Interview: Leah Callahan

An Interview with Leah Callahan by Collected Sounds

Where are you based?
Allston, Ma (Boston)

Where did you grow up?

Lowell, MA

Tell us a little about how you got interested in music and when you started writing/playing.
my great grandmother provided me with a piano at age three–i started lessons then, my grandmother paid for my singing lessons at age 9.It wasn’t very expensive back then, as the teacher was a retired organist–i think she charged my like $3 for a lesson that would go on much longer than a 1/2 hour! i liked singing a lot more than playing–found it “easier”, more gratifying. i devised “shows” for my family starting when i was three or four years old(I used to see the Lawrence Welk Show on TV—my grandparents watched it and i would compete with it) the shows would vary from Shirley Temple impersonations to “lives of the Saints”. (i was Catholic and very religious!)

Describe your first performance (time, place and any feelings that went with it).
i sang–in public for the first time–as lead in the school play in 4th grade–i was “peter pan” i adored it! and i had lots of piano recitals before then. not quite as memorable! i think i liked the piano teacher more than the actual lessons, he was a great guy and we had a great rapport.

How would you describe your style of music and who are your musical influences?
i guess i would say my music is original, melodic, theatrical. not really particular to any place or time.

it could be compared to nina nastasia, tom waits, eleni mandell.edith piaf, astrud gilberto. I have been influenced by 1930’s blues, jazz and pop as well as new wave and punk. I have been perhaps been influenced by the spirit of punk and new wave more than the actual sound—-strong women who write their own music for themselves.I am very interested in world music also–from bossa nova to flamenco to yiddish music–and just as the roots of those musics are in American jazz and pop, they are in my music too–perhaps more obviously at times. My music is stripped down and bare, It demands people to pay attention, there is no “production team” to hide behind.

Same 5 questions:

1. What is the best feeling in the world?
dancing wildly after a few cocktails in a cheesy discoteque.
2. What is the worst feeling in the world?
when people i am relying on let me down.
3. What is your favorite beverage?
coffee.alcoholic beverages a close second. heck i like ’em all. water.
4. What is your favorite word or phrase?
I love language that is campy and tongue in cheek. (see :Queer Eye for the Straight Guy for examples) hours of entertainment.
5. What is your greatest accomplishment (so far)?
Me!I am a self made gal.

Read a review of Leah Callahan’s CD Even Sleepers on Collected Sounds

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