Interview | FFS 5 with Allison Leah

Most of us have held an ear privy towards the old pronoun once or twice before—that “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” And for many of us moreover, no singular year has better expressed this tone as routinely as 2020. Yet, times of darkening adversity also lend themselves towards moments of healing, of unification, and greater change. Allison Leah leans into this positive light on her new single, ‘We Can Still Sing’. A choral call to arms for love, kindness, and respect, the singer-songwriter has effectively woven a beautiful anthem for this precise moment in history.

Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?

Hi! My name is Allison Leah and I’m a folk-pop singer-songwriter from New York.

I’ve been creating music for as long as I can remember. My first “defining moment” was when I was 8 – I was singing along to ‘School House Rock’ videos at a holiday party when an agent heard me and asked me to sing in commercial jingles like the ‘Hess Truck’ commercial! I loved it, and this early exposure to the music industry showed me at a young age that a career in music is possible. 

Once I was in college at SUNY Geneseo I started pursuing my career as a singer-songwriter by playing shows around the town and opening for bands that played at my college. In the two years since graduating, I’ve gone on tour, opened for artists that I look up to, released my EP and other singles, heard my music on the radio, and played at some of my favorite venues. Playing a show and hearing a room full of people sing my songs back to me is something I could have only dreamed of when I started writing music.

One of my favorite moments was when I performed a private house concert for a family in Spain and they knew the words to my music. It really hit me that my music is connecting with people from all over the world. With my new single, ‘We Can Still Sing’, I’m seeing people from all over the world “cover” this song on social media, which is incredible. I could have never predicted these moments, but they are the ones that make this career so special.

As an artist, how do you define success?

To me, success is having the respect of the people that I look up to in the music industry.

What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?

Juggling all the different aspects of being an independent artist has its rewards and its challenges. I treat my music career as a business, so not only am I spending my time writing music and performing, but I also book my own shows, run my social media & website, handle business expenses, merchandise, branding, marketing, outreach, tour planning, and so much more! I absolutely love what I do, but sometimes it can feel like I’m working 5 full-time jobs, which can get overwhelming. 

What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist? What do you hope to achieve?

Honestly, my goals keep changing as I grow and discover my path as an artist. Right now, a goal I have is to play the festival circuit (once we can play live shows again), but in the long run I hope I am able to give back to the people who have supported me. And I hope to continue making music that connects with people. I truly believe that if I keep working hard and creating the best music I can, the sky’s the limit.

Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?

I love traveling and photography! And I find being passionate about the arts in general contributes to my creativity. My love for travel fuels my love for touring. I enjoy sightseeing and exploring new cities, so when I go on tour and get to do this AND meet people who have connected with my music, it’s an amazing feeling.

Traveling has also come up in my writing! It is a huge theme in my song ‘Colorado’ (Available on my EP, Fly Home).

Words by: Jonathan Frahm