Leah West
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Leah West

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada | SELF | AFTRA

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada | SELF | AFTRA
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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"BCIMA - 2011"

As many across the globe know, Bryan Adams has a hit song called “She’s Got A Way” and in it he expresses how naked and totally exposed he feels in a relationship with a woman, how she seems to know him so intimately. Well, the BCIMA’S most certainly provided that and more. From intimate moments such as Friday evening’s Songwriter’s Workshop in which two-time BCIMA 2011 winner Mike Gouchie was quoted as saying that “Here we are up here, we are totally naked and exposed up here, very raw”, to the humbling acceptance speeches from award winners such as this year’s People’s Choice award winner Leah West who was quote in her acceptance speech as saying “To my wonderful Mark, who has supported me through many many of my ups and downs, thank you and I love you….I don’t what else to say, I am really touched, this is really moving, touching time in my life and one way or another I have been waiting my whole life for this moment, so thank you”, and Instrumental Recording Artist of the Year Chris Madsen who also said in his acceptance speech so vulnerably “This is a beautiful truth for all of us is that every one of us has a beautiful song within us and it’s our life. And in any moment of our life, the moment you say ‘I love you’ or just express (it) somehow, in that moment, you have created the song, and you get this award”, the 2011 British Columbia Interior Music Awards, now known as the British Columbia Indie Music Awards, were nothing short of awe inspiring and amazing.

Coming from a background where I have been involved in the music business in some form or another for many years as both a music manager and in other music related elements, I have seen all too often how musicians can let it all go to their head and be very much in ego. I have also seen how the music industry is often all about that same ego and how award shows can be very superficial and all about the glitz and glamour rather than the whole reason we are all there to begin with - the music, which is our heart and soul.

I am very honoured to say that the BCIMA’s this year were lacking, and I say this in a very sincere and meaningful way. This year’s BCIMA’s were lacking in ego and pretentious arrogance. We here in the Okanagan really know how to show Canada, and the whole world for that matter, that it really is about the music and the heart and soul of the musician, rather than about pomp and circumstance and who is better than another.

It was extremely touching to see this right from the beginning, even before the actual awards themselves began. One could say that the awards really kicked off with the weekend’s workshops. Within the Songwriter’s Workshop was a panel of musicians from such a wide variety of genres, most of whom rarely knew one another, and yet all of whom came together in a collaborative co-creation that was as if they had all known one another their whole lives and were the best of friends at that. This coupled with this year’s BCIMA three-time nominee Jane Eamon, who was originally scheduled to be the ‘leader’ of this workshop (only finding out a short time before this that she was to be the ‘leader’), how she graciously made it a group effort rather than it being all about her as I have seen other workshop presenters do in workshops I have attended over the years, was nothing short of humbling.

The music and the wisdom given in those moments of that workshop from each of the five artists there really touched my heart deeply in many ways and gave credence to what their message and legacy is that is beyond the awards themselves. Twice during the workshop, both Mike Gouchie and Leah West had issues with their guitars/cables and without even a second thought, Jane Eamon and Greg Sczebel helped their fellow musicians by holding their cables during the whole of the song played. There was no sense of ‘oh this is beneath me to do this’ or any of the cattiness I have seen plague other award shows and workshops. Truly a sense of grace, style, class, and above all true camaraderie and heart-warming love was felt in those moments.

And that sense of kinship was free from stopping there. Even before the show began, the flow of the artists, media, and family/friends in the lobby had all the markings of a real hometown feel intermixed with professionalism and lightheartedness. Then, from our first glimpse of the evening’s award show, when the beautiful native drummers and singers came out in honouring our homelands aboriginal roots and music, which then flowed into a beautiful song performed by this year’s Roots/World Recording Artist of the Year Adham Shaikh (and featuring Melissa Meretsky from Wassabi Collective) about ‘love the water, keep the vibe high’; a perfect rhythmic vocal expression about the universal truth of conscious creation and co-creation, topped with a most exotic belly dancer, was a sheer delight.

Featuring Astral Radio’s Mark Burley as this year’s Master of Ceremonies, with a wit and perfectly balanced humorous charm, the award presentations were exquisite. Greg Sczebel kicked off the night with his winning for Songwriter of the Year (Greg winning a total of eight smashing coveted awards in the evening, in which a witty Mark Burley, then in veering off of the script as he did in many facetious moments, then made Greg the satiristic pun of the evening which was beloved by all including Greg, who when asked about such, was quoted at the after party as saying to me ‘I know, it was really funny and I didn’t mind at all actually’), followed by Wasabi Collective’s win for Urban Dance Recording of the Year, and then followed by Concept Collaboration Recording of the Year going to Jude Davidson.

Of particular jocosity was when award winner Mike Gouchie was announced as the Aboriginal Recording Artist of the Year and Mr. Gouchie was nowhere to be found! It seems (and was revealed in his heartfelt and yet lighthearted speech) that he was backstage rehearsing for his then later captivating performance of the title track of his album “Shattered Glass”, and no one had informed him that his category was even being announced let alone that he has won such an honour! Brad Krauza, presenter of this award from Gonzo Online, took it all in stride and was very professional in his composure and the whole thing really had us all quite amused.

Intermixed with the remaining twenty-one awards to be given in the evening (including Engineer of the Year to Jim LeGuilloux, New Artist of the Year and Blues Recording of the Year to Thomas Kjorven, Folk Traditional Recording of the Year to Miss Quincy, Metal Recording of the Year to Zen Rising, and Single of the Year and 2011 Special Achievement Award to Andrew Allen), were stunning and dazzling performances by the likes of Aidan Mayes and Ari Neufield performing their beautiful song “Strawberries and Roses”, breathtaking performance in giving their all were Kira Gosselin and the Heart to Heart Choir, Darby Mills’ electrifying performance featuring both the YounGuns and our talented young artists from Wentworth Music School and dancers from the Canadian School of Ballet, energetic offerings by Virgin Radio’s “Best of BC’s” artist Kate Morgan, and Leah West’s captivating performance of her song “Orange Bliss”. Announcements of the who’s who that have been asked to perform at our summer’s upcoming festivals, such as, Rarearth Music Festival who will be featuring Greg Sczebel, Funtastic who will be featuring Rock Recording Artist of the Year Trinity’s Tattoo, and Merritt Mountain Fest who will be featuring both Country/Bluegrass Recording of the Year nominee Cynthia Leigh-Ann and winner Mike Gouchie (in this same category) in their festivals this year were also part of the celebration during the evening.

To further show that our artists here in the Okanagan are egoless, all rallied in support of our eight-time winner of the evening Greg Sczebel, whose riveting performance had us all dancing and clapping in our seats (and some of us standing and dancing too!) to cap off the evening’s event.

While no one doubts that Mark Greenhalgh and Shelly Vida put on a phenomenal show this year for our BCIMA’s, and no one would shirk them their due for the astronomical amount of hours put into this, I would be amiss if I were to be free from giving homage to the someone else’s. There are many here to give acknowledgment to, way too many to list in this article indeed. However, I will say, to all of you, the men and women of the crew and all who made this amazing evening possible in every way and you know who you all are, yes you, those whose names we may never know, thank you. Without you, there is no way that any of us could have been there or do what we do, give what we give.

There is yet another group that I desire to acknowledge as well…two actually. One is all the nominees. All too often the ones who are nominated such as the James Avery’s or the Jodi Pederson’s or the John Lee Sander’s of the world get glossed over in the lime light of those who have won. To all those who are nominees, I would like to offer this to you – that to me, you are all winners, you are all stars, award or no award. Because you understand that it’s not just about the awards. Yes it is wonderful to win, no doubt. And all the same, to be nominated is a great honour in and of itself and it is really about the heart and the soul of it all which is the music and the message that you give. As Leah West so eloquently stated to Jodi Pederson on her Facebook wall the day after the awards, “Yes, keep shining Jodi! I was up for 3 awards in 2009…Won nothing. I was up for 4 awards in 2011 and came home with 1. We keep at it because we love it and it's in our blood and we encourage our friends to do the same.” So I thank you all for continuing to shine your light, for it is you that make music beautiful.

