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“Jazz Monthly Feature Interview” Leila
Interview by Baldwin "Smitty" Smith



Jazz Monthly:   Well, it is my wonderful pleasure to welcome to JazzMonthly.com for the very first time an incredible singer.  She sings with a wonderful combination of passion, bravura, and a powerful romantic vibe.  You must hear her great new record.  It is called Of Life.  Please welcome the incredible and amazing Leila.  Leila, how are you, my friend?


Leila:  Great.  Thank you.  So happy to be here.


Jazz Monthly:  Yes, and I am so happy to talk with you and to hear this great record Of Life.  It really reminds me of life and some of my own life experiences just listening to the lyrics, and without even listening to the lyrics, the great instrumentation here is incredible.  I mean, you go from dancing to just kind of relaxing to just if you want to get up and get your salsa on, you can do it.  (Both laugh.)


Leila:  I had a lot of influences growing up, so it kind of translated into the music that way.  And it wasn’t something that I had predetermined, but it was a natural byproduct of where I grew up and the different kinds of music I listened to, so it seems like the logical thing to do to kind of express what you’ve experienced yourself.


Jazz Monthly:  Yeah, well, you know what?  I was amazed by also—and really impressed by the fact that you have 18 songs here.


Leila:  (Laughs.)


Jazz Monthly:  Wow!  And I’m saying “This is a lot of music, a lot of great music.”  Sometimes you might say “Well, I’ll throw in a song here and I’ll throw that in.”  These all contribute greatly to this album and they’re fantastic songs.  I mean, from start to finish it gives you such a journey of wonderful thoughts and the feeling of movement and just a beautiful vibe.


Leila:  Thank you, thank you.  The thing about being an independent artist, one of the blessings is that you really do get to determine your own fate and kind of go with your own creative flow, and there’s a lot of speculation as to what the right amount of music is to put out on an album and there’s a lot of rules, including how long your songs should be and whatnot, and I think that all of that is valid. 


It’s based on marketing and it’s based on people in the industry having the experience, but when you’re independent and you don’t have those limitations and you can kind of define for yourself, it’s so much more liberating, so I never determined a certain amount of songs to put on the CD.  I just sort of went with the flow and it felt done when it felt done, so to speak, so it ended up being that amount and I think some of them are shorter, obviously, than others and I have some that are quite long, and it’s kind of a hodgepodge, but it works because it really feels authentic and genuine.


Jazz Monthly:  Yes, it does.  And your voice and your creative style, I think, is so genuine.


Leila:  Thank you.


Jazz Monthly: Yes, because when I listened to these songs, from the very beginning you automatically sort of get into it because Leila’s singing about something that we’re familiar with, that’s common, and that we feel and not just hear.


Leila:  Thank you.


Jazz Monthly: Yeah, it’s just gorgeous.  For example, I love “Circle.”  (Both laugh.)


Leila:  A lot of people tend to like that one.  They’re like children (songs).  You’re proud of all of them and they’re your babies, so I vacillate between which ones are my favorites, but that one seems to be one of my favorites too.


Jazz Monthly:  Yeah, and I just love your phrasing in that song.  And, of course, now, “The Groove Song” I love, and it’s not just a groove song….Because it has a great deal of meaning.  “If You’re Gonna Leave.”


Leila:  Yeah.


Jazz Monthly:  I mean, if you can’t like that song and get into it, there’s something wrong, I’m sorry.  (Both laugh.)


Leila:  Well, I’m glad you’re very enthusiastic and you get the vibe and the message.  With my music, a lot of times they may be things that I’ve experienced myself, but a lot of times it’s what I’ve observed in my friends and my family.  You can get inspired by so many different things—something you hear on the news, something you see—so not everything that I’ve written about are things that I’ve personally experienced, but I’ve witnessed it and maybe seen it through the eyes of a friend or someone who was struggling with an issue. 


And with “If You’re Gonna Leave,” that song in particular is about people who feel like they are stuck and feel like they’re in a pattern they can’t get out of and how oftentimes they feel hopeless but, really, the power is within to make a difference and to make a change in your life.  So it’s more of a—I don’t want to call it a pep talk song, but it kind of is.  It’s about encouraging people to look within and that they can hold their head up high and make a change in their life.


