Carissa Leigh brings true heart to country music. The Calgary-born and Nashville-based singer and songwriter draws from a diverse and dynamic myriad of life experiences on her forthcoming sophomore EP. How many artists can boast of studying Tahitian dance and anthropology at college in Hawaii in between traveling the globe as part of an internationally-renowned choir, or enjoying a career stint as a professional photographer in New York City with photos landing in Glamour and Cosmopolitan? All of those moments inform the roller coaster ride captured in her music.
Growing up in Canada, she discovered music at a young age, splitting her time between dad’s rock ‘n’ roll records and granddad’s country catalog. That essentially paved the way for her to cultivate a style of her own later on.
“I want to make an album that sounds like Lynyrd Skynyrd had a baby with Dolly Parton,” smiles Carissa. “It’s country with a little bit of rock and pop. It’s everything that I love.”
In pursuit of that sound, Carissa relocated to Nashville in 2013. With her young daughter in tow, she immersed herself within the fabric of music city, catching the attention of some of the town’s leading songwriters and producers. She hit the studio with everybody from Tone Def [Santana, Michelle Branch] to Brian White [Trace Adkins, Rascal Flatts] and Clay Mills [Darius Rucker], releasing one EP that year.
Recorded at the legendary Blackbird Studios, her 2014 lead-off single “Bad Boy” speaks to a universal desire. The track’s music video was helmed by Kristin Barlowe [Luke Bryan, Martina McBride]. With its slick guitar twang and unforgettable refrain, she talks about the one thing every girl wants. “We were just talking about relationships,” she goes on. “A girls says she wants a nice guy, but she doesn’t really want a nice guy. Every girl wants to date a bad boy, and all guys want to be the bad boy too!”
However, her songs cover the entire emotional spectrum from pensive and poetic to bombastic and boisterous. “It all starts with the song,” she goes on. “Part of your personality wants to fall in love. Part of you wants to be single. I just want to explore different aspects of relationships. I’ve had so many different experiences, and it’s important for me to reflect those in the music.”
That’s why she’s immediately connected with fans and tastemakers. CMT, Country Music Aircheck, The Daily Country, Got Country, and Country Music Matters have all been early champions. Online, she also launched the groundbreaking ultimate #BadBoy campaign online allowing thousands of fans to “make your own mugshot”.
In the end, Carissa welcomes everyone into her world. “I want everybody to go on this journey with me,” she concludes. “We’ve all had our own experiences, and we can share the same feelings along the way.”
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