And lastly, to all the unsung heroes, as I began this piece with here with Leah West’s beautiful acknowledgement, there are so many of us, myself included, who are the woman/man behind the musician, or the volunteer, or the stage crew, or the camera man; the family and friends, significant others and music managers and all of you who so often go unnoticed. Who give their all within holding the family together, providing the inspiration (or the swift kick in the butt when needed), or the late nights and ups and downs as Leah said, to have our musicians and award presenters and Master’s of Ceremonies and such shine. All of you in articles go unnoticed all too often. So here is a thank you to you, for all you do and all you give to help our musicians and all shine.

This is my inaugural article for Gonzo Online I am happy to say. And just like the BCIMA’s certainly had a way this year of touching the heart and soul, the spirit and love, of the music and the musicians themselves, I too hope to bring such to you in future pieces. I will be writing from the heart, giving in-depth interviews of our musicians here in BC. Touching, moving, and inspiring you to see the real, raw, vulnerable, and from the heartiness’ of the musician behind the music; being totally naked and exposed, revealing all and holding back none, and their legacy that they desire to leave for us all. BCIMA’s, kudos to you, you really do GOT A WAY!

Nenari Diamond - http://www.diamondlady.net
More on the BCIMA’s – www.bcima.org - Gonzo Magazine


"TRANSCENDING BORDERS – SONGWRITER LEAH WEST"

TRANSCENDING BORDERS – SONGWRITER LEAH WEST
Posted by okcollection on Sunday, May 8, 2011

Congratulations to Leah West – Winner of the 2011 BCIMA People’s Choice Award

“Ultimately, you have to choose your own destiny and your own home. We only get one life, so it’s important to live where you want to live and do what you want to do,” Leah West muses, reflecting on why she has chosen to call the BC Okanagan her home. After a twelve-hour day at the recording studio, the Kelowna-based singer-songwriter is still excited to talk about the passion that drives her and the inspiration she has found in the heart of British Columbia.

Nominated for “Songwriter of the Year”, “Pop/Contemporary Recording of the Year”, and “Single of the Year” for the 2011 BC Interior Music Awards, Leah West is also one of the Top 6 Finalists in the People’s Choice category. The People’s Choice Awards are based upon fan votes, and from previous years, it is clear the public knows talent when they encounter it. Last year’s BCIMA winner, Andrew Allen, received a two-year deal with Epic Records.

“To be nominated for the BCIMA Awards is to be amongst an elite group of talent and is a huge honour,” West says humbly.
Originally from a New Jersey town near New York City, Leah West chose to make Kelowna her home in 2005. Although she has lived in New York City, Los Angeles, Costa Rica, Colorado, Lake Tahoe, and Big Sky, Montana, she fell in love with the Okanagan after attending the Okanagan Wine Festival in 2002. It took only a few more visits for this artist to decide that Kelowna was the place for her.

As a lover of the outdoors and avid skier, boater, kayaker, mountain biker, and photographer, she was drawn by the Okanagan’s four-season allure. Whether taking a hike with her dog or heading out on the water, it is a place that feeds her soul. Combine that with the energy and diversity of the Canadian music scene within the valley, and West knew it was where she wanted to put down roots.

“Canada is a very supportive environment for all types of music and arts,” she explains. “And Kelowna just felt like home. It’s a truly inspiring place.”
This multi-faceted talent – who has worked as an actress, model, and dancer, and visual artist – spent several years in Hollywood, where she had small roles in films featuring Kate Hudson, Tom Cruise, and Annette Benning. Her deepest passion, however, has always been music.

In recent years Leah West has channeled her creative energy into singing and songwriting. Since 2004, she has collaborated with producer Marty Rifkin, who has worked with stars such as Elton John, Leanne Rimes, Jewel, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam, and Tom Petty. Rifkin admires West’s authenticity and willingness to take chances, and thinks she has the “it factor” and raw talent to rise to the top.

Described as indie/pop/folk/rock – but artfully stepping outside of any conventional genre boundaries – Leah West’s music has a genuine quality and passion that enables listeners to connect with her music on myriad emotional levels. “I write from the heart and draw upon personal experiences,” she explains. After listening to her music, it is easy to sense the quiet intimacy she shares via her songs. “Yet as much as my art draws from my life, I think a song should have a million definitions – it should have its own story while at the same time have a story for each listener and become what they make it.”

Musically, West’s influences span a broad spectrum of genres and artists, including Sarah McLachlan, Peter Gabriel, and Sheryl Crow. Her songs range from upbeat melodies to ethereal ballads. They are infused with a wide range of musical roots, but all tracks possess originality and a unique signature sound.

“An artist just creates the universe that surrounds them,” West observes, noting that there is no limit to her inspiration – whether stemming from nature, relationships, love, or pain. An accomplished pianist and guitar player, sometimes a note or melody will inspire her, while other times ideas unfold in words. Because she never knows when an idea will emerge, she carries a tape recorder in her purse.

“Once I started recording in the studio,” she muses, “I realized how much I needed – not wanted – to sing. When I realized how essential it was… and that it was the way how I would share my ideas and myself with the world. That’s when I became a singer.”

Leah West’s commitment has only intensified in recent years. While preparing to independently release her first album, “Beyond Words” – which received critical acclaim and a wide following upon its July 2009 debut – a dear friend died of breast cancer. Ever resilient and positive, West did not let the devastating loss crush her. Rather, she is inspired by some of the last words her friend spoke to her: “Life is short. Go live it.” And Leah West is determined to do just that.
Since 2009, life has certainly been full for West. After the release of “Beyond Words”, she toured from coast to coast in the US and Canada alongside musician Tom Stinson. She also made numerous performances on television and radio, and her work has garnered attention across the globe. Already, she has achieved an astounding following. She is consistently among the top three Canadian artists on the global music site Reverbnation, and is #136 on the site internationally. Her songs have over 1.6 million plays on MySpace.

Deeply attuned to connecting with fans on a grassroots level, West has maintained an interactive website and blog for years, available at LeahWest.com. She loves hearing from fans from all over Canada and the world, and is always surprised when they are astounded to find out it was “actually Leah” who wrote back to them. In an age when celebrities’ “personal” social networking venues are often professionally authored press machines and disconnected from the artist, fans are refreshed to know they are interacting with Leah herself. She genuinely values the emotional investment and connection that flows both ways. She feels lucky to be able to express feelings that some people aren’t able to articulate, at once opening herself up and hopefully opening something up within her audience. The rapport she has established with fans leading up to the BC Interior Music Awards is just the beginning of something much larger.

Her next album, “Parachute”, will be released summer 2011. Among its tracks will be two duets with Kelowna-based musician Ryan Donn, who has been featured on MTV and other major stations. She is also looking forward to playing at various festivals and venues, ranging from Parks Alive to the Relay for Life to Sun Peaks.
A prolific songwriter, Leah West continues writing not just for her own albums but also for multiple soundtracks for television and movies. She has written over 150 songs so far, in genres including rock, pop, folk, alternative, country, blues, and dance. To translate some of her songs into French – one of three languages in which she is fluent – West is working with Louis Royer, a poet-singer-songwriter and performance group director based in Montreal. She cherishes the balance between song writing and singing, and loves to see her work transcend not just genres but also languages and geographic borders. Her interest in diverse cultures even inspired her to contribute to a three-year documentary project chronicling indigenous medicine practitioners in Costa Rica.