Jazz Monthly:  Yeah, because so many times—and here again it’s all perspective, I think, for the most part—you hear songs about despair, but it’s great to hear songs about despair and the solution.  (Both laugh.)


Leila:  Yeah, that’s a funny way of putting it.  You’re right.  I mean, you know, I don’t believe that everything has a solution that you can neatly tie up in a bow, but I don’t think that in society we’re often given the tools or the solutions, or if you put on the evening news, it’s evident right there.  It’s everything that goes wrong and not enough of what’s going right, and at the end of the day, people have struggles but I do believe that they have within them the ability to get out.  I know that I’ve experienced that myself.


Jazz Monthly:  Yeah, so have I. But I think sometimes the focus is so much on the problem and not the solution that our energy has been used up on the problem.


Leila:  Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, I definitely agree with you.


Jazz Monthly: Yeah, because I think that sometimes if we channel some of that energy or all of it toward the solution, then the problem really is not really the problem.


Leila:  I believe that.  That’s a whole other discussion.


Jazz Monthly:  Yeah, I know. 


Leila:  But I really believe that.  I think it’s just about looking at what’s happening in your life and recognizing the areas that might need improvement or what is not making you happy, but how much time do you want to dwell on it.  And I understand there are people struggling with things that are so huge and seem insurmountable, but I do believe sooner or later there is a solution and oftentimes we’re not encouraged to look there.  There’s all kinds of reasons to keep dwelling in it and people that come into your life that kind of keep you down, and it would be so empowering to be able to say “Okay, I recognize what’s happening.  It’s something I want to change, but I really believe that within me is the ability to overcome it.”


Jazz Monthly:  Yes, so true.  What came first, the dancing or the singing? You’re a wonderful dancer.


Leila:  Thank you! The singing definitely.  That’s kind of like what came first?  The chicken or the egg?


Jazz Monthly:  Yeah.  (Both laugh.)


Leila:  The singing definitely.  The singing, in fact, came before anything.  I started singing when I was four years old and I have a lot of little cassettes of me singing and it was sort of my first love, followed closely, then, by the writing.  I began singing songs that were written by others and then discovered that I would be writing poetry or I would be writing stories, creative stories, and I was always kind of writing, and it sort of clicked, you know, why not take this creativity and these stories I’m writing and attempt to write a song.  I mean, really, a song is a three-minute story or a four-minute story.  So the singing came first and then the songwriting came after, and it wasn’t until years later that I delved into the dancing.


Jazz Monthly:  Nice…


Leila:  The dancing was just a love of the music and it’s just another way of expressing yourself, and it came because I was doing shows and once I kind of got over my stage fright and really connected with the audience, there was a need inside of me to move and to express myself a different way, and so I began taking some lessons just to become a little more comfortable on stage and more fluid, and lo and behold, it took on a life of its own.  (Both laugh.)  Almost to the point where I questioned if I was getting off track.  I struggled with not wanting to get off track and be taken as a dancer.  I really wanted the music to be the first thing people noticed or the songwriting, and I really struggled with that and held myself back from the dancing, but some friends and people that are close to me said “Why not embrace it all?  I mean, who says you have to choose?  Maybe it’s just another vehicle for your expression.”


Jazz Monthly: Yeah, why not?


Leila:  So I made peace with it.  (Laughs.)


Jazz Monthly:  Well, I’m so glad you did and I’m sure all of your fans are glad that you did, and I’m talking to all the fans out there right now.  You’ve gotta check out her DVD “Leila Live In Concert” and if you want to see dancing, you must see Leila do her thing.


Leila:  Oh gosh, I really appreciate that, but then you put on Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance and you see the level of mastery and I realize I’m certainly not in any way considering myself a dancer, but I do think I have like a dancer’s spirit within.


Jazz Monthly:  Oh yes.


Leila:  Bleeding to evolve.


Jazz Monthly:  Yes, in fact, in your live performances, the dancing is such an integral part of it.  I mean, if the dancing wasn’t there, I’d cry because it’s just such a great complement to all the great music on stage and all the wonderful things that are happening and the characters.


Leila:  Yeah.


Jazz Monthly:  The whole production is just magnificent.


