The past year has been an amazing ride for Leslie Cours Mather, and it’s one she says she will never forget anytime soon.
“My first single was ‘Countrified’ – which went to the top 40 on the Music Row chart. For a debut single and a newbie who didn’t know what she was doing, I was very excited about that. Then, we had ‘Hell Hath No Fury,’ which I started doing on the radio tour.” Both of those cuts are included on Leslie’s debut EP, Countrified.
Add to that a much-buzzed-about performance at the CMA Music Festival, three videos, and a Christmas single, as further evidence that her talent is very much on the rise. The vivacious songstress, whose current single is “That Was The Whiskey,” says she will forever cherish the memories that she made while visiting Program Directors at radio stations across the country.
“I think Country Radio is an amazing and unique portion of the music industry. I think there is something so special about it that is so different from other genres. For me, it’s like being accepted into the family, and it’s made for an amazing year.”
Mather related that one of the aspects of the radio tour she enjoyed the most was getting to experience how diverse and varied the United States was – ranging from the heat and humidity of the south all the way to the cold winters of New York and Wisconsin. Then again, it’s no wonder that the singer loves to travel.
She was constantly on the move as a youngster. She was born in Singapore, but with her father serving his country as a member of the United States Army, her story includes a few other stops along the way – Indonesia, Virginia, Orlando, New Jersey, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Nashville, and Los Angeles all have been places that she has called home.
The roads that her career have taken her down have helped to serve as an education. “I have learned about time management, which has been a big thing. I think I’ve learned to be myself no matter what. Coming from a big city into Country Music, I think there’s a temptation to speak the language. People would ask me why I didn’t say ‘Y’all,’ and I thought I better do that, I better be who they thought I should be. But, I couldn’t. I’ve never been that person. I just need to be myself.
If I’m welcomed, I am, and if I’m not, I’m not. I think being true to yourself is really important.” Being true to herself is something that came naturally – and early for the singer. “I’ve always been musical, and my music always went with me. When I was eight, I begged for music lessons. We had a piano, and I had been trying to write songs on it, even though I didn’t know how to play. My parents hired a teacher for me, and I never wanted to stop practicing.” Her nomadic lifestyle growing up actually inspired her ﬁrst foray into writing.
“I wrote about moving to New Jersey when I was eight: ‘We’re going to have some fun. We’ll ride along, sing a song, and say hi to everyone.’ That’s the ﬁrst one at the piano,” she recalls with a smile. Leslie further developed her musical talents by attending Vanderbilt University in Music City. During her time in Tennessee, she also enrolled in acting school, met the man who would become her husband, and went to work for Bob Farnsworth at Hummingbird Productions.
She eventually wound up settling in the Los Angeles area, continuing to work on her craft as an artist. However, the industry can take a toll, and Leslie began to have second thoughts about a career in entertainment. “I had pretty much given up,” she confesses. “My expectation level dropped.” But, then – as has been the case with her life since day one – there was another twist in the road. An unrelated business meeting between her father and a colleague led to a series of phone calls, which led to a meeting with iconic record producer Denny Diante.
Famous for his work with legends such as B.B. King, Barbra Streisand, and Neil Diamond, he immediately tapped into his Nashville connections to bring in a “Wrecking Crew” of studio players to Blackbird Studios. Needless to say, Leslie rose to the occasion, as she and Diante hit the studio with a vengeance, resulting in the new EP.
One of the most exciting aspects of Countrified is that it allows Mather to step out of her comfort zone – and become another person for three minutes. Take the current single, for instance. “That Was The Whiskey” came in at the very end of her song selection process for the EP, but once she heard it – she wanted it.
“I had some hesitation because I’m not that person. It’s about this good Christian girl who goes out and parties one night, and finds out she likes it. You get to be a character for three or four minutes, and for me, I get to become somebody else for a few minutes.” One song that Leslie gets to bring a vamp-ish edge to is the alluring “Cry.”
She said she got to go in a little bit different of an artistic direction. “I had a discussion with Denny, and he said he wanted something a little swampy. I had been listening to a lot of The Band Perry, and I love how, on ‘Better Dig Two,’ they included bluegrass banjo with rock and roll guitars. That inspired me,” she said, adding proudly that she and Diante nailed the track – on one take. Along with “Countrified,” Mather wrote “Cry” – further proof of her talents.
Another highlight from the project is the dreamy sounds of “Fall Softer This Time,” which was co-written by the legendary Steve Dorff. Leslie says it made an immediate impact on her. “I don’t know if I have had such a strong reaction to a song I didn’t write myself, which comes from an emotional place. I just love that song.”
As Leslie Cours Mather gears up for the release of Countrified, she feels she’s got momentum on her side. “I can’t believe how blessed I feel. Every person, the musicians, the engineers, cutting at Blackbird, all the publicists and promoters – not only are they good at what they do, but their heart is in it. It’s something I will never forget, especially coming in new and having the best of the best.
Denny said ‘We have to do it right the first time because you can only have one chance to make a first impression. We are all so proud of this album. It’s representative of who I am musically and personally. The future is bright, but the present is also bright for me. I’m enjoying the moment. I think for me, that is the key. I don’t want to miss anything.”