In all her trajectories, West is grateful to be passionate about what she is doing. Even with long days in the recording studio, her directions are not just about going to work – they are about following a calling. Yet she is also pragmatic, and is a forerunner in utilizing social media to advance her career and fan base in an economic climate that demands ingenuity and going beyond traditional business models to share her music. She is thrilled to have so many fans support her as a finalist in the BC Interior Music Awards, and at the same time admires the talent of her competitors.

“At the end of the day we have all worked so hard to get to this stage – we’ve all earned it,” she says. “The contest is an incredible opportunity. Beyond that, it is just inspiring to come this far and feel the support of so many people. While it would be incredible to win, I don’t expect it; that would be a very happy surprise.”
From the BC Interior Music Awards and far beyond, Leah West’s journey is one well worth following as she advances to become a rising star in the Canadian music scene. Having found her inspirational home and the passion that drives her life, this artist and cultural entrepreneur is taking every step to follow her belated friend’s advice and “go live it”.

By: Joanna Cockerline - Okanagan Collection Magazine


"The Peverett Phile Pheaturing Leah West"

The Peverett Phile

http://thepeverettphile.blogspot.com/2010/11/pheaturing-leah-west.html

Okay, today's guest is a beautiful and very talented singer from Kelowna, British Columbia, who has a her debut album out called "Beyond Words". She'll be playing tonight at Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna, BC, Canada. so, screw the Harry Potter movie and go jump on a plane. I would go but "The Good Guys" are on tonight. Anyway, please welcome to the Phile... Leah West.

Me: Bonjour, Leah, welcome to the Phile. So, how are you?

Leah: Bonjour Jason! I'm doing really well, thanks for asking. And you? or... et vous?

Me: I am doing okay, thanks. Okay, first I have to say I purchased your album "Beyond Words" off from iTunes and really liked it. It's your first album, right?

Leah: Wow, for the interview, I would have gladly sent you a free copy. But I assure you every bit does help go towards the next album, so thank you for purchasing my album on itunes! Yes, it's my first official album. I've done demos, but this is the first full length album and I'm so happy with it.

Me: How long did it take you to record it? It came out last year I think, am I right?

Leah: Yes, it's called "Beyond Words" and it was released July 2009. Marty and I usually finish about a song a day, and a few days to mix and master. That being said, the album took a few years because of money and the writing process and then choosing the right songs for the debut album.

Me: You sing beautifully in English, but that's not your first language. Your first language is French, right? I am English so don't hold that against me.

Leah: I definitely won't hold it against you because my first language was also English. In fact, French is my third language. Spanish is my second. I grew up in the US, and both parents spoke English. My father's mother was of French decent, but I never knew her. I'm mostly Irish with a little French, Czech and Hungarian in my ethnic background. And thanks for saying that I sing beautifully.

Me: So, you're not French? Sorry. Where abouts were you born?

Leah: I'm American second generation. My mother's parents were both born in Ireland. I was born in New Jersey. I've lived all over including New York City; Los Angeles; Costa Rica; Boulder, Colorado; Lake Tahoe; Big Sky, Montana; and finally settled in Canada in 2005 after visiting for a few years and fell in love with a place called Kelowna in British Columbia.

Me: One of my number one favorite bands is from Canada... The Barenaked Ladies. Are you a fan of them? Who do you listen to?

Leah: I love those guys, such great tunes. Oh my list of favourites goes on and on. I listen to everything from pop, rock, folk, dance, country, classical, jazz, blues, new age. I love it all. Good music is good music no matter the genre.

Me: Did I hear right that you grew up in New York? Did you live in the city? What was that like?

Leah: I grew up just outside New York City in a town called Upper Montclair, New Jersey. I loved it. It's such a melting pot of cultures and such a diverse group of people from all types of backgrounds. I loved being so close to the city where it's just a high saturation of the arts.

Me: Congrats on finishing in the top 3 of 3 categories of the 2009 BCIMA Awards. What were the 3 catergories and what is the BCIMA Awards?

Leah: Oh, I have to try and remember... I think the categories were Folk Song of the Year, Pop Song of the Year and Best New Artist. I'm pretty sure that's right. BCIMA are to recognize all the artists and industry people in British Columbia outside of the Vancouver area. BC is a huge province, about the size of California, Oregon and Washington all put together. Lots of incredible talent right here in the valley I live in including Andrew Allen, who just got signed to Epic; Ryan Donn, a good friend who has had much radio success; and Daniel Powter who wrote the mega-famous hit "Bad Day" to name a few.

Me: There was a huge controversy about your song "Spring" being ripped off for Eurovision. Can you tell the story, Leah? And a lot of my readers are American and probably don't know what Eurovision is. It's the competition that gave us ABBA!

Leah: I actually never heard of Eurovision myself despite the fact that it dwarfs our little "American Idol". Eurovision is a contest involving almost all of the European countries and it's similar is format to "American Idol" or "America's Got Talent". Yes, it gave us ABBA and Celine Dion! Producers in Slovakia used my song "Spring", the same exact arrangements, same melodies, same production from beginning to end and pretended that they wrote the song, put Slovakian lyrics to it and had a beautiful singer enter the song into Eurovision. Somehow, by the weirdest coincidence ever, one of my fans recognized the song and told me about it. I hold legal copyright. I cannot imagine why these apparently reputable producers would risk their career to do such a thing. Just ridiculous really. They hardly changed a note in the whole song. Even teenage girls in Slovakia were writing me saying they recognized it was the same song. It's such a bizarre story that it made headlines around the world! Despite my panic and much wasted energy when this all began, I've also had a lot of press and fan support over the matter, so it has been a strange blessing in some ways.

Me: Don't feel too bad...my dad had a song stolen from a hotel room. Everything worked out in the end, right?

Leah: I've heard the hotel room story before. People will be people. Some are good and some, well, not so much. So far, I had have no issues with them contesting anything. I've had legal copyright for a few years now. I'm very diligent about that, always have been. Once the song is either written or freshly recorded, I send everything to the US Copyright office. I can't believe I actually had to prove one of my own songs, but I was lucky that I've had my Virgo personality taking care of details like that to save me arse this time around. The singer has admitted that she knew nothing and that the producer who claimed to have written acted very strange right before the contest. She apologized to me for the mess and was actually quite gracious about the whole thing and I'm taking that as they are admitting guilt to stealing my song based on all of that. I've heard nothing since and I have some really great fans in Slovakia now watching out for any activity on their part.

Me: You worked with Marty Rifkin who also worked with Springsteen, Jewel, Tom Petty and the woman who introduced me to you... Carrie Wade. How did you first get to work with Marty? Did he have any good Springsteen stories he shared with you? Or Jewel stories?

Leah: Marty was referred to me by a singer-songwriter friend who worked with Marty. Marty is simply an amazing person as well as a phenomenal producer. I'm sure Marty has lots of stories about Springsteen, Jewel, Tom Petty and others, but he's the kind of guy that respects the privacy of others and therefore doesn't talk about them much. He's discreet and totally professional and you have to respect him for that, because you know that he will offer you the same respect and privacy in return.

Me: And is that how you met Carrie?

Leah: Yep!

Me: Singer/songwriter Jeff Cameron introduced me to Peter Kearns who introduced me to Carrie Wade. You gotta keep the six degrees going, Leah. Who can you recommend that I interview?

Leah: Hmmm... I'll get back to you. Many, many amazing talents I know for sure! I'll hook you up with someone good though!

Me: Leah, you are a Jill of all trades. I cannot believe you are also a ballet dancer, an actress and a visual artist. What do you like doing best out of all the things you do?