Leila:  Thank you, thank you.  Referring to the live show, it was always a goal of mine to…well, I can’t say it was always a goal.  I think it was like an inner yearning, but I didn’t quite know what it was until I really stopped to think about what I wanted to express.  I had always sort of felt the need to write about unity and to express myself through different rhythms, and that’s why the CD has a lot of the different rhythms, the undertones, from flamenco to a little bit of salsa to a little bit of the samba rhythm.  All of that came naturally from within and alongside lyrics that talk about that unity, which is what “Circle” talks about.  And then when I thought about doing the live shows when we were first conceptualizing it and putting it together, I said to Bobbi [Tammaro aka Funkee Boy], “I really want to embody what the music is saying, musically I want to embody visually. 


I really feel like I need to have dancers from different countries and different cultures.  I want the stage show to be visual and be beautiful and be like a journey through different countries.”  And so that’s why the show has a segment that pays tribute to belly dancing, Middle Eastern dance, there’s African, there’s Brazilian rhythms, there’s a little bit of flamenco.  It came from wanting to have something beautiful to see, but also it made sense with the music, the concept.  I think it was just a complement.


Jazz Monthly:  Yes, and for those that haven’t seen your show, there’s some African rhythms, some African dancers, there’s Caribbean grooves and there’s South of the Border, you name it.


Leila:  It’s a stew.


Jazz Monthly: Yeah, but it’s so well choreographed and I love the innocence of what happens and then here comes the bang.  It is so cool, and I have to mention Bobbi Tammaro.


Leila:  Definitely.


Jazz Monthly:  Because he’s just an incredible producer, just a great music mind, period.


Leila:  Right, mm-hmm.


Jazz Monthly:  And I love what he does with your music and producing and with your live performances.  He’s just an incredible guy.


Leila:  Well, what makes him great, I mean, aside from his own creativity, because he has a creative voice and his own vision and his own way of, you know, obviously, with his own CD “Rise” you can see that, but what I’ve noticed is that whenever he’s worked with people, he’s never taken them out of who they are so he’s been able to produce and write music for country artists and R&B and different genres, and with me, he’s been able to give me my space as a creative person and I’ve never felt like I was being preached or told to do something or pigeonholed.


So it was allowed to just be what it is and he sort of just added his own flavor and that’s why the CD sounds a little eclectic, and I’m not saying it’s so off the beaten path, but it has rhythms and differences and nuances that I was able to express because he’s so open, and so when I said to him “As soon as we go into the live shows I’d like to do this, I’d like to have an African breakdown and a Capoeira artist from Brazil” and at first he looked at me like I had two heads on my shoulders, but he got it right away and he said “Well, that’ll be fun.”  I mean, it was a lot of work to put together, certainly, but it’s so rewarding to have somebody that gets it.


Jazz Monthly:  It reminds me of a Vegas production.


Leila:  Yeah.


Jazz Monthly: I mean, that show could do so well in Vegas, I thought.  I was like “Wow, I feel like I’m at the Venetian or something,” you know?


Leila:  People have said that, you know, people have said that.  I think that’s due largely in part to the costumes.


Jazz Monthly:  Yeah, everything’s so authentic and it’s great.


Leila:  That’s just part of the visual component that I wanted to bring because aside from taking people on a journey and watching the different dances and the different rhythms.  I wanted them to see the beauty of the different cultures when you look at a Middle Eastern outfit and a belly dance outfit, and you look at some of the African outfits—this took me seven months, actually, to put together, to find outfits.  I had ordered things from around the world, and the necklaces we use in the African section are hand beaded, they’re Masai warrior necklaces and wedding necklaces, and there are ceremonial shields, and I think I just wanted people to not only appreciate the rhythms and appreciate the music, but also appreciate the beauty, the artistry of the different cultures.


Jazz Monthly:  That’s great.  Well, the other thing I wanted to mention was…. you talk so much about your musical journey or journeys and I think that’s a beautiful thing.  Don’t you think that as an artist, each time you produce new music that it’s an exciting time….for many reasons?


Leila:  Mm.


Jazz Monthly: And in particular, if not for anyone else, for yourself, do you feel that you get to see a different side of you or another side, another facet of Leila that perhaps you did not know or perhaps something that is enlightening about yourself?


