Artist: Leon Timbo
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Latest Album: Lovers and Fools, Vol. 2
Which artists have influenced you the most…and how?
Ray Charles. Ray Charles was able to authentically represent a part of himself, within the country music genre, without losing the essence of the Ray Charles we have all come to love and know. My deep admiration for him is directly associated with the genuineness experienced in all his music, regardless of the chosen genre or sound. His ability to be himself gives me permission to be myself! As a musician, I needed that permission to do what I do.
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
My favorite kind of memory is not tied to a specific date or event but rather a unique experience I have had several times in my career. This favorite moment happens when people who don’t know who I am discover me for the first time. I’ve experienced this with people and have also been fortunate enough to experience it in rooms. You can almost feel the room holding its breath as it shares in my honesty and transparency. Eyes closed, deep breaths, and the look of connection on the audience’s face signal to me that this is a special moment to be remembered. I love those moments!
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
We create art that gives people permission to live honestly, and freely!
What has been the best advice you’ve in your career so far?
Let it go! Let go of the good, the bad, expectations, and limitations. As artists and writers, I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and sometimes it prevents us from experiencing the freedom that creative moments naturally bring. The best advice I have ever been given is to let all that stuff go and write for the moment.
What rituals do you have, either in the studio, or before a show?
Before a show and studio session, I like to practice mindfulness. I want to feel the energy of a space and figure out how to connect to it. This could mean just walking into the area and spending a few quiet moments there. Each room you enter has a sound and expectation; what worked for the last show may not work for this one. As I find my space, I visualize where I am and what narratives are essential for what I need to get across. Most times, I see myself more as a comedian than an artist. Comedians are intentional about knowing details about the cities they visit and incorporate that knowledge into their jokes. I try to do the same thing as a musician. I try to lean into what a region may be experiencing to ensure that what I bring to the stage is relevant.
Photo Credit: Jace Kartye
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