Musician Donates Efforts to the Library System

Alan LeathermanMeet Alan Leatherman. Alan was raised in the Houston area and now finds himself dealing with the success of his debut album, Detour Ahead. Wanting to give back, Alan has donated copies of his CD to the Harris County Public Library’s collection. Alan is a former NFAA (National Foundation for Advancement in Arts) Awardee and went on to study at both Juilliard and New York University as a master candidate in Vocal Performance. Along with his donation, Alan was able to answer some questions for the Aldine Branch:

Aldine Branch: How did you get started in music?

Alan Leatherman: I've always really loved music, and it has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. From the days as a little kid staying up late with my pops listening to the Spinners, O'Jays, and Stevie Wonder; to listening to hip hop, R&B, neo-soul, and discovering jazz. In terms of singing, I got a relative late start, actually not starting to sing until around my junior year in high school. The first live performance was in a talent competition called the Sammy Awards, there in Houston, and I made it to the finals and was nominated for an award. From there, my love of music, along with performance, was solidified.   

Aldine: Who have been and are your influences?

AL: I've had a wide range influences. To me, good music, is good music no matter the genre. So I've been into everyone from D'Angelo, Groove Theory, The Roots, Nat King Cole, Eddie Jefferson, Sammy Davis Jr., Sublime, and A Tribe Called Quest. There are just too many to name. As of late, I have really been into Jose James, Esperanza Spalding, and Gretchen Parlato. In particular Jose James, who has continued to incorporate a number of his many influences to whatever he is working on.  

Aldine: I’m going to pull back the curtain here a little bit. The truth is that you are fairly successful (and busy) with what people would call a “regular job”, so why the music career?

AL: Yep, still doing the "day gig" for now. Music is the true driver in my life, but living in New York, just drive alone won't put food on the table or in your stomach. So you have to be creative and sometime do work you would rather not. For me, it’s been a back and forth between Music and Finance. But I can’t knock the day gig too much, it did pay for the recording and promotion of Detour Ahead, which is pretty amazing. 

Aldine: Reviews are saying that this album is providing a new perspective on old standards. Can you elaborate on that?

AL: Are they saying that? I'll take it ;) - I think it's kind of what I was saying before, my approach to any song, is to bring to the table all the other influences that have effected me to that point. No matter the genre or style. All too often, people are very formulaic with their approach when recording a vocal "jazz record", putting on their jazz blinders and starting from there. On this recording I have tried to include all my inspirations, sometimes even taking criticism for not being "jazz enough". But in the end, I always try and do music I like, and hope at least some will like it and come along for the ride. 

A big thanks goes out to Alan for his time and efforts. Copies of his CD are now ready for check-out.