Sonia Leigh is a Southern troubadour whose battle scars, heartbreak, and resolute spirit are felt in every inflection of her weathered drawl. Leigh has earned every bit of soulful, lived-in authenticity her songs and performances portray. At the same time, an amazing chain of events-and a long list of friends and supporters-has put her on the cusp of even bigger success.
"I'm nothing without all the people who have been there for me," Leigh notes. “I've got keys to just about everybody’s apartment in Atlanta because I've slept on everybody's couch. But I've kept at it, because I really do truly feel that this was the calling on my life. I always knew this was what I wanted to do."
1978 December, Leigh’s full-length debut out September 27th on Southern Ground Artists, sees the songstress blending her many influences into a gritty, compelling sound that's all her own. From the boozy barroom sing-along of “Bar”—a throwback redolent of the less well-behaved Nashville of yesteryear—to the soulful Muscle Shoals shuffle of “I Just Might,” and from the acoustic groove of “Virginia” (featuring Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls) to the keenly observed country-rockin’ “My Name Is Money,” categorization is futile. Is it country, blues, soul or rock? The answer is yes. Is it southern? Add an exclamation point to the prior answer.
Leigh has been a part of Brown's musical family for seven years now, having met the singer/songwriter in Atlanta musical circles. Brown’s right-hand man John Hopkins served as producer for Leigh's independent outing Run or Surrender. Like everything else she’s done 1978 December is the sound of Leigh expressing her soul. It's not calculated, focus-grouped or target-marketed. In fact, Leigh wouldn’t have the slightest clue how to do that. “It's hard for me to just sit down and write and try to write a hit,” she says. “That's just not me as a writer. I write about what's happening and what I see.”
For her, it all comes together on “Ain’t Dead Yet,” 1978 December’s lead track, which delves into the influence her musical peer, blues artist Sean Costello, had and continues to have on her, even after his unexpected passing. The entire Atlanta musical community mourned the loss of such a promising young artist, but few more than Leigh, who still visits his grave regularly to hold one-sided conversations. “When he died I pretty much made a vow that I was gonna keep this going for both of us,” she says. “That's basically that. I'm not dead yet, so let's go out there and do it."