Leslie Ellis
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Leslie Ellis

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"An Interview with Leslie Ellis by Melanie Hulick"

A fabulous singer-songwriter and actor, Leslie Ellis is someone that you have seen or heard and might not even know it. It’s likely you have heard someone else sing a song she wrote.

Ellis started out as an actor and singer performing in such Broadway hits as “Cats,” “La Cage Aux Folles” and “City of Angels.” She starred in the award-winning independent film “My Name Is Wallace,” which was invited to the Cannes Film Festival, and she appeared in the 2009 film “The New, True Charlie Wu,” in which she plays Eudiamonia. She sang the original soundtrack song “Six Times Around the Sun” for the CBS mini-series, “Perfect Murder, Perfect Town” and has done countless television and radio jingles. Her songwriting abilities have shown in songs recorded by the Bellamy Brothers and in the 1994 Broadway bound musical “Cowboy Café,” for which she wrote four original songs. You can also add Grammy Award Winner to her titles for singing on Celine Dion’s iconic hit song, “My Heart Will Go On,” from the movie “Titanic.”

I had the pleasure of talking with Ellis recently about where she’s been and where she wants to go. We talked about her live shows, which she performs across the U.S. and Europe, her music idols, her role models and an amazing song she wrote and sings, “Flyer Song,” was adopted by the U.S. Navy, as you will read in the following
conversation. Through this song, Ellis has touched the lives of so many people and created a bonding and often times healing effect for the families of the service men and women who fly to defend our nation. “Somebody said to me once, ‘It’s not the things that happen to you in your life that define you, it’s how you deal with them,’” Ellis said. “These service men and women and their
families show us that every day, as well as anyone who has faced such great adversity.”

As well as being part of a tribute to Joni Mitchell, a highlight of her career was having the opportunity to sing with Celine Dion. As we talked about the incredible opportunities she has had in her life, Ellis reflected, “I think dreams do come true. I think you can create your own sort of ‘luck energy’ by believing and not giving up,” she said. “You got to keep

Visit www.LeslieEllis.com to find out more about Ellis, see the video of “Flyer Song,” read the “Flyer Song” blog she created and get details on a “Flyer Song” contest.


HULICK: First of all, let me say I love your signature with the star at the end.

ELLIS: (laughs) You know what? Quite frankly I stole that from a friend of mine way back in college. I know she doesn’t do it anymore because I got a Christmas card from her.

HULICK: I’ve read some of the reviews of your music as well as your voice. Your voice has been described as natural, vibrant, haunting. Do you agree with that assessment?

ELLIS: Yes, I think some of the things that are unique that I have to offer are dynamics, emotion and energy. I feel like in my live shows my voice lends itself to big, exciting, kind of “gutsy” up-tempos that are fun, and then the really intimate, emotional sort of vulnerable songs. So I think my voice reflects that.

HULICK: Music today seems to be a lot about the stage show, the big production. For me, there are those times when I like to be drawn into the story of the song without all the glitz and glamor. It’s important to have
those singers who can do that, and from what I have read you are terrific at doing that.

ELLIS: Thank you. I give a lot on stage. I feel like I
emotionally connect with my songs in different ways. It’s funny, that reminds me of a singing teacher I had in college who used to say, “Hon! Hon! Don’t cry! You can’t sing when you’re crying!”

HULICK: (laughs) Funny!

ELLIS: (laughs) But there’s this real fine line there.
You want to be able to say, “I’m going to open up to
you in this incredibly vulnerable way and I’m going to
show what I think the emotion of this song is,” but you don’t want to go too far because she was right: you really can’t sing when you are crying.

HULICK: Going along with that theme of emotion, there is a very important song of yours called “Flyer Song.” There’s quite a story behind it. Can you tell our readers about that?

ELLIS: Sure. It is a song from the standpoint of a woman who hates the fact that her husband flies in the service, because she’s afraid something will happen to him. I wrote the song from a dream I had, which never
happened to me before or since. It’s really a song about
unconditional love. If you love somebody, you don’t ask them to change who they fundamentally are. In the song it says, “i won't ask my baby not to fly,” even knowing how it could turn out someday. In 2007, this really long process started where the men and women on the USS John C. Stennis, which is one of the aircraft carriers which was actually deployed at the time, adopted the song like
a tribute to their families, the heroes at home whom they
are so grateful for, the ones who fight at home, who are waiting and hoping and keeping stuff going here. What these men and women do, the flyers on the Stennis, is unbelievable! The engineering, the aerodynamics, the courage, it’s bravery on every level. So they adopted the song and they made a video to it. Then what I did was re-record the song once I saw the video footage. It was so
magnificent! I wanted the song to stand up to the video and make it like a movie soundtrack. Then we shot some
additional footage to put me in it. So we did this two-fold
production thing across thousands of miles. I posted
this video on my Web site and it got tens of thousands of
responses from people who’ve lost people, people who haven’t lost people, all telling me their stories. And these
“flyers” are not only doing this because it’s what they
love to do, but they are doing it on our behalf.