Leila:  You know, it’s funny you used the word “enlightening” because that really strikes a chord right now recently, because I think that music…well, any kind of art, whether it’s dance or the fine arts or music, I really believe it’s like a connection to spirit.  My personal belief is that there isn’t a job or career that’s less spiritual than any other.  I mean, it’s all worthy, it all has merit and purpose for being here.  There’s something, though, about the creative fields that it’s almost meditative.  You almost have to tune into something deep within and it’s, first of all, a way to express yourself if there’s emotions that you’ve bottled up, but beyond that, you’re sometimes tuning into something where you feel like it’s almost taking over and it’s coming through you but it’s not from you.  I don’t know if that sounds a little strange.


Jazz Monthly:  I think I know what you’re saying.


Leila:  But there’s been times when I’ve written songs that I can say I’ve clearly been influenced by something I saw or read or something I experienced, but there’s other times when I feel like the song almost wrote itself, like it was something that I was feeling and I’m not sure why I felt it and I just sort of brainstormed and I ended up with something that I felt was profound.  And so to get back to your question about enlightening, that process is very enlightening and you can discover maybe it’s facets of yourself you didn’t know or maybe it’s just your ability to tune in and put a voice to something, and that you see someone who, let’s say as an example, is going through something that’s very hard in their life and to tune into that emotion and to be able to write a song about that almost feels like you’re giving that person a voice or a current event.  So it’s such a process and it’s so different every time and I do definitely learn as I go and I think it develops deeper.


Jazz Monthly:  Mm-hmm, and it starts with you perhaps, but once that music goes out to everyone else, can you imagine how it touches others?


Leila:  Oh, that’s the ultimate, that is the ultimate goal.


Jazz Monthly: Yeah, so it’s a beautiful thing with music and I’m so happy that you did this record because I think it’s a very beautiful and well written album, in particular, that I feel like it reaches people and I think it touches them in a positive way, which is seriously cool.


Leila:  Thank you, thank you.  And it’s funny because I’m already six songs into my next one.  (Both laugh.)  And now I can look back at the one we’re discussing right now, which is Of Life, and I can truly say—in fact, I had talked to Bobbi about this a couple days ago—there are still the songs off of that first CD that still hold profound meaning for me today and they still make me feel connected and I still feel a sense of excitement when I hear them.  I know sometimes you can get, you know, what is the word?  You can become tired of something that you’ve heard over and over and over again, overwhelmed, but there are some of those songs on that CD that I still feel like when I hear them I get right back to that place when I first wrote them.  There’s that instant connection.


Jazz Monthly: Yes, that’s strength in the music, you know?


Leila:  Well, I think I just feel like it was a moment in time when I wrote them, it was special in that moment, and I feel—maybe every artist feels this way, that their newer material is stronger.  I definitely think some of the songs I’m writing now are even stronger or they’re even more profound for me, but it’s nice to be able to go back to some of the other songs and still feel a connection.


Jazz Monthly: I love the photography on the album as well.


Leila:  Thank you.


Jazz Monthly:  Wow, it’s a great package.  It’s just wonderful music, the liner notes, everything has something to say, something to reach the audience with, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.  And the DVD, oh, what can I say about the DVD?  The live in concert DVD is just a beautiful arrangement of music.  And I like Fernando.  He is a cool cat.


Leila:  Oh my goodness.  Fernando.  He’s phenomenal, he really is.  He’s a dear, dear friend of mine.  He’s just an unbelievable choreographer and he embodies in his dancing and in his choreography what I strive to do musically, which is he sort of tunes into something else and it’s almost otherworldly because he becomes a completely different person on stage.  I’ll tell you, though, we’ve bumped heads.  I think what’s funny is creative people can sometimes really clash.


Jazz Monthly:  Oh yeah.


Leila:  And we joke about it.  He’s like “You’re like the sister I never had and love to hate” or something like that.  (Both laugh.)  But that’s what makes it fiery and it makes it really great.  It’s like a yin yang, it’s opposites, and there’s gotta be a balance.


