Photo courtesy of a screenshot from The Joey+Rory Show on Youtube
The Larry Joe Taylor Texas Music Festival has always been home to a multitude of musical artist and groups of a wide range of skill and creativity, allowing them to perform their best songs. As the day of the festival draws closer, recognized songwriter Richard Leigh takes the call to perform live for those near and far attending the festival.
Leigh is an accomplished composer and song writer who has written songs since he was 10 years old and has written professionally starting at the age of 23. With over 57 years of experience, 44 of those years as a professional, Leigh has written for a number of 70s, 80s and 90s Country Music artist such as Crystal Gayle, Reba McEntire, Don Williams and Ray Charles. Some recognized songs he has written and co-written includes “Somewhere in My Broken Heart” with Billy Dean, “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” with Layne Martine Jr. and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” recorded by Crystal Gayle. This work has resulted in many of his songs to received Grammy nominations as well as allowing him to receive recognitions and awards such as the Songwriter Legacy Award from SESAC.
Leigh has written songs for himself and for other artists, “I began singing in front of an audience the same year I wrote my first song at age 10,” Leigh said.
It was not until near the end of the 90’s that Leigh began to write and sing songs professionally.
“My career as a singer began when my writing career seemed to need a supplemental hand, so to speak,” Leigh said. “The illegal downloading of the late ‘90s and the first decade of 2000 caused a 70 percent drop in my royalties virtually overnight. I had to find something else to do for income, and singing my own music was all I knew how to do somewhat well. So I monetized me!”
Fortunately for Leigh, he was able to easily transition into his new career path.
“Transitioning into a professional entertainer from a professional songwriter was a very natural one,” said Leigh. “Instead of looking for someone to record my song, I merely did it myself. I had become my primary user of my product.”
Despite the easy transition, Leigh still found resistance in his new career.
“The hardest thing about branching out was trading my relaxed, sedentary lifestyle in for a very busy, mobile one,” Leigh said. “I went from being home 100 percent of the time to being away from home about 50 percent of the time. This required changing where I lived, what I drove, having to buy different equipment to make it happen, etc.”
At the end of the day, Leigh still finds himself passionately singing what he has passionately written. Leigh’s recent album, “Wandering One”, includes the song, “My Wandering One”, a favorite as Leigh put it, “is based on the Parable of the Lost Sheep from the Bible.”
With many songs written with passion, Leigh gives his appreciation to God.
“I would guess that the Lord is behind all these creative urges we mortals have,” Leigh said. “I would be no different.”
As he goes forward in his musical career, “my music seems to be circling back to the way I wrote when I was a kid, with more detail, and much more personal in nature,” Leigh said.
Leigh welcomes all who enjoy his songs.
“For anyone that doesn’t know my name I’d like those folks to know that I have over 50 years of songs under my belt and I that enjoyed writing just about every one,” Leigh responded when asked what he’d like people to know about him.
As he continues on his path, Leigh continues to follow his personal code of, “(facing) my life and my work as honestly as possible. I’m the author of all my choices, good and bad. Who I am and what I do are joined at the hip. Your life, your song: If you write it, sooner or later you have to sing it.”
While he awaits the day he will be able to perform at the White House, Leigh makes preparations to perform at LJT, as he is, “always excited to play for Texans. They just seem to love live music,” Leigh said.