HULICK: That’s a wonderful story, Leslie. I read that you would like to someday start a foundation for the families of these fallen heroes.

ELLIS: Yes, I’d like to get my fan base increased to the point where I can create this foundation. In the news you hear about these soldiers fighting over there, but you never hear about what happens
weeks after they’re gone and people are trying to rebuild their lives. So that’s where my heart is with this song.

HULICK: Well it’s a very, very powerful song and you have a great base to build that foundation on. People can go to your Web site to see the video and find out more.

ELLIS: Yes, absolutely. It’s www.LeslieEllis.com.

HULICK: Who are your idols musically?

ELLIS: We can go back to Linda Ronstadt, a jazz singer named Lani Hall, Roberta Flack, Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin. More recently I would have to say Shawn Colvin and Indigo Girls. Celine Dion has always been a real inspiration to me. I’ve always listened to
how she phrases things. I have kind of a mixed bag of music idols. Nowadays I am admiring a lot of the writers I get to write with here in Nashville.

HULICK: You mentioned Celine Dion. You actually won a Grammy award for singing on Celine’s iconic song, “My Heart Will Go On,” from Titanic.

ELLIS: Yes! In fact I’m sitting in my office and I’m actually looking at my Grammy right now.

HULICK: How cool is that?

ELLIS: It’s very cool. It never gets un-cool! I was really
grateful for the experience I had singing with one of the people who has been an inspiration to me.

HULICK: Who were your role models growing up?

ELLIS: I would have to say my parents continue to be and have always been role models in my life.

HULICK: You have said that you have had some tough times while pursuing your career. When things get really tough, what is it that makes you pick yourself up and keep plugging away?

ELLIS: Well I think getting a reality check watching people deal with stuff way harder than I am dealing with. I think that gives me perspective. Another thing is laughter. I’m a big laugher. I have a huge laugh and I love to laugh. If you can look at your situation and find
the irony in it, that helps. And sometimes you gotta just
go through it and come out the other side.

HULICK: Yes, cry it out and get back up tomorrow.

ELLIS: Exactly! Sometimes crying it out is great because
it releases endorphins in your brain and makes you feel better. Except you can’t sing when you’re crying,remember? (laughs)

HULICK: (laughs) Oh, that’s right! This has been a lot
of fun talking to you.

ELLIS: Yes, it’s been great!

HULICK: Before you go, describe for me your perfect

ELLIS: Wow! It would be like a week long! (laughs). I think a perfect day for me is a day where no matter what I’m doing I feel like I am in the moment of it. Whether it’s writing or gardening or cooking, or being
with friends or visiting my family. A perfect day for me
is a day spent—the entire day—without worrying about the future or agonizing over the past, just being in the moment. - Orchard Park Press

"Various Quotes"

Live Reviews:

“[Ellis’] singing, always vibrant, is haunting”
- William A. Henry III, Time Magazine

“Leslie Ellis is the real deal. Her CD should be in your CD player, not in the case! She is not only one of the best singer/songwriters out there but her live shows will take your breath away. When they
patterned Country Music, she was part of that pattern!”
- Mickey Bunn, Program Director-Morning Host WNKX Country KiX 96 FM, Centerville, TN

“...Leslie Ellis fills the room and stops listeners’ hearts for a moment”
- The Hartford Courant

“Leslie Ellis blows me away. Her live performances are mesmerizing. Listening to Leslie Ellis' music, you find yourself asking, ‘how did she get this good?’ This woman has serious talent!”
- Jana Stanfield, Singer/Songwriter


“'Standing at the Moment' is a diverse collection of ten songs highlighting the fine vocal talents of Leslie Ellis, whose voice is so natural that you’ll swear you’ve heart it before.” - David Shultz, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange (FAME)

“This is a remarkable CD. Many songs stay with me long after I've aired them.”
- Steve Jerrett, of KOPN in Columbia, MO

“An album as engaging and evocative as Leslie Ellis & Lost Borders' debut full-length, 'Standing at the Moment', makes you put down whatever you're doing and settle in to listen. It invites you not merely into a fictional realm bounded by the songwriter's artifice, but into a new perspective on the world around you.”
- Rob Pratt, The Santa Cruz Good Times - Various

"New Video Tribute is Group Effort Between US Navy and Grammy® Winning Nashville Indie Artist"


NASHVILLE, TN (January 29, 2010) - How does one offer sincere thanks to the sacrifices borne by military personnel and their families? In Nashville, Tennessee, it’s done with a song and music video. The newly released “Flyer Song” is a combined effort between sailors on a US Navy Carrier, and Nashville singer/songwriter and Grammy Award winner Leslie Ellis. The music video is a tribute to both pilots and families of service personnel stationed around the globe.

Captain Scott Berg on the USS John C. Stennis heard Ellis’ recording and decided to use it as the soundtrack for a video tribute to the families of his pilots. “I thought Leslie’s song would be perfect,” Berg said.