Leah: You know I think life is life a moving ocean. I love it all. I've had my phases. Sometimes you never know what the tide will bring in. I kind of move around a lot but have been mostly into music and photography the past few years more than acting, dancing and painting.

Me: Have you acted in movies and tv? And can you explain what a visual artist is? I never understood it.

Leah: I've had small roles with many wonderful talents including Tom Cruise, Annette Bening, Gary Shandling, Kate Hudson and more. No super big roles, but I made a living off acting for a few years while living in Los Angeles. As far what a visual artist is, well, it's quite simple really. There are dance artists that dance; music artists that make music; and visual artists usually paint, sculpt, do graphic design or creative photography. Anything that is creative in a visual way. I love taking pictures and messing with the colours, contrasts, et cetera, and I also have done quite a number of oils on canvas, metal sculptures, pottery and more. Just love art and expressing myself. It's a great outlet for me, my thoughts and emotions.

Me: Leah, thanks so much for taking part with this interview and being on the Phile. You are working on your next album right now, right? Does it have a title?

Leah: YES! so excited for the next album. It's going to be called "Parachute" which is the title track. It's an album about letting go and blossoming. I'm hoping to release it by summer 2011. We'll see. And thank you for having me on this interview Jason, it's been fun.

Me: Can you come back when your new album is out?

Leah: You betcha! I'd be honoured.

Me: Thanks so much again. Go ahead and plug your website, Leah. I wish you lots of luck, and tell Carrie I said hello.

Leah: I will tell Carrie hello AND thank her for referring me to you! My web site is www.LeahWest.com and I'm also easily searchable on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, and Reverbnation. Thank you Jason and wishing you continued success. Until we meet again xoxo.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Well, that about does it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Leah for a wonderful interview and to Carrie Wade for hooking it up. The Phile will be back next Phriday on Black Friday (or Black Phriday) with musician slash blacksmith Layne Hendrickson. A blacksmith for Black Friday. Until then, have a Happy Thanksgiving, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye love you bye.
- The Peverett Phile


"Celebrating Women"

Celebrating Women

http://www.eventpub.com/stories.php?id=293103

Celebrating women
By Glenna Turnbull
Friday, September 10, 2010

A concert celebrating the 25th anniversary celebration of the Kelowna Women‘s Resource Centre will be held Saturday at the Kelowna Community Theatre.
Called Lilith Fair Almost There, it stars the top finalists in the recent country wide competition to open for the Lilith Fair Festival.
Performers include Kim McMechan and Leah West of Kelowna, along with Aspen Switzer, Elaine Ryan and Genevieve Rainey.
West was recently in the news when someone in Europe decided to swipe one of her songs, translate it, and enter it in a song contest. When people are trying to steal your music, that says something about the quality. Given the huge number of fans she had out for her Parks Alive show last month, she has proven herself as someone deserving to be watched and heard.
Tickets for this event are $24, available at Mosaic Books and show time is 8 p.m - Event Magazine


"Food for the Ears"

Kamloops Daily News

Link:
http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20100812/KAMLOOPS0501/308129994/food-for-the-ears

Arts & Entertainment
Food for the ears
Chase Cornstock fancies itself as a local Woodstock
August 12,2010

By MIKE YOUDS
Daily News Staff Reporter

They won’t be expecting 500,000 youth, but organizers of the annual Chase Cornstock are promising — tongue in cheek — that the music will be better than it was at Woodstock back in ’69.

The annual festival is set for Aug. 21-22, when entertainers from across the region converge at Chase Memorial Beach for a weekend of celebrating music and the corn harvest.

With a mandate to promote emerging artists in the province, the Chase Festival Society has assembled a lineup sure to appeal to a range of musical taste. Last year’s festival featured Kelowna’s Andrew Allen, who has since received wider acclaim across Canada and the U.K.

“We like to brag that his appearance in Chase helped launch his successful career,” notes organizer Diana Endean

Performances begin at 3 p.m. daily in the Joyce Dunn Amphitheatre in Memorial Park overlooking Little Shuswap Lake.

Saturday’s lineup includes headliner Leah West, an indie rock/pop artist from Kelowna known for her high-energy pipes and diverse repertoire. Suzie and Bill Rawn, the daughter-father acoustic duo open the show at 3 p.m. followed by the Turtle Valley Band.

The Infectuals, the Kamloops-based rock/funk/soul band, headline Sunday’s entertainment. As well, Melissa Endean, originally from Kamloops, performs with pianist Leah Mertz in the duo Meliah, blending jazz, indie, country and hip-hop. Country artist Art Pruce returns to the festival for his second year.

Family activities at the park begin around noon with concessions, vendors, a farmers market and children’s activities. The local Lions club hosts a pancake breakfast Sunday, 8-11 a.m., at Chase Community Hall.

In addition to corn on the cob from Pete Murray’s Corn Farm, festival-goers can chow down on salmon, bannock, burgers and hot-dogs at the park. - Kamloops Daily News


"Rights of Spring in the Air"

Rights of Spring up in the Air

http://www.theprovince.com/entertainment/Rights+Spring/2742227/story.html

Rights of Spring up in the air

Kelowna singer preaches copyright, alleging song stolen

By Tom Harrison, The Province
March 30, 2010



Leah West is the victim but she might become the victor.

West claims she had her song, "Spring," stolen by two Slovakian composers, who rewrote the lyrics as "Rok a Pol," had it sung by Lucia Olesova and entered it in the annual Eurovision song contest. Eurovision is hopelessly tacky but it's seen on TV by millions of Europeans and winning the event has launched careers, most notably ABBA's. Nobody knew ABBA before "Waterloo."

Accusing anyone of stealing a song is tricky, but the Kelowna songwriter is convinced she is right and the feedback from YouTube, where "Spring" was posted, MySpace and countless emails, shows many Slovakians and Olesova back her up. Olesova has gone so far as to want to record "Spring" for her debut LP with the proper credits. West might yet benefit from this.

In the meantime, she is advising aspiring songwriters to copyright their material. Otherwise, unprotected songs on You-Tube or elsewhere are easily lifted.
- The Province


"Kelowna Singer Beyond Words"

http://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/stories_local.php?id=249544

Kelowna singer beyond words
Don Plant

A Kelowna songwriter claims two European producers have reached across the Atlantic and stolen her song.
Leah West penned a tune called Spring and released it on her CD, Beyond Words, last year. A source in Europe contacted her this week and directed her to a YouTube video that showed a famous Slovakian performer singing the melody of Spring with Slovakian lyrics.
“All these people dancing on stage to your song is like, is this a nightmare?” she said Thursday. “It had the same changes, from verses to chorus, the same guitar lick, the same intro and outro.”
The producers professed the song was theirs. They submitted it to a high-profile music contest called Eurovision, which helped launch ABBA‘s career in the 1970s. Although the song failed to get past the audition process, West said she‘s outraged by the apparent theft.
“This is a huge offence for me,” she said Thursday. “It probably goes on all the time, but to rip off artwork from halfway across the world without me knowing about it needs to be talked about.”
West, who grew up in New Jersey before moving to Kelowna, posted her complaint on Eurovision‘s Facebook site and wrote media outlets in Slovakia. With help from supporters there, the story hit the front page of at least one newspaper on Wednesday and received TV and radio coverage there, West said.
She tracked down the singer and one of the producers on Facebook, and gave them an earful. Some of her fans made comments on the YouTube site, which prompted the corporation to pull the video from circulation.
The singer, Lucia Olesova, contacted West and acknowledged the song was hers. Olesova claimed she was unaware of the similarities and asked West if she can record the song on her debut album.