Jazz Monthly:  Yes indeed.  But in the show you guys are all just fantastic and I think the whole world needs to see the show because the live performance is just something to behold and be a part of because there are so many things happening.  The backup singers are incredible and the dancers are just phenomenal, and then with you out front and there’s Bobbi over there groovin’ and…


Leila:  It really is great.  It’s such a blessing, it really is.  We don’t do many performances by the regular standard meaning because there are bands that play almost every weekend and in a way I envy that because it’s such an incredible feeling, but because we’re so elaborate, we have so many elements that piece this show together, a lot of people come together putting their energies into it to make it happen, so it’s not always conducive to an every weekend sort of thing. There are schedules and there’s other creative projects people are working on, so we try to look at all of our opportunities and pick the ones that we feel would be the most rewarding for the people on stage and that we feel we can make an impact.


Jazz Monthly:  Right.  Well, that’s great.


Leila:  Yeah, thank you.


Jazz Monthly:  Something else I noticed, especially looking at the DVD…. with some singers sometimes they want to really let you know that they can reach just the highest range with their voice and that becomes their signature.


Leila:  Mm-hmm.


Jazz Monthly:  But with you I noticed that you know where you can go and where you can really strike a chord, but you don’t always go there.  It’s such a phenomenal voice but yet a disciplined, controlled one in that the expression is always apropos to what you’re singing about.  I think that’s a beautiful thing to be able to do that.


Leila:  Oh, thank you.  You know, it’s amazing.  That means so much to me now because I actually struggled with insecurities about that growing up and singing.  When you first turn on the radio and you start emulating and adoring some favorite singers and you haven’t developed your own sense of identity, oftentimes you can try to become something you’re not or imitate, and I learned quickly where my strengths were.  I’m an alto voice, which is the lower of the range…and I’m not sure if you’re aware of the vocal differences between alto, tenor and soprano.


Jazz Monthly:  Yes.


Leila:  So in the female voice range, the alto is the lower, and I for some reason had gotten it in my head as a younger child that I didn’t want to be an alto, I wanted to be a soprano and I want to hit those high notes.  I will just belt and strain and push and I would get throat infections and you name it, and finally, I don’t even know how it happened, I know that it started with a vocal instructor telling me “But Leila, your voice is a lower voice, it’s a richer voice, that’s your bread and butter, that’s what you should embrace, don’t try to be something you’re not.”  And he made me love where I was at and embrace what I had and work with that, and what was amazing is that once I relaxed and embraced what I had and I just attempted to polish what I had and work with what I had, interestingly enough, the higher notes came. 


It was almost like when I chased it and pursued it and beat it to the ground, it wasn’t gonna be there.  When I let it go and I sort of went “You know what?  I embrace what I have and I’m gonna work with what I have,” then maybe because I didn’t constrict, maybe there was less emotional stress or strain, somehow I built a higher range that way.  Now, I never became a soprano, but what’s interesting is I stopped wanting to be, so I’m happy where I’m at and I think that it became, thankfully so, more about what I wanted to say with the song and with the words than it did about vocal gymnastics.  But having said that, I have to say I really, really still admire and love…many of my favorite singers definitely have amazing ranges and if it can be done with authenticity, that’s the best.


Jazz Monthly:  Yes, and that’s where I think you are and what impressed me is that whatever range, wherever you were on the charts, you were where you were supposed to be emotionally and passionately in the context of what you were singing about, and I think that’s great.


Leila:  Oh, thank you.  That means a lot.


Jazz Monthly: Oh, you’re welcome.  So now you’re working on the new record?


Leila:  Yes, it’s great.


Jazz Monthly:  Wow, man, that’s exciting because I’m enjoying this one and it’s like you mean there’s more?


Leila:  Yeah, you know, oh gosh, it’s so funny.  We’re always writing and doing projects with people, collaborating, and the creative process never really stops here.  But I really believe that sometimes things come to fruition when they’re really meant to, meaning like just as you can’t rush a gourmet meal, there’s a certain time frame it takes to make a roast and it’s different than toasting a piece of bread.


Jazz Monthly:  Right.


Leila:  I was recording and I was writing, but nothing really seemed to say “second album” quite yet, and all of a sudden something clicked, oh, I would say maybe five months ago or so, where the writing I was doing and the recording I was doing, it began to tell a story and it began to have some cohesiveness and I went “Okay, well, what I’m doing here is creating my second album,” like it sort of burst itself, and now I’m so excited because I’ve had a lot of introspection and I thought about the world and I thought about what I want to do and I thought about myself on a personal level, so all of that is really coming forward.


