Oklahoma performer goes back to her roots with new country record
Oklahoma native Leigh Madison writes a different song nearly every day, but most people don't ever get to hear them.
However, that is about to change as Madison's first extended play record, "Wedding Crasher" is getting ready for release.
Though it's been a long journey of ups and downs for the former Broadway touring musical “Rent” star, Madison said she is finally on her way to doing what she loves and sharing her experiences through country music.
Madison said writing music always has been a way for her to express her emotions, similar to how a journal or diary is a way for some people to share their stories in life.
“When I get an opportunity to share music and share a song with people who relate and are moved by it and then our stories start to relate and intertwine through that — that's the magic of music that I love so much,” Madison said.
Music has been a part of Madison's life since she was only 3 years old and being part of the recording of the Christian records of her mother, Nancy Hetherington.
“When she was 3, I could tell then that she just had really good pitch,” Nancy Hetherington said. “It was a very good experience for her as a very young child to be in a recording studio and to put those earphones on and sing and be a part of that process, so that kind of started her I think.”
Steve Hetherington, Madison's father, said it was obvious to him and his wife that their daughter had found her passion in performing, and when Madison wanted to get into musical theater, they supported her.
- Related to this story
- Article: Oklahoma country music artist releases EP
“He's kind of been like her cheerleader,” Nancy Hetherington said.
Madison went on to make several theatrical appearances in shows across the Oklahoma City area at a very young age. At 18, Madison began writing her own songs for guitar, and by the time she was 20, she was starring opposite of Neil Patrick Harris as Maureen in the Los Angeles touring company production of the Broadway musical “Rent.”
“It was just this deep, rich, soulful, life experience that I got to live on stage every night, and I got to sing this crazy rock n' roll music and just had a blast. It was truly an honor,” Madison said.
Things were going great for Madison, but eventually, life got in the way.
“Her dream from a young age was to be a performer, and she's taken very many different roads,” Steve Hetherington said. “She's getting there, but like her one song said, 'It's how it's supposed to be.' ”
'Home in my heart'
Though Madison ended up veering from the Broadway scene, she still kept music in her life by continuously writing songs and singing at funerals and nursing homes. When she met fellow performer, Jeff Scott Wood, everything started to fall into place again.
Wood said he began writing songs straight out of college, and when an Oklahoma City entertainment attorney introduced him to Madison, the two began collaborating on songs together.
“They've just really complimented each other and worked really really well together. He thinks she has a chance,” Steve Hetherington said. “It just takes someone that has the power to believe in her to make it happen.”
Madison and Wood finished recording Madison's six song EP in late June, for which Madison held a private concert showcasing some of their work.
A couple of Madison's songs on the record speak to Madison's experience growing up in Oklahoma. Madison said her song “My Roots Run Deep,” describes what it feels like for her to return to Oklahoma after traveling outside of the state.
“When I sing about how much Oklahoma means to me, it's just this feeling I get when I'm here,” Madison said. “It just feels like home in my heart — that's the best way I can describe it.”
Madison's songs about Oklahoma and pecan pie are lighthearted compared to some of her other work, where she sings about some of the hardest experiences she's had to go through.
Her song “Worn at the Seams,” was written for her 9-year-old daughter, Kaya, she said.
“I was sitting there really grieving the loss of a friend that night and thinking about ‘If I knew then what I know now way back in my life, how would I have lived my life differently?',” Madison said. “And I knew I wouldn't make any choices different than I have because it all led me in life to be the mother that I get to be for my daughter.”
Steve Hetherington said he thinks the challenges Madison has had to face have helped her become a better artist.
“I don't think she could've written those songs in her 20s. She had to live it to write it,” he said.
With the upcoming release of her new EP, Madison said she hopes it will help her get her foot in the door in Nashville and is excited to be able to finally share her original music with the world.
“I'm now going to have something that I can share with the world to help me connect with more people,” Madison said. “Getting to this point where I was able to collaborate with Jeff Scott Wood and write these songs — just getting to this point already feels like a dream come true for me.”
New, upcoming music
Leigh Madison's EP record "Wedding Crasher" is currently being mixed in studio, but it can be found at http://leighmadison.com/music/ in a few months.
Madison's collaborative partner, Jeff Scott Wood, recently released an album titled "We Salute You All," which can be found on iTunes or at http://jeffscottwood.com/.