“She‘s suing her producers. She‘s embarrassed,” West said. “She‘s all over the media. She‘s being slammed by radio and TV. They‘re attacking her as a singer.”
West had already copyrighted the song and performance rights. She has contacted lawyers in the U.S. and Canada and hopes she can make a deal so Olesova can record the song.
“I hope some good flowers come from these bad seeds,” she said. “I‘ve heard composers burn out and resort to things like this. I can‘t imagine their reputation will ever be the same.”
West is studying French in Montreal and plans to return to Kelowna in early April. She‘ll continue performing Spring and other songs at the Habitat and other Okanagan venues.
“I remember how it evolved in the studio,” she said. “It is a sacred part of you that only you can truly know. I know where that song came from.”
West has no record label to finance her and takes care of her own business dealings. She pays for her recordings, books her own gigs and has worked as a server and bookkeeper to make ends meet.
“Today‘s indie artists have to be smart and organized,” she said.

To compare the songs, visit:

www.cas.sk/clanok/155415/audio-kanadska-spevacka-olesova-mi-okopirovala-piesen.html. - Kelowna Daily Courier


"Artist Victim of Euro-Pirates"

Artist Victim of Euro-Pirates

By Chris Stanford

A Kelowna singer and songwriter who had one of her tunes pirated and entered into the huge Eurovision music contest overseas says she is getting over her outrage and looking to make something positive out of the experience.

“At first I felt violated and I was angry,” said Leah West from New Jersey, where she used to live and where she was visiting family last week. “The first 36 hours I didn’t sleep much . . . I was pretty upset.”

According to West, she penned the song, entitled simply enough, Spring, by herself in January and February of 2008, and she recorded it in spring of that year in Los Angeles with noted producer Marty Rifkin – who has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and others – at the controls. It was released in 2009 on her CD Beyond Words and the song and video have been up on Youtube for some time.

The pop tune, about falling in love and the advent of a new season, has a suitably upbeat feel and catchy melody and it caught he ears of some producers in Slovakia, who liked it so much they though they’d enter in the music contest. The only problem was, they neglected to credit West and in fact claimed they had written it themselves.

“On Monday, March 8, I received a notice (via email) from someone in Slovakia asking if this was in fact my song,” said West. “I was little bit confused at first because it was a Youtube video and it was obvious someone else had mixed it , but was clearly my song Spring,” she added. “Everything was the same, the guitars and everything.

“The person said they were confused when they went to my website (Leahwest.com) and they discovered that I was actually the author.”

The Eurovision contest, which has been running since the late ’50s, is arguably the highest-profile song competition around, and helped launch the careers of ABBA and Celine Dion and Katrina and the Waves, among others.

Needless to say, when West tracked down the video, which was the Slovakian singer’s entry into the preliminary phase of the competition, West was horrified – and initially outraged. As the owner of the copyright on the song, she alone can decide how it is used, let alone anyone recording it an passing it off as their work.

“I’d never even heard of Eurovison and I’d obviously never heard of this singer,” said West.

Apparently sung in the native Slovak language by Olesova, when comparing the two versions side-by-side, it’s glaringly obvious that it’s West’s handiwork. There is far too much about the two songs that is similar, if not exactly the same for it to be any sort of coincidence.

At first West was irate and in her first contact through Facebook with Olesova and the producers who claimed Spring as theirs, and she let them know of her displeasure. But now that a little time has passed, West admits she sees things differently.

“She’s young, she’s gorgeous and full of talent,” said West of Olesova. “And it’s obvious she’s going to be a big star.”

“Actually I discovered that the singer had nothing go do with the origin of this whole thing,” said West, who has since corresponded with Olesova a half-dozen times. “I will probably never know where they found my song Spring but when you put yourself on the web and you’re instantly worldwide.

“But this whole experience has definitely show me way more good than bad,” said West.

The whole situation turned into something of a sensation in Slovakia, making the front pages of the papers said West, but since it hit the media, she has received nothing but support.

“My fans have made me cry tears of joy over the past few days. They’re so devoted,” she said, noting that one fan overseas spent some eight hours going through video to find the footage of Olesova singing the song. According to West, Olesova’s version of the song was aired Jan. 22 on Slovakian television, and it showed little change from the original, other than the language differences. While it apparently didn’t make it past the preliminary stages of the contest, the attention generated by it’s inclusion may end up being a good thing.

West is currently returning to her temporary base of Montreal, where she will spend the next few weeks brushing up on her French, before returning to Kelowna in April and she is hoping that despite the controversy involving her song, she can turn the publicity to the positive and move her career forward, which given her upbeat personality will likely be the result.

And as it turns out, Olesova in fact liked West’s song so much that she asked if she could record Spring, legally this time, on an upcoming album and West says she be happy to let her do it – as long as he gets the credit she deserves this time around. - Kelowna.com


"Kelowna Woman Claims Stolen Song"

Kelowna Woman Claims Stolen Song

http://www.bclocalnews.com/okanagan_similkameen/kelownacapitalnews/news/87359267.html

Kelowna woman claims song stolen for European contest

By Jennifer Smith - Kelowna Capital News

It launched the careers of big name artists like ABBA and Céline Dion, yet when Leah West discovered her tune was en route to the world’s biggest song writing competition, she was anything but happy.

Released just last summer, West’s song “Spring” is featured in a YouTube recording of Slovak star Lucia Olesová’s Eurovison audition where her producers claim to have penned the song themselves.

West was not even aware the competition existed, let alone that someone was passing her work off as their own, until she saw a video clip sent to her anonymously.

“I was horrified,” she said. “…Even where I sing ‘spring, spring, spring’ she sings something like ‘spin, spin, spin’ in the same place.”

From her guitar licks to the song’s timing, the music is virtually a verbatim copy of the tune West released in July 2009, she says. The clip itself has since been removed from the Internet.

West made sure her version was copyrighted and registered with the performance rights organization Broadcast Music Inc. in the United States before she released her album last summer. She immediately contacted her lawyers.

The person who tipped West off, told her he or she must remain anonymous due to the stature of Olesová’s family, who are said to be both wealthy and influential in Slovakia.

West chose to respect the request, but took the whole sordid tale went straight to her blog as she tried to fight for her rights in a country where she does not speak the language or know anyone.

West’s fans were quick to respond to the post and soon new supporters started helping overseas.

One man sifted through eight hours of video footage and Internet clips to find when and where the song originally aired, while people in Slovakia started connected with West, helping to navigate that country’s media.

The story broke in Slovakian newspapers Tuesday, after West inundated reporters with complaints the Slovak starlet had ripped her off.

Olesová, who is already a star in her home country, is claiming innocence.

In a Facebook conversation with West, she told the Kelowna woman she was completely unaware of the gaff her producers committed.

“I cannot understand why they did this,” she said.

West is currently in Montreal brushing up on her French, but plans to return to Kelowna to secure a serving job and continue playing.

It took two years for her to raise the money to record the album Spring is featured on; now she’s hoping her lawyers can help her sort out the mess that’s become of her dream.

In the YouTube clip she watched that has since been removed from the web, the producers she claims lifted her song appear to describe how they came up with their inspiration to write—though the clip is not in a language West understands.

“You can tell they’re going over the creative process and it’s just such a bunch of bullshit. I just wanted to say: You are a bunch of liars and you stole from an innocent person,” said West. - BC News


"Front Cover Event Magazine!"

Artist lives a full life
By Chris Stanford
Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Not much fazes Leah West these days, and after losing a dear friend, she‘s meeting the challenges of life head on. Since moving to Kelowna in 2005, she has been working on her newest creative career as a singer/songwriter and with the upcoming release of Beyond Words, her first CD, she‘s ready to take on the music world as well. “One of the last things my friend said before she died of breast cancer last year was ‘Life is short, so go out and live it‘,” she said. “I used to be afraid sometimes, but not anymore.”