I think that while I touched on the unity and the self-empowerment of life, I think that this one will delve into it even more so because I realize there’s really a need for people to reconnect with something inside of them that’s really precious and divine that feels powerful and feel like they can change, and I really want to put out a very positive album that leaves people feeling like they can, and so it’s really exciting and, needless to say, it’s become like my favorite now.


Jazz Monthly:  Yeah, well, we all write when we feel something to write about.  It’s something that we feel that the world should hear.  Yeah, I think it’s great, and especially if it moves you personally, I think that is just the motivational key to write and express yourself, yeah, absolutely.


Leila:  Ideally, yes, because I’ve tried it the other way too because sometimes it’s really hard to balance inspiration with just sheer will or sheer discipline.  There’s the “I should” and then there’s the “I want to just allow.”  There’s like a battle between the two when I want to write a song and I’m doing it because I think I should and I haven’t for a while, and the logical, “productive” side of me takes over.  There’s nothing bad with that because you need a little bit of that to move you forward, but then what happens is it’s contrived, whereas if I just sort of back away and just accept that you know what?  Right now is a bit of a dry spell for me or I’m not finding inspiration, let me go do something, whether it’s take a yoga class or have coffee with a friend or sit in a park or whatever, and oftentimes that’s what you need.  It just helps to get you out of your stuck mode and then you come back and it can really be authentic.  And an example of it, actually, is a song that I just finished writing two days ago.  Bobbi had created the instrumental track for me, oh, I’ve gotta say maybe seven months ago, and I remember loving it when I heard it.  I mean, it was fabulous, but nothing would come out.  I mean, it just…and I sat there going “What is wrong with me?  This is such a great track.”  And all of a sudden I just sort of put it aside because I had frustration.  Well, at the earlier of this week I sat with it and the song flowed within two hours.


Jazz Monthly: Amazing.


Leila:  I said “Now, did this take seven months to kind of like marinate?”  But I equate everything to food.  When you’re Spanish, that’s what happens.  (Both laugh.)  You’ll find a lot of my analogies have to do with food, baking, marinating and roasting.


Jazz Monthly:  Ooh, that sounds good.  Oh, wow, but that’s fantastic.  So I can’t wait to hear some more of this new music too.


Leila:  Yeah, I’ll be definitely getting you some of the pre-released tracks.


Jazz Monthly:  And you will probably be putting some things on your My Space page, of course, and your Facebook and how many sites?


Leila:  I have to admit I’m a bit of an Internet junkie, so I think there’s about three Web sites I have.  Any place that I find that could be a powerful outlet—and I guess that’s what I would also say as advice to independent artists out there, but I’m sure they’ve been there, done that.  I mean, most of them are doing what I’m about to say, but for those that are just beginning, you can never lose by putting yourself out there and there really are some amazing Web sites you can be on that if nothing else, they just feel rewarding.  It’s an outlet for you to express yourself and to be heard, and what an amazing blessing it is for someone in, say, China to click on one of your song links while you’re sleeping on the other side of the world, they’re listening to your music.


It is just so empowering because like I’m having a great day today, I’m in a great place, and creatively I’m feeling fine, but I might be feeling down next week.  I go through my ups and downs, and I go through discouragement and all that, and it’s such a gift to be able to log onto a Web site and get an e-mail or a small message from someone saying in their broken English “I enjoyed your song” or “I love this” or “I love that” and you say “Wow.”  See, that’s the one person I never would have reached if I didn’t put myself up there on this Web site and that could be any of them, there’s a million of them, but it’s so powerful and then it becomes about you just want to write and you want to sing and you want to express yourself because it’s what you want to do and it’s less of a numbers thing.  Because that one person in China that heard your song, you don’t really know that they might have needed to hear the very thing that you had to put out.


Jazz Monthly:  Yeah, exactly.


Leila:  And what a shame it would be if you didn’t, and that goes with anything in life, really.  You never know the impact you’re having on people.


Jazz Monthly: Yes, and I think you’re right about the Internet.  There’s so many positive things about getting your music out there, getting yourself out there, and I tell ya, you’ve got great video footage on your Website and your My Space page.  Just a wealth of things to delve into, so it’s really cool.


