In Tune


By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle Local musician Leah Joseph is starting solo work and performs at local venues.
Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
Local musician Leah Joseph is starting solo work and performs at local venues.

Upon coming home from work one day, John Joseph was welcomed by the sound of “Life in the Fast Lane” coming from upstairs. As he and his wife, Renee are long-time fans of the Eagles, he thought it was she that was jamming to the classic song, but that turned out not to be the case. Instead, it was their daughter, Leah who was attempting to learn the famed guitar riffs.

In hindsight, Joseph should not have been surprised to see her practicing a new song, but he does admit it was slightly jarring to hear their preteen playing the difficult riffs and doing it quite capably at that.

“She’s only been playing guitar for four years and she’s already a better guitar player than me,” said Joseph.

Since he fronts the local band Harvest Kings, that admission could have been embarrassing, but he said it with pride and not a hint of incredulity.

“She just has a knack for it,” he said.

Leah’s aptitude for music was discovered when she began taking piano lessons at age 4. In the time since she struck her first key, her interest in music has only grown.

To date, the 12-year-old can play the alto saxophone, the ukulele, the guitar and the bass guitar though she says she needs a better understanding of its fundamentals. It was during this musical instrument exploration phase that she found a love for singing.

Her first public performance – outside of a family audience – took place at a talent showcase at Buckeye Woods in 2010. She sang “The Climb” by then favored Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. Leah was quick to point out that her fondness for all things Hannah Montana lasted for about a week.

Later that year, she had a solo in the school’s show choir and played the Wicked Witch in Little Theatre Off Broadway’s production of “Christmas in the Land of Oz.”

With the performance bug in full-force, she formed a band called The Unknown in 2011 with Vinnie Foresta, Josh Castle and Hannah Castle. They played at several local venues but their main purpose was to face off against other musicians in the Squeo Music Battle of the Bands. They lost that year, but won in 2012 with covers of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin,” Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey,” and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice, Baby.” (Leah played the bass guitar on that one and left the rapping to Vinnie and Josh.)

As school and extracurricular activities are apt to do, the limited free time put a halt to their jam sessions so The Unknown is now on a hiatus. Fortunately, Leah has begun to hit her stride as a solo artist. Over the last three years, she has performed at Arts in the Alley, the Garden Café, the Mingo Town Music Showcase, community festivals and Comfest. She has gotten so in demand lately that she has had to turn down gigs.

“School is starting to take over so there’s a lot more homework now,” she said.

But even with the workload piling up, she still finds a way to fine-tune her instruments, practice new songs to perform at events, and improve upon “Rolling in the Deep,” a favorite of hers to sing.

“You really have to belt that one out and my voice cracks on a lot of the notes,” she said. Her father jokingly reassured her that Bob Dylan cracks on every note.

Leah said she has thought about a pursuing a career in the music industry when she gets older, but not too much. Instead, she says she is focused on upcoming gigs, doing well in school, trying to learn how to play the cello and the Eagles concert she will be attending with her parents later this month.


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