The work took two years to produce. A media team aboard the USS Stennis created the video, with additional footage shot in Nashville to round out the story and recording of the song produced specifically for the video by Ron Oates.

“The song is told from the standpoint of a woman who hates that her husband flies jets because she's afraid that something will happen to him,” said Ellis, “but even so she sings, ‘I won’t ask my baby not to fly.’” Ellis said that her song seeks to acknowledge heroes “in the air and here at home.”

Ellis recently posted the video on YouTube, prompting tens of thousands of hits and touching comments by viewers. “The reaction was so overwhelming, I created the Flyer Song Blog,” said Ellis. The site is dedicated to sharing personal anecdotes and encouraging dialogue among viewers.

The video and blog is available for access on Ellis’ website at http://leslieellis.com/FlyerSongVideo.html

Leslie Ellis
Working Jane Productions

Grammy® Award winning vocalist Leslie Ellis performs live across the USA and Europe with hit songwriter Casey Kelly. Through her career Leslie has sung with many artists including Celine Dion on “My Heart will Go On” – from the movie Titanic (for which
Leslie won the Grammy) and Thomas Dolby on his latest album, Forty (featured singer on “Hyperactive.”) She sang the original soundtrack song, “Six Times around the Sun” for the CBS mini-series, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town and has done countless
TV/radio jingles and song demos for SONY Music.

In 2007 her self-penned “Flyer Song” was adopted by the US Navy and made into a video tribute. Since then Leslie has re-recorded the song with production by Ron Oates, and shot additional video footage which has culminated in a magnificent final presentation of the song and the video. She has also written songs that were recorded by The Bellamy Brothers, NYC based recording artist David Ippolito, and in 1994, four of Leslie’s original songs appeared in the Broadway-bound musical Cowboy Café, and were performed live at the show’s premiere in North Carolina.

As an actress, Leslie has appeared on television and the Broadway stage - Cats,
La Cage Aux Folles and City of Angles, among others - and in 2007 starred in an award winning independent film, My Name Is Wallace, which was invited to the Cannes Film Festival. Leslie was also featured in The New, True Charlie Wu, another award winning independent film released late in 2009.


Working Jane Productions was started in 1996 to produce Leslie Ellis http://www.LeslieEllis.com and her then Santa Cruz, California band, "Lost Borders". They released a CD called "Standing at the Moment". Since then, Leslie has moved to Nashville where Working Jane released two more CDs, "Leslie Ellis" and the new definitive EP "Making the Best" and the co-produced the "Flyer Song Video" with the US Navy. In 2004 Working Jane added Hit Songwriter and veteran performer Casey Kelly to their roster to develop and write material. http://CaseyKelly.net. - FLYER SONG PRESS RELEASE


1996 - "Standing at the Moment" with Lost Borders
2005 - "Leslie Ellis"
2009 - "Making the Best" (EP)



Grammy® Award winning vocalist Leslie Ellis performs live across the USA and Europe with hit songwriter Casey Kelly and sometimes including hit songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Todd Cerney. Through her career Leslie has sung with many artists including Celine Dion on “My Heart will Go On” – from the movie “Titanic” (for which Leslie won the Grammy) and Thomas Dolby on his latest album “Forty” (featured on “Hyperactive”). She sang the original soundtrack song, “Six Times Around the Sun” for the CBS mini-series, "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" and she’s done countless TV/radio jingles and song demos for SONY Music. But that's just where she started.

Over the years of writing and performing, Leslie has developed a unique blend of Country, Pop and Rock. Leslie's self-described "BohoCountry" style, with her dynamic, energetic and emotional vocals and multi-layered backgrounds, reflects the styles of Linda Ronstadt, CSN, Maritina McBride and Celine Dion in one sound.

Her live performances are as dynamic as her voice. She incorporates the various elements of California Country, Country-Pop and Folk-Rock to create a show that goes from energetic uptempos to quiet and emotional ballads with a few story songs in between. The sound is big, small and medium and is enhanced heavily by the multi-layered background vocals, particularly in the Trio formation. The live show is comprised of original music written By Kelly, Ellis and other writers she's known through the years.

As a writer, Ellis has had several cuts including ones by The Bellamy Brothers and NYC based recording artist David Ippolito. In 2007 her self penned “Flyer Song” was adopted by the US Navy and made into a video tribute to the troops and their families. Early in 2009 she rerecorded the song with production by renowned Nashville Arranger, Ron Oates and shot additional video and this has culminated in an even more magnificent presentation of the song and the video. In addtion, four of Leslie's original songs appeared in the musical "Cowboy Cafe" and were performed live at the show's premiere in North Carolina.

As an actress, Leslie has appeared on television and the Broadway stage - CATS, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES and CITY OF ANGELS, among others - and in 2007 starred in an independent film called, “My Name Is Wallace” which was invited to the Cannes Film Festival. Released late in 2009 was "The New, True Charlie Wu" in which she appears as Eudiamonia.