of Nashville, and the equally legendary singer/songwriter pop of California and combined them together. The result: “Countryfornia.”
Long before Cara even thought of a name for her style she had been absorbing different genres of music and perfecting her craft. Born in Ventura and raised in Visalia, California, her parents set her off on her musical journey before she was even old enough to hold a guitar properly. Being so young and small, Cara’s first instrument was a baritone ukulele, tuned to the same octave of a guitar. Its diminutive size was perfect for her young hands until she learned to play a six string guitar in sixth grade. The piano also became a part of Cara’s musical development when she was seven, but as kids often do, she lost interest in the instrument after four years of lessons. However, a little over a decade later, she found herself coming back to the ivories as a renewed source of musical inspiration.
This open-mindedness to new things or revisiting the old has been a consistently driving part of Cara’s life, in and outside of music. Whether it’s business, writing, relationships, or faith, she approaches all these different concepts with a willingness to take in new ideas and sort them out amongst her own. And as for music, well this perfectly explains not only how the “Countryfornia” idea came about, but also how Cara can find so much inspiration and joy from artists as diverse as Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, Taylor Swift, Marc Broussard, and her absolute hero, Sara Bareilles.
Despite her love of the different genres these artists represent, and furthermore her extensive collection of over 350 complete musical theatre scores she has in her music library, Cara’s music is still heavily rooted in country-pop. Her sound is more comparable to Swift but can also lean towards Bareilles when she takes to the keys. But even the influence from all those Broadway cast albums shows up in her music with Cara’s ability to tell a story within her lyric, and really channel the characters of her songs in both writing and performance.
Cara has poured her years of development and growth and her all-consuming love of music into her debut album, Slow Approaching Someday. An early version of the title track from the album already achieved some notoriety when it was discovered on Cara’s MySpace page by Quickstar Productions, a production company based in Boston. So impressed were they by her music that they wanted to include her on their album, Chill Out – An Acoustic Compilation. Now a more recent version of the song, along with two other tracks, “Unafraid” and “But I Do,” can be heard on Cara’s official website, www.leighcara.com ahead of her album’s official release.
In the meantime, Cara hasn’t exactly been enjoying any downtime. Over the last nine years, she’s been performing all over the world. Some performances have been scattered about the U.S. but she’s also played gigs in Japan, Macau, Italy and the Caribbean. For some people, this may seem like a lot of work, but Cara just sees it as an extension of her normal work ethic. Having never been one to shy away from working towards her goals, she sees each performance as an opportunity to grow, and is grateful for what has come her way already. Between her fans, friends, family, fellow musicians, and producers who have been with her on her journey, she actively remembers that she’s had a lot of help from them along the way, and she’ll forever be grateful to everyone involved.
When your dream in life is to be up on stage, accepting a Grammy for your singing and songwriting, you have to be determined and creative, and Leigh Cara is both of those. Her constant touring and love for being on stage is matched only by her love of songwriting. As opposed to the music industry standard of trying to draw a hit song out of an artist, Cara approaches her songwriting from a different angle. As she puts it:
“I am personally committed to writing great songs with a hope that they will become hits, rather than attempting to write commercial hits that may or may not be great songs.”
Her songs tell stories that can be universally related to, not just because they are based off of commonly shared experiences, but because they are honest and emotionally transparent, allowing the listener to see the singer, just as easily as they can see themselves in the music. When you tie that all together with a “Countryfornia” sound, you get the music of Leigh Cara.
If she’s not touring or writing, Cara can be spotted whipping up an organic meal in her kitchen, watching re-runs of I Love Lucy or spending time with her family, and her cat Benedick. Always growing, always grateful, always authentic: Leigh Cara.