Although she’s been a Nashville resident for years now, California-native Leah Turner hasn’t stayed far from her Morongo Valley roots in the way her personal past informs her current creativity and outlook. Her assured sense of self has served her well as she’s continued to progress in her career.
In 2014, Turner scored her first Top 40 country radio hit with the addictively fun-loving “Take the Keys,” around the time she toured the country opening for mega-star Brad Paisley. Last year, along with Stephanie Quayle, Tenille Townes and more, Turner was named to the 2019 class of CMT’s prestigious Next Women of Country, before independently releasing her new single, “Blah Blah Blah, and its brand-new video.
Having lived in both the major label realm of Music City, as well as her current place in the indie world, Turner has seen many sides, good and bad, of the industry that is the country music business. The experiences have seemed to combine into an overwhelmingly productive, positive view on how she will proceed, regardless of the obstacles in her way. We recently caught up with Turner to talk about her California beginnings as well as her experiences working with legendary musicians and major movie stars.
I read that you wrote your first song when you were only six years-old. What do you remember about the tune?
Yes, I did! It was on my way back from church and my best friend was moving. I just started humming this melody and putting lyrics to it. It went something like “Friends are friends forever, just like Mama said,” or something like that.
So many artists move to Nashville to find success. But I doubt many of them can say they’ve crossed paths with Kenny Loggins and David Foster before arriving in town. How do you think your path leading to Nashville has helped you since arriving?
Sometimes when I think about the opportunities I’ve had, I can’t even believe it. Crossing paths with David Foster and being able to record with him made me very quick in the studio when recording vocals. He taught me to put emotion in every word that comes out of my mouth. Just being around David, you feel great! And having Kenny Loggins give a nod to your songwriting skills is priceless!
You worked with the actor Jeremy Renner on his upcoming record, too. How did that come about?
A manager friend of mine saw that I was in L.A. and he called me and my longtime collaborator and best friend to come write for an artist he was working with. He literally didn’t tell us anything. We went to our producer friend Dallas Austin’s studio and listened to the music. The voice we heard was incredible! I said, “who is this?” and he said “Jeremy Renner,” and I was like, “the actor, what?!” Then the two year process started, writing and recording and re-writing and re-recording all at his home in the Hollywood hills. His music is incredible and he is a great guy!
Sounds like a great experience!
It was incredible. He’s a fantastic actor and so multi-talented. I can’t wait for people to hear his voice and his heart.
“Take the Keys” reached the Top 40 five years ago. As it was spending time on the charts, were you filled with the sort of “O.K., I’ve hit the big-time” type of optimism I would think is natural for a young artist under those circumstances?
I knew I had a big hit on my hands [laughing]! That song has carried me for four years! I was at Sony at a time when there was a regime change, and its hard for a song from a new artist to have a life in that situation, but it made its way into the Top 40, which is a pretty awesome accomplishment for your first single!
What did you learn from the experience of having a song hit the Top 40 that you have been able to apply to your life and career now that you have new music coming out?
I learned to do your best, put your best foot forward and then ‘let go and let God!’ You will kill yourself, your mind and your creativity trying to control what happens with a song, but that’s definitely easier said that done.
You’re going to release a Spanish version of “Blah Blah Blah,” which sounds really fun. Is “blah blah blah” a term that is used often in Spanish to mean the same thing as it does in English?
It’s been really awesome embracing my Latina side! I kept the “blah blah blah” in English, since its not a particular saying in Spanish. But I do think B.S. transcends all languages, and this is what this song is about, hearing nothing but words, over-promising and under-delivering!