The 2017 Nash Next challenge is down to 10 finalists, and in the lead-up to the announcement of the champion on Nov. 1, NCD will be profiling each of the 10 finalists.
Today, we are getting to know the Morgan Leigh Band.
In May, Cumulus Media and Big Machine Label Group invited aspiring country artists and bands to participate in Nash Next 2017, a grassroots talent search and artist development program for country music. Sponsored nationally by Country Inns & Suites by Carlson, the winner of the competition will receive a recording contract with Nash Next Records under the Big Machine Label Group and garner substantial exposure, commensurate with a major-label release, on Cumulus radio stations nationwide.
The 10 finalists were selected by a panel of country radio professionals and will be judged in the finale by a group that includes Brooks & Dunn’s Kix Brooks and Scott Borchetta, president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group. The 10 finalists will perform at the 2017 Nash Next finale event at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is open to the public.
Morgan Leigh Band
Band Members: Morgan Leigh, Paul Coughlin, Reuel Zavala, Eric Cihonski, Gustin Flaig and Ryan Straw
Market: Oxnard/Ventura, Calif.
How did you get started in music?
I’ve been performing onstage since I was young, whether it was a musical, dance recital, monologue or choir. In a sense, music has always been a part of my life. At a young age, I decided I wanted to be a singer so I did everything I could to make my dreams come true. My parents were extremely supportive and encouraged me along the way. When I was 15, I competed in an international performing contest and something just clicked in my mind. I knew I wanted to be a singer.
At what age did you realize you wanted to make music your career?
Paul Coughlin [songwriter/rhythm guitarist] and I begin writing together when I was 17. He was renting an office space from my dad and I was just getting started as a songwriter. After writing and learning some songs together, we began playing at a local coffee shop in town. At first, we had a handful of people coming to listen, most of which were family members. Then people we didn’t know started coming to our shows. It never occurred to me that we were onto something special until we completely packed the place and had people standing in the street to listen. I’ve always wanted a career in music, but I always second guessed myself with the possibility of it actually happening. Our coffee shop shows gave me the courage and confidence to pursue music as a career. I’ll always think of the coffee shop as the place where it all began.
What three words describe you?
Vulnerable, energetic, fun.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Growing up, my dad always had country music playing in the car and my mom listened to the Beatles and Motown. Shania Twain was my idol, and my favorite CD to sing along to was Best of Motown. I’m a ’90s country girl with a little bit of soul and rock ’n’ roll.
What is unique about your sound?
I think we’ve got a really unique sound because we rock a four-part harmony. I’ve got the best back-up boys and they can sing anything. We write a lot of songs that really showcase our vocals. Plus, we’ve been singing together for five years now, so we know how to blend our voices together.
What three albums would you take with you to a deserted island?
Dixie Chicks’ Wide Open Spaces, Pistol Annies’ Hell on Heels and Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park. These three albums got me through a whole lot while growing up.
What’s a song you wish you had written?
“Gunpowder & Lead,” which was written by Miranda Lambert and Heather Little. I love everything about it—the lyrics, the production and Miranda.
What was the first concert you attended?
John Mayer in San Diego during the Continuum Tour. I was so inspired and so jealous. I wanted to be on that stage so badly and doing what he was doing. I love attending concerts, but it always leaves me itching to get onstage.
What’s the last song you heard that blew you away?
“Dear Hate” by Marren Morris and Vince Gill. It’s such a beautiful song and delivered perfectly. I heard it for the first time a day after the Route 91 Harvest Festival tragedy and I couldn’t stop listening. I just kept replaying it over and over.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
“Kiss” by Prince.
Where is the coolest place you’ve performed?
Madison Square Garden. That was a huge check off of my bucket list. It was a cool experience singing in New York City at one of the world’s most famous arenas.