“I grew up steeped in classic music—spanning 1970’s riff-rock, blues, and Motown—listening to iconic female singers like Dolly Parton, Etta James, and Bobbie Gentry. Women who weren’t afraid to be determined, powerful, and even tough, if necessary. But each of them also have a deep and beautiful vulnerability to both their music and their singing. That blend is what’s always been magical to me.” The influence of these multi-faceted idols is clearly evident in Leigh’s own songwriting: at times brawny and raucous with bayou slide-guitar riffs and big, brassy, singing. At others, tenderly soulful, with honeyed vocals, and introspective lyrics.
Written and recorded over a two-year period, Tonight, I’m Unchained is unique in an additional way: the 25-year-old artist at its helm was—truly—at its helm. Leigh co-produced the album, wrote or co-wrote all the songs, and is releasing it on the label she’s founded: Starfish Music (ECR Music Group).
“I’ve been surrounded by strong, independent women my whole life,” says a smiling Leigh. “I’m not about to not be one of them.”
Though Tonight, I’m Unchained is Bari Leigh’s debut album, excitement about her music has already been building from early DIY recordings that Leigh released prior to founding Starfish Music. Surprisingly, national and college radio embraced the tracks, as did the taste-making music press. This early notoriety culminated with a feature about Leigh and her music on national television, with CBS’s Entertainment Tonight.
Another key endorsement for Leigh’s music came during the making of the new record. For the final stages of the album’s production, Leigh brought in artist, producer, and indie-music stalwart Blake Morgan, who agreed to both mix and master the new record. “Bari has just the kind of defiant, independent spirit that I love to see—and hear—in an emerging artist. This is a record well-worth paying attention to.”
Now, Bari Leigh stands eagerly at the exciting threshold she’s worked so hard to arrive at. “Making this album has already helped me realize two of my greatest dreams: I feel I’ve learned who I am as an artist and who I am as a woman. The good news is, they’re the same person. Where I go from here is up to me.”