To celebrate the release of her independent debut effort, West will play the Bohemian Cafe on Bernard Avenue June 12, with Tom Stinson on guitar and Trevor Salloum on percussion. It‘s also the first night of the establishment’s new weekly live entertainment program through the summer.

A trained ballet dancer, actor, visual artist and sometimes model, West was born in New Jersey, and lived there until the age of 17. After a two-year stint at the University of Delaware, where she studied the emerging discipline of neuroscience, she moved to New York City and immersed herself in the acting world, studying for a year at the famed Lee Strasberg school of acting. With a move to Los Angeles, she soon found herself auditioning for acting roles in Hollywood films, and eventually earned parts in movies starring the likes of Tom Cruise, Annette Benning and Gary Shandling.

She stayed there for five years, in the process working on a three year-long documentary film project chronicling the lives of native tribe in Costa Rica and their medicine men. Spending two months a year there, West and a small crew lived with the tribe and ate the same food they ate.

With her acting career on pause for the moment, West is putting her energy into music full-time. She recalled that she was singing songs since before she can remember. “My mom says when I was a baby I was always singing. I started writing songs when I was five . . . of course they were horrible.” Early songwriting attempts aside, West has always pursued the creative side of life, and applied herself to improving at the craft of penning words and music. “There’s the muse and then there’s the discipline,” she said of the process. “The muse gets the initial idea – sometimes it’s the guitar sound, sometimes it’s the words, but I always carry a tape recorder in my bag.”

Beyond Words, going by the six-song advance sampler, is a carefully-crafted collection of pop songs showcasing West’s vocal abilities and her talents as a songwriter. Recorded and produced by California-based Marty Rifkin over the past year-and-a-half – he‘s worked with everybody from Bruce Springsteen to Jewel to Tom Petty – the 12 songs are a collaboration of two minds, according to West. While she writes all the lyrics and contributes musical ideas of her own, Rifkin is responsible for the finished arrangements and overall sound of the tunes.

With influences from performers like Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan and Peter Gabriel, the music runs the gamut from the light-hearted jangly pop of Orange Bliss, written about a beautiful California day, to the slower harmony-laden Punch Drunk Lullaby and the universal sentiment of the title track, Beyond Words. The songs reveal a polished and confident performer, capable of translating sensitive lyrics to music, all wrapped with lush production.

With her varied experiences, West has much to draw on for her songwriting and has already penned much of the material for a second CD. She will play a return engagement at the Bohemian Cafe in August. Tickets for both shows will be available at the door. She has also used her connections south of the border, and has lined up several shows in the United States, mostly playing to college crowds.
With the pending release of her first CD though, she is clearly setting her sights on carving out her niche in the music business. In typical fashion, she is straightforward about what has drawn her to pursue her dreams. “I have goals, but I don‘t want to say I have big expectations. I’m going to continue to write and do my own thing and if people want to be part of it, that‘s great. But I‘d rather do nothing than be mediocre.” - Event Publishing


"Leah West (Special Pick)"

Oct 20, 2008
Leah West (special pick)
Written by admin in Alternative, John Drake, Rock n Roll

“Oh, new female pop singer.” “Hey, it’s out of Canada.” “Quirky lyrics and guitars.” Tuned out yet? After hearing any of these to describe a musician or a body of work I will usually dismiss it as garbage. Move on and listen to music that I know I’ll enjoy.

Well, forget presuppositions. This girl can actually sing. And while I think the genre of female pop/acoustic-alternative is f*%$ dry at this point, Leah West opens it back up for me. Her music is optimistic without being obnoxious and she’s got a remarkable talent for making her voice sound fresh in every song, even though she’s got a blue million of them. She’s apparently making a lot of people very happy with her music and there’s plenty of it to listen to for free on her website.

http://www.leahwest.com

Leah West receives an extra 25 cool points for not having a myspace page as her only website.

Leah West loses 5 of those points for mentioning her myspace within the first ten sentences of her main page, but she makes up for it with a well designed site full of pictures and tracks and things that you’ll actually enjoy - not self-promotional horse shit that most artists think you want to know about them. For this I’ll award a modest 31 points (same as the number of free songs she provides), bringing her total to 51.

Congratulations, John Drake - SexSoulRocknRoll


"Smart Move for West"

Vernon Morning Star
Smart move for West

Leah West is not only making a name for herself in the Okanagan, the Kelowna-based artist is on tour out east with shows in New York City and Toronto.

By Dean Gordon-Smith - Vernon Morning Star

A confident and surprising sound is unveiled on the first album from singer/songwriter Leah West.

West, who calls Kelowna home, is originally from New Jersey, and her new album Beyond Words is a chilled-out work of semi-laid back indie-rock with elements of folk and pop sounds moving around the edges.

The soft-edged production of multi-instrumentalist Marty Rifkin (Bruce Springsteen, Jewel) adds a mellow shimmer to West’s understated voice.

A few of West’s songs are on the borderline of a country-pop vibe, but go beyond into more atmospheric areas.

Orange Bliss and Simple Love are easy-flowing ethereal pop songs with jazz-like vocal inflections. This textural approach contains effective strength in the ballad-driven material (Anything For You, Destiny’s Calling) where moody elements brought out in West’s vocals are matched by the simple arrangements.

Minor-key themes abound throughout Beyond Word, and are especially evident on the chilly Forbidden Fruit, where the mood is nearly skewered by tricky production.

The unadorned character of West’s voice has a beguiling quality that shines through the material that moves away from pop elements. The title track is strong evidence of this haunting sound at the fringes of the song: part Loreena McKennit and Natalie Merchant.

Middle of the road tracks like Caught in Your Web and Gravity sound ordinary by comparison and out of place here; a forced fit of standard songs and ideas.

Magic moments happen on I’m Not Invisible, where the honesty in West’s vocal and lyrics bring on an inspired performance. - Vernon Morning Star


"One2One with Leah West"

While most Canadian musicians end up moving to the United States, Leah West went the other way. This American Singer/Songwriter/ Actress moved to Canada to put herself in our “Vibrant Canadian Music Scene” Although on Leah’s myspace account it’s classified as Rock / Indie/ Pop, I’m really hesitant to place her in a categorized box. West is definitely a surprising listen with an acoustic sound that only adds to her music. She has a unique talent for writing songs with different kinds of melodies, and, each song seems to captivate her audience with seemingly personal experiences. Her seductive high energy vocals can lend credence to the "pop" sound of her music but her melodic vocals lead to a different venue. What a lovely contradiction which remains haunting the listener for days to follow.

Currently working with producer, Marty Rifkin (Bruce Springsteen, Jewel, Tom Petty, Elton John, Dwight Yoakam, Leanne Rimes, and Glen Campbell) Leah West is quickly rising to the top and One2One had the opportunity to interview this artist.

O2O: Do you find there's a limitation to being a female singer in Canada?
L.W.: No I don't think that it's a limitation being a woman at all. Women have a beautiful perspective of the world, totally different from men. We need to embrace both perspectives in order to acheive balance in our society. Also, I think if you are going to be a female artist, Canada is a great place to be. It's a very supportive environment here for all types of music, and all types of artists. I also try to see the opportunities in any given situation. I usually try to look at limitations as simply challenges from which to grow and to try to find the answers to.

O2O: Where do you find your inspiration?
L.W.: Everywhere, literally.
Nature, love, relationships, our spirituality, things of beauty, as well as times of tragedy.
A song is just another way to convey a message or tell a story.
There are lots of stories to tell in this world.



O2O: Which song that you've recorded is your favorite? Why?
L.W.: "Beyond Words" because I knew it wasn't going to be a radio single and I had free reign to make it true to my original spiritual idea without compromising the length or the authenticity. When I wrote it, I knew it was a magical song. And when my producer, Marty Rifkin and I started to lay down the first track of the acoustic guitar, I got chills.

