Shayna Leigh: Our exclusive Q&A with the Pop singer-songwriter

Shayna Leigh is a New York City based Pop singer-songwriter, originally from Orlando. In July of last year, Shayna released her debut album “Drive” on S-Curve Records/UMG and more recently, Shayna released the visual for her song "Goodbye July". We connected with Shayna to find out how she got started in music, why participation with organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is important for her, what made her recent tour such an amazing experience, and much more.

Carlton Boyd

How did you get started in music? Do you remember the exact moment when you realized that being an artist is what you wanted to do?

I actually found singing through acting when I was very young. I convinced my mom to let me try acting classes (which I enjoyed, against all odds as I was a VERY shy, fearful kid, believe it or not!), which led to trying singing lessons and then I was hooked! I don’t think I realized I wanted to be an artist in one profound moment. I think of it more as a series of moments, a series of decisions that I am consistently making in support of my career. I am a person who makes music, who chooses to make music and work hard every single day. I feel like I decide every single day that I want to be an artist!

How would you describe your music to someone who has not heard you before?

This is a hard one!! I call it pop/singer-songwriter music, but I usually then encourage people to listen and make up their own minds. I think it’s based in traditional pop songwriting, with the addition of the electronic elements of more modern pop music.

Describe your creative process when it comes to developing a new song. 

I am primarily a co-writer, so my creative process varies! For this album, I wrote primarily with my producers, Michael Mangini and Peter Zizzo. Each song came from something different- some began with melodies, others with an idea or quote I would bring in, some even came directly from old journals which I used in our writing sessions. That’s what I love about collaboration- it’s always different, always exciting and I feel like I leave every writing session with a new perspective on my experiences because of the perspectives of my writing partners.

Tell us about your debut album "Drive"; was it fun or nerve racking putting together this project? 

The songs from the album were written one at a time, so I actually didn’t know I was working on an album! I think that helped me stay calm and just enjoy the process! I also was working with two amazing co-writers and producers (Michael Mangini and Peter Zizzo), and really by the time we were full steam ahead on the creation of the album, I had come to completely trust them both, which in this business is just the greatest gift (and also the greatest antidote for anxiety!)

Do you have a favorite song on "Drive"? If so, what is it and why?

The song “Drive” will always have the most special place in my heart. It was the first song I wrote with Michael and Peter, and I think I could tell it was the beginning of something new and exciting. More than that, I was coming out of a very rocky time, personally and professionally, and I needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel. “Drive” did that for me.

Why is your participating with organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention important to you?

A very important family member of mine lost his life to suicide, so for the most personal of reasons, this organization is very close to my heart. But even more globally, I think we need to start talking about these issues- about suicide and mental illness so that we can start finding solutions. I feel honored to have been the smallest part of this fight and would love to continue to do anything I can to help.

I'm sure that your recent tour with Wakey Wakey and Lee DeWyze was an amazing experience; what were some of the highlights?

One of my favorite moments was performing at the World Café in Philly. I have family and friends there, so it was really great to get to share my music with them. I also actually just really enjoyed getting to know Lee and Wakey Wakey. They are both just so talented and really easy to talk to. I am really lucky I got to go on this tour!

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