Possessing a voice that commands attention and a songwriter's gift for assessing life's most disarming situations and distilling them into potent anthems, Kelleigh Bannen is emerging as one of the country format's most engaging new artists.
Kelleigh knew early on that she wanted to write music that would both inspire and entertain. Though she has the vocal chops to find success in any genre, country has long been her vehicle of choice. "Growing up country was always what I was listening to on the radio," says Kelleigh, who was born in Pontiac, Michigan, but moved to Nashville when she was three years old. "I truly love country radio and I think as a songwriter, it's really the only genre that treats songs so seriously. The song is king."
Though her mom recalls Kelleigh trying to write her first song at age two, inspired by the "word of the day" on Sesame Street, she admits she put her musical dreams aside in college. She decided to take the practical route and pursue a career in law. However, joining a vocal ensemble while attending the University of Virginia reignited her passion for music and she began writing songs in earnest. After relocating to Atlanta she further honed her songwriting skills and performed at her first open mic night at Eddie's Attic. She soon realized that she needed to move back to Nashville to pursue her dream.
In 2009, she embarked on an ambitious "90 Gigs in 90 Days" tour that caught the attention of producer Paul Worley and ultimately led to her record deal. However, much more than just a vehicle to propel her budding career, the tour was a personal mission in honor of her younger brother Grant, who passed away after a long battle with addiction. "The one year anniversary of his death was looming and I was thinking about what I could do with my music that would honor Grant and this idea struck," says Kelleigh, who used the tour to draw attention to addiction and the dedication it takes for an addict to commit to a recovery program. "The premise is when people are entering recovery, they go to 90 meetings in 90 days if they are working in an AA program so I thought, 'Okay what if I can play 90 shows in 90 days?'"
Kelleigh Bannen has come a long way from the precocious five-year-old who wowed people with her prowess on the Suzuki violin. She's blossomed into the artist she was meant to be, gaining attention with songs including "Sorry On The Rocks" and "Famous." "I love creating," she says. "Whether it's creating onstage in the moment or creating in the writer's room, there's something kind of magical. I want there to be that invitation for people to just to lean in a little bit with me and be themselves. I hope it feels like an invitation and then I do hope that in sharing truth about my own heart, that it's a life giving thing in some way."
"I love creating. Whether it’s creating onstage in the moment or creating in the writer’s room, there’s something kind of magical."