O2O: Who are your influences?
L.W.:Wow, this would be a long, long list, so I'll try to refrain from going overboard.
Sarah McLachlan, Peter Gabriel, Sheryl Crow, Sting, Cat Stevens, Eva Cassidy, U2, Radiohead, Ella Fitzgerald, Simon & Garfunkle, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Loreena McKennitt, Jann Arden, Alanis Morissette, Ennio Morricone, Otis Redding, Damien Rice, Eddie Vedder, and Paula Cole. I grew up playing piano, so a lot of the great classical composers really shaped me, too. I've only recently started playing and writing on guitar, instead of piano. Some amazing new musical discoveries for me are Tom Stinson, Ryan Donn, and Kevin Parent.

O2O: How do you define success?
L.W.: When you find peace in your heart, in your soul, and in your life.

O2O: When did you know that you wanted to become a singer?
L.W.: There's a difference between wanting to sing and becoming a singer.
I've always been singing. According to my parents, when I was a baby I sang more than talked!
I always knew I loved the arts and I've explored a lot of different avenues creatively.
It was when I started to have this giant pile of songs I wrote and realized that I needed to get them out of me. Once I started recording, it was an old question that I finally felt like there was an answer to. I realized how much I needed, not wanted, to sing. It was a necessary step that I just knew I needed to make. I think it's when you can't live without something, it just becomes a part of you. Living without music, for me, is failing to live my life as I was destined to. That's when I became a singer.

O2O: Celine Dion doesn't talk for the day when she is performing...
do you have any rituals before a show?
L.W.: No, I actually talk the day of a show! I used to be a total perfectionist and to a large degree, I still am. But with time and experience, I've learned that there is always a "better", always a "to-do list" and we will die someday with things still left undone. I'm hear to enjoy life, help others and learn. If I get too crazy with perfection, I miss the point. I've learned that most people want something real and passionate, not something sterile and perfect. In general, I try to rest before a show, but sometimes you have to perform on no sleep and let adrenaline and the energy from the crowd carry you. I try to stay hydrated throughout the day and during a performance. I can usually sing for a good 3-4 hours, but after that, I have to really work hard to maintain pitch and energy. I guess I'm pretty laid-back about my regime. Sometimes I drink hot tea and honey, other times I have a glass of wine.

O2O: What do you do for fun?
L.W.: Walk with my dog, hang with friends and family, I like boating, skiing, kayaking, biking. I love being in nature and traveling. I also paint with oils and I love to dance!


O2O: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
L.W.: I want to put out a few albums. I've written over 150 songs, so I have a lot of albums to record! I would think that I've done a few more tours, and have made a bit of a name for myself in music. I want to earn the respect of my peers. I'd also like to start a family in a few years. No matter what, I hope to always make music for the rest of my life.

O2O: What are the projects that you are working on right now?
L.W.: My next album due out sometime summer 2010.
Planning another tour for 2010 as well.
I learned a lot from my first tour in autumn 2009.
I hope to keep learning, expanding my horizons,
meeting new and interesting people and making music.
- One2One ProMedia


"A RENAISSANCE WOMAN: Interview with Leah West"

When Leah West answers the phone, I already know that she is going to be one of the most charming singers that I have interviewed. Born in New Jersey but transported to Kelowna, BC, Canada in 2005, the singer-songwriter has a pleasing voice that is synonymous with her sensational imagery from her new CD Beyond Words.

West is also a trained ballet dancer, actor, visual artist and model, but at the moment she is concentrating mostly on her music. “Life unfolds in different ways. I haven’t done any modeling for a while. Acting is something on the backburner for now, as all my energy is on my music and touring.” West has appeared in a number of smaller roles in movies. “Music is much closer to my hear, where I can express what is going on in my heart. It’s expressing the emotional creativity that I have inside.” That doesn’t mean that West cannot combine the two disciplines, as she also writes songs that appear on soundtracks for television and movies.

Right now, she is diligently working on the completion of a three year long documentary film about the medicine men in the native tribes of Costa Rica, where West spent six months (over 3 years) in a native village. “I have had some of the best experiences of my life when it was actually really bad. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like things to get bad, but I actually got really sick. There’s lots of bugs and parasites in the jungle and not being used to a jungle atmosphere, or not being isolated from the bacteria. The documentary was not just about the tribe, but also some of the medicinal properties of the jungle. One of the tribesmen has his own little medicinal garden. He realized that some of tribes people were leaving the village and not discovering the medicine of the tribe. I learned about all this when I got really sick, but the people of the village were so good to me. These people really have nothing, but they are just so generous and pure. In their eyes there is that innocence of a child that you just don’t get in our culture."

To spread her music, West has a MySpace page, as well as a Facebook page and a personal website (www.leahwest.com). “MySpace is an interesting phenomenon, and Facebook as well. MySpace is a place for musicians because there is some sort of interaction. People can leave comments, write emails and there is more of an interaction going on as human beings. We are social beings, and the future is already here. MySpace is going to continue to evolve even though some say it’s second best to Facebook. I don’t know how many millions of people are on Facebook, but you don’t have to worry about them disappearing soon.”

On September 16th, West is going to be doing a live show at Simon Fraser University, which is not the most common site for a show. “I’m actually doing two shows and one is during the day. It’s the last show of the Summer Concert series being held at SFU, it’s an outdoor event and is free, from 11-2. I’m also doing another show on the 16th at Café Deux Soleils.”

There is plenty to look forward to from Leah, as she is appearing on Urban Rush on September 15th, then will depart on a seven week tour after the Summer Concert series.

Being a visual artist, West has included her work in the album artwork: her piece “Solace” is on the back cover. “They are both outlets for my creativity, they are both a part of me. They just express themselves in different ways. I am a visual person and a musical person. It’s like sometimes you want to cook and sometimes you want to eat out. Sometimes we are joyous, sometimes we are angry.”

“The tie into the whole visual aspect to me in Beyond Words is that I can lay all this poetry and these lyrics out and we can chat while there is so much behind what we are saying. It’s like one of those experiences where you could be talking about someone and they just call you, even after two, three years.”

“Pets know when we are sad and they are pretty amazing that way. They don’t have the layers of garbage that we do. They are more intuitive than we are. It’s about having this energy with someone and not having to speak it; that can be expressed through song or a painting. It’s also about how different people see it.”

On her personal website, West maintains a blog with a wide range of topics. “My blog is kind of all over the place, but then again so am I, so it’s just me being me. For a long time, especially when I was living in Hollywood, I was trying to be something else. I’m not saying that’s the way it has to be, I just feel more comfortable in my own skin. Sometimes [the topic] is just info or something random that happens to me.”

“I just want to share my thoughts with people. Some people are engineers that are able to make beautiful buildings. One of the things I can contribute to the big giant pie is the ability to express feelings that some people might not be able to express themselves or don’t know how to, opening them up to a new world.”
- Press +1


"What the Fans are Saying"

Fans Rave:

“I love her music, lyrics, and cool soothing, hypnotic, voice. Very vibey, very unique, very now.”

“An absolutely formidable talent”

“An angelic voice with songs like nectar!!! Gorgeous!”

“Listening to the songs is like opening your windows the first day of spring to let fresh air in the house.
It's brilliant, simple and very touching...”

“Her voice just reaches in, squeezes my heart and tears”

“Just heard your lovely voice on CBC's North by Northwest - I had to pause in what I was doing to just listen. I hear a lot of music on NxNW and elsewhere, but yours is the first to move me to buy a CD on line. Reminiscent (to me) of Natalie Merchant and Joni Mitchell with, of course, your own haunting voice and poetic lyrics. I look forward to seeing you perform sometime”

“I have to admit, I was skeptical, but her songs swept me off my feet”

“Just beautiful… love, love, love her voice!”