Leila:  Thank you, and recently on my My Space I put a little video player at the bottom of my My Space page that features videos from You Tube that I had found that are non-music-related but are videos of people doing acts of kindness and good things, and just really heartwarming videos, and the reason I added it was because I realize that it’s not just music and art, it’s people from every walk of life making a difference and I thought, in a nutshell, if I could wave a magic wand, I would have so much exposure to my page and they would become aware of my music on a global level, but what if that happens, how great would it be to also give exposure to people who are doing amazing things that you just don’t hear about on the news?  So it became like a sort of…I’m not sure what the word is, but in my effort to kind of expose people doing great work, I thought I would give them a little corner on my page and I think it’s good energy.


Jazz Monthly:  It is.  Is that your Positive Vibes corner?


Leila:  Yes.  Oh, you’re aware of it.


Jazz Monthly:  Oh yeah, I look around.


Leila:  Yeah, you know, it’s really amazing because I know that just as I as a singer/songwriter draw from life, well, what is life?  Life is your neighbor, life is the person next door with a story to tell, life is the person across the street who you don’t know and you wonder what their story is all about.  And, well, on You Tube it gets you a chance to kind of see a cross-section of things and I came across these amazing videos of people doing some great things and I said “Wow.”  I’m drawing from this kind of thing in my writing.  It’s only fair that I also put it out there on my page and it’s just part of kind of being part of something really positive.


Jazz Monthly:  Yes, we need more of that.


Leila:  Kind of like what you’re doing.  I mean, it’s so valuable.


Jazz Monthly:  Well, thank you.


Leila:  It’s really valuable because you’re taking a passion and a love for music and what a service you’re creating for people.  Your enthusiasm, you’re finding music that isn’t quite heard, and you’re exposing it as well as artists, I know, that are more nationally known, but you’re shining a spotlight on it all and you never know who could be inspired by what you’re doing, and I think it’s a wonderful thing.


Jazz Monthly:  Well, thank you.


Leila:  It’s all about using your passion.


Jazz Monthly: Yes, thank you very much.  I’m blushing a little bit.  (Laughs.), but that’s okay.


Leila:  It’s true.  (Both laugh.)  It’s true because someone like me, for instance, appreciates so much the opportunity and it could be some 15-year-old prodigy down the street next who would get an opportunity such as this and feel so empowered and so motivated because you gave them the time of day.  So in a way it may seem like just an article and an interview, but you’re providing therapy also.  (Laughs.)


Jazz Monthly:  Oh, thank you so much.  I wish I could do more.  I mean, there’s only so much you can put out there at one time.


Leila:  Of course.


Jazz Monthly:  But I wish I could put everyone out there.


Leila:  I’m sure.


Jazz Monthly: But I’m working on it and it’s kind of like how Bobbi always talks about the power of one, you know?


Leila:  Mm-hmm, absolutely, absolutely, and he’s doing his part with his radio show.


Jazz Monthly:  Yes, he is and it’s wonderful.  I love what he’s doing at www.citysoundsradio.com Yes indeed.  Well, Leila, thank you so much for this wonderful music, the great video.


Leila:  Thank you.


Jazz Monthly: And we certainly look forward to the new music coming out soon.


Leila:  I cannot wait.  You know, it’s funny.  I’m getting all giddy and that’s a good thing.  I just can’t wait to get out.  It’ll be called Soul Ascension.


Jazz Monthly:  Oh, great.  So will you come back and talk about the new record when it’s finished?


Leila:  Absolutely, absolutely.  As a matter of fact, I will be doing…well, I have begun to do what I did with Of Life, which is put out a few like sneak peek sort of prerelease tracks on my My Space.  I always do that to kind of give people a sampler before the CD comes out and it gets people listening to it and it’s sort of my way also to kind of let them know I am working on something and I’m giving them a sampler.


Jazz Monthly:  Oh, so cool.  Well, best of everything with this current record and the new one coming, and also this wonderful DVD that I love so much.


Leila:  Thank you.


Jazz Monthly:  We’ve talking with the effervescent and so talented, Leila. Her great new record is called “Of Life”. Please go to her Website and Myspace page and get this CD, it’s that good! Leila, all the best with your career and everything that you’re doing in touching so many lives in such a positive way in 2008 and beyond, my friend.


Leila:  Oh, thank you so much, Smitty.



Baldwin “Smitty” Smith



For More Information Visit www.leilasworld.com and www.myspace.com/leilasworld