Life of Leah
by Kendolyn Walker
Editor’s Note: I had the pleasure of sitting with singer Leah Smith about a month ago and just catching up on life. She was in town with her siblings for the City Love NYC show in Harlem. We enjoyed talking about family, music and specifically her new album being released later this year. I have loved her voice and talent for years, so my delight about her upcoming project is hopefully contagious as you enjoy reading her thoughts on the many roles she plays and how she handles them along with staying true to her passion.
Being A Mother
“It’s a lifestyle.”
Leah Smith uses this term to describe her role as a mother of two toddlers. She enjoys being able to stay home with them, but in total transparency declares that it’s work. They truly keep her busy. Her parents and in-laws are not far from Leah’s Pennsylvania home, so they are a huge support to her and her husband as she manages her career. This is helpful currently as her husband travels from time to time for work. She empathizes as I discuss my own sister’s experiences with mothering a one and three-year-old.
In seven years, she got married and gave birth to two children, back to back. “We didn’t plan the pregnancies,” she admits. In absolute transparency, she shares about immediately beginning a natural family planning course. Natural family planning, also known as fertility awareness is a collection of methods using your body’s natural functioning to determine the days of the month you are most likely to get pregnant (www.americanpregnancy.org). With everything from using thermometers, scheduling, and charting body functions, this process requires discipline. “It’s not who I am,” Leah states. “I never paid to continue the course and then soon after, I got pregnant. I said this would happen.”
And happen it did. Keeping the gender a surprise until birth, she and her husband, AJ, had a beautiful baby girl. Leah still performed the occasional show though. I remember her daughter coming to a gig at The Bitter End as a baby, and waiting patiently in the green room for Mommy’s performance to end.
Inspiration From Life and Her Village
Leah’s journals serve as muses for her song lyrics. “I’m a journal-er,” she says. Writing about her thoughts, significant (or less than significant) events, friends, and family provide the backdrop and easel for songs to be created.
Along with her family constantly supporting her music efforts, Brandon Camphor, a close friend, and fellow artist comes to mind as someone who is a loud voice in her village. “Brandon would call out of the blue when I am just around the house in slippers, breastfeeding my baby girl,” she recalls. “Leah, you still gotta put out music,” he said. “Certain people dig into your heart,” she continues. Dave James, another close friend and artist, produced most of her upcoming album. “He would tell me ‘Leah your stuff is good. You gotta put it out there.’ These two artists were pushers," Leah admits. She is not a self-promoter so with family and friends like Brandon and Dave, who have given the extra prodding and encouragement when needed the most, Leah continues to walk in her purpose.
The Upcoming Project
I bring up her latest single, Pays The Rent, from her upcoming debut album to discuss how much I love the upbeat melody and appreciate the down-to-earth theme. Leah chose Pays The Rent to be the first single because it was upbeat and fun. Even though it was a heavy message, “people like money songs,” she states. Leah shares with me that she wrote it for herself, based on her own desires and dreams. She wanted and still wants music to be a career that pays the bills. “Money is a necessary evil,” she remarks. In talking about this, we laughed as she spoke of ending up in a homeless shelter if the income pressures were to be solely on her. Her social media fans chose her second single Numb when she put it up for voting a few months ago.
Leah begins to share a little more about her feelings surrounding her album, slated to be released this month. She says, “I feel like I am coming out of nowhere. I have been silent for about seven years. I got married and had two kids back-to-back. This album is a long time coming and has a lot hinging on it. We either put this out, and it’s a stepping stone or I drop everything to become a librarian. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT as it still pays the rent. I still have two children.” The album has a title, but Leah shares “I don’t want to release the name of the project just yet.”
Leah’s music makes me happy. I share this description with her, and she responds “Really?” I confirm, and we begin to discuss another track I love. Talk Too Much is another real, honest song. People, men, and women alike do it. Many times without thinking or taking a moment of wisdom to determine if thoughts are worth verbalizing.
Ordinary Girl speaks of the validation women sometimes need from external sources, and sometimes internal. Jasmine Sullivan’s Mascara was the impetus for Leah’s song. Leah feels very strongly about Ordinary Girl as it was the last track recorded. She believes the message is artistic and good. “I hope it connects to women on that deeper level,” Leah says.
In my opinion, Ordinary Girl, along with Leah’s music in general, does just that.
KW: Favorite movie.
LS: Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan. I have a heart attachment to it.
KW: Favorite color.
LS: Red. I am wearing my favorite color!
KW: What is an issue in this country that needs…
LS: White privilege.
Leah Smith’s debut album will be available on music platforms later this year. You can keep up with all of her updates by following @leahsmithmusic on Twitter and Instagram.