“A great singer-songwriter!!!”

“Beautiful tunes and powerful voice”
- *


"Serendipitous Discovery of Leah West's Music"

I am not active on MySpace, checking into my MySpace profile just once in a few months, probably. It’s not my main point of contact, but rather a venue to share the one song I have written and recorded thus far… which will change this summer. I usually check in just to see if anything happened I should know about, that’s about it.

Tonight, I saw a Friend Request from one Leah West (MySpace), a musician (and model, actress, painter, photographer, etc.) formerly of New Jersey and now of Kelowna, BC. I had never heard of her but am long past that sort of thing to be surprised by it. I know it’s about social networking, not necessarily people who know each other. On the same principle, if people send a Friend Request of me, I won’t turn them down unless they seem really scary… more in a social sense than physical sense. I just accept, be flattered at face value they sent me a Friend Request, a little more if they typed something like Leah did, and have a listen to their music. I often enjoy it, but that might be that. However, every once in a while, I find something that’s delightful and tonight, it was Leah West’s music!

First thing to notice was her beautiful voice. The music moves and is moving. There is breadth to it, from simple and fun songs to deep and personal songs loaded with intelligent, thoughtful, meaningful lyrics. All of them are tied together by a genuine sense of honesty that it all came from within Leah, that this is the person she is. Someone who has decided to give us the privilege to look into her soul, just the way it is, through the sounds of her music.

There are six great songs on Leah West’s MySpace profile, but her ReverbNation profile has 54 songs. I’m half way through the list now and have not found a bad track yet. So many good songs I’m starting to believe there isn’t a bad one! They are all of the pop / alternative / indie styles she classifies herself as, though, so if you have a quota on that for how much you can listen to at one time, 54 might be a bit much. Mind you, 54 of anything, even the Beatles, can be a bit much for most. Still, I believe there is a lot more to this young lady than p/a/i. With a voice and, more importantly, a spirit like hers, I think she can do and succeed in a lot of other genres. She just has to determine which of them are within her, when the time is right for her. But absolutely, I very much highly recommend you have a listen to her music at the link above.

Both profiles contain a lot of other interesting information about Leah, including artists she’s worked with, appearances and so on, but Leah’s website has even more, including her photos from modeling, acting, her blog and so on! Rocking! She’s also on YouTube as the video above shows, though it only had 280 views at time of this posting. Contrast that to the well over 1 million views her MySpace profile has had since June 24 2008 (i.e. just 10 months from this posting!).

Anyway, social networking is quite a lot like the lottery. A lot of times, there isn’t much to be gained, if not something lost like time. You have to have that mentality to play it and survive. However, every once in a while, you feel like you won something. Discovering Leah West’s music tonight has definitely been worth my while. As for her, I see she’s got close to 12,000 “friends” on MySpace, but she won over one geniune fan tonight in me!
Clay Shirky (photo from TED.com)

Clay Shirky (photo from TED.com)

Btw, did you know the mean number of Friends a user on MySpace has is 55? That’s just if you averaged out the number of friends every user had, though this should probably be 54 since everybody has Tom, the default friend on MySpace. Compare that to Facebook users who have an average of 125.

However, and this is a BIG however, the median number of MySpace friends a user has is just 2! That is, if you ordered each user in a list from most friends at one end and least friends at the other, and you walked halfway down that line, the person there would have 2 MySpace friends! (Source: Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody)

Wow! Talk about saying something about the nature and interactions of its users given people like Leah has almost 12,000!

What social networking if half the users literally have 2 or fewer friends, with 1 by default to start???

This fact is true despite MySpace still being ranked #9 on Alexa.com’s web traffic rankings at time of posting! Lots of traffic but not of the true interactive kind, obviously. At least not anywhere near where it could be. ReverbNation sits at 7,347 at time of posting, if you’re curious.




For Full Review, please go to:

http://digitalcitizen.ca/2009/04/23/serendipitous-discovery-of-leah-wests-music/
- Digital Citizen


Discography

"Speechless" to be released 2012
"Beyond Words" released July 2009
She's penned over 150 songs date for soundtracks, other artists, and herself.
Music for Coffee Beings: Volume 4
Midfinger Records: Busta Compilation CD
Phoenix One Entertainment CD Sampler
ExposeYourMuse 2009 Compilation CD
On radio stations and internet worldwide

Also working on a French album to be released in 2014

Photos

Bio

Leah West is Canada's newest Indie-Pop Sensation. Leah West is the winner of the 2011 BCIMA "People's Choice Award" and she was also nominated for 3 other awards, including "Songwriter of the Year" "Single of the Year" and "Pop/Contemporary Recording of the Year". Leah's songs are currently playing on both major and indie radio, as well as over 100,000 commercial buildings. She is consistently one of the most popular artists on Reverbnation, MyBand on Facebook, and has over 1 million plays on MySpace, and has accumulated almost 60,000 friends and fans through her various social networks! She is currently writing for multiple soundtracks, as well as preparing to release her sophomore album "Speechless" due out fall 2012. An incredibly prolific lyricist and songwriter, she has penned over 150 songs to date with songs in many genres. She is currently working with the very talented producer, Marty Rifkin, who has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Jewel, Tom Petty, Elton John, Leann Rimes, Shawn Mullins, Dwight Yoakam, and Glen Campbell to name just a few. Leah is honoured to be working with such an exceptional talent. Leah has accomplished all this so far as an independent artist, without any support of a manager, agency, record label or grant-funding.

Leah West is a Canadian-American Singer-Songwriter who grew up in New Jersey, near New York City. "It is a huge melting pot of culture and it was a great place to grow up and be surrounded by fabulous music and entertainment from all over the world." Leah moved to Kelowna, BC, Canada in 2005 to immerse herself in the vibrant Canadian music scene. She travels extensively, but calls Kelowna, BC, Canada home. In addition to singing and songwriting, Leah is also a trained dancer (Garden State Ballet), actress (Lee Strasberg NYC), and visual artist who speaks English, Spanish and French. She is able work legally in the US, Canada, and Europe and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), and NACA.org

After releasing her debut album "Beyond Words" in July 2009 to much public praise, she went on tour from coast to coast across the US and Canada with fellow musician Tom Stinson. She played venues from Vancouver to New York City and had performances on numerous television shows and radio stations, as well as being featured in many newspapers and magazines. Leah also received an explosion of publicity across Europe and North America when the producers of a very high profile starlet in Slovakia named Lucia Olešová entered Leah's song "Spring" illegally on the popular European contest Eurovision, which is watched by tens of millions. The starlet's producers renamed the song "Rok a Pol" and were passing off Leah's song as their own work. Eurovision has launched the careers of Celine Dion and ABBA. Thankfully Leah had all her legal documents in place to prove that she is the rightful author of the song. You can search Leah's YouTube profile to compare the songs and you'll see from beginning to end they are virtually identical. The story continues as Leah and Lucia work towards potentially redoing the song in another version, this time giving Leah the proper writing credits she deserves. While this scandal is a travesty on many levels, and should bring awareness to issues around theft in the music industry, it is certainly a testament to the quality of Leah's songwriting for 2 high-profile producers to risk their careers just to steal her work for a contest.

She's been winning over audiences with her clever lyrics, ingenious melodies, and her amazing voice. One minute you'll be moved to tears with her soft, ethereal ballads and the next be blown away and rockin' to her upbeat tunes. Leah's songs can be light and quirky, or deep, thought-provoking and soulful. Her voice is powerful, captivating and soaring with a hint of grit. Infectious hooks that will haunt you. People often tell her she left them with goosebumps.