This week’s guest is Leah Canali, whose career journey has seen her achieve great success for over 20 years as a vocalist, songwriter, session singer, and commercial jingle composer. Leah is a multi-genre master with a voice that has been described as having a signature smoky soulful tone, with a healthy dose of coveted whistle tones.

Leah is known as the Queen who sings for Queens and in this episode, Leah shares her many career highlights which include becoming one of the go-to vocalists and songwriters for the RuPauls Drag Race franchise, having written, recorded and performed with many of the franchise’s stars. In 2021, Leah co-wrote, produced and sang on “The Taste” EP which debuted at #5 on the iTunes Pop Charts and featured the song “Come Through” which went viral on TikTok. Her many performance credits include The Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Pride Toronto, World Pride, World Fashion Week, as well as The Official Inaugural Party of Barack Obama. Leah gives us an insight into her career trajectory, her songwriting process, the skills that emerging artists need in order to have sustainable careers, how she manages her own vocal health during a busy working schedule, the importance of self-care for performing artists, issues around misogyny in the performing arts and so much more. This episode with Leah Canali is not to be missed.

Find Leah online

In this episode

04:40 — The Origin Story of Leah Canali

08:30 — Healthily Equipping Different Instruments

15:07 — The Genre That’s Connected to the Soul

16:51 — An Arrangement Towards Unexpected Things

20:07 — The Queen Who Sings for Queens

27:19 — BTS on the Queen’s Iconic and Memorable Songs

32:43 — What is the Credibility of an Artist?

36:17 — The Inaugural Party of Obama

38:56 — Making Performing a Steady Income

42:01 — Being a Woman in the Music Industry

44:50 — A Good Performance Reflects a Healthy Body

55:17 — Leah’s Achievements and Goals

59:23 — Best Piece of Advice to Emerging Artists


Dr Marisa Lee Naismith is excited to announce the release of her new book “Singing Contemporary Commercial Music Styles: A Pedagogical Framework” published by Compton Publications UK. Marisa offers this book as a starting point and as CCM markets continue to evolve, she encourages that we, as a voice community, continue to evolve, debate and communally add to this framework.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:05

It’s Marisa Lee here. And I’m so excited to be sharing today solo round episode with you. Whether you’re a member of the voice community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. And my mission, which has been inspired by my own personal and professional journey is to empower you to share your gift with others. Now is the time for you to discover your voice in life, develop a positive mindset, and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, and you can become the director of your own life. It’s time for you to live your best live. It’s time now, for A Voice and Beyond. So, without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:15

Our guest on the show this week is Leah Canali, whose career journey has seen her achieve great success as a vocalist, songwriter, a session singer and commercial jingle composer but over 20 years, Leah is a multi-genre master with a voice that has been described as having a signature smoky soulful tone with a healthy dose of coveted whistle tones. Leah is known as the Queen Who Sings for Queens and in this episode, Leah shares her many career highlights which includes becoming one of the go to vocalist and songwriters for the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise having written, recorded and performed with many of the franchises stars. In 2021, Leah co-wrote and produced a song on The Taste EP, which debuted at number five on the iTunes pop charts and featured the song Come Through which went viral on Tiktok. Her many performance credits include the Boston Red Sox, World Pride, World Fashion Week, as well as the official inaugural party of Barack Obama. Leah gives us an insight into her songwriting process, the skills that emerging artists need in order to have sustainable careers, how she manages her own vocal health during a busy working schedule, the importance of self care for performing artists, issues around misogyny in the performing arts, and so much more. This is a not to be missed show with Leah Canali. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:25

Welcome to the show. Our guest today is Leah Canali. And is that how you pronounce it?

Leah Canali  03:32

I say Canali. Yeah, Leah Elise Canali is my full name. Yep. Although a lot of people call me Cannoli.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:39

Really? Is that because you come from an Italian background?

Leah Canali  03:42

I think that’s part of it. And they just see Canali and, and always funnier and cuter and but you know, at all answer to it. If it’s delicious. I’ll probably answer to it Canali can let me.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:56

It’s so good. So Leah we met on a cruise ship. You were a guest entertainer on Celebrity Beyond and that was during my adventures. When I was calling it A Voice and Beyond was going beyond. And I literally was going beyond and I had the fabulous opportunity of meeting you watching you perform on board the ship. So you are a vocalist. And in addition to your stage life, you’re a songwriter, incredible songwriter, a session vocalist, and a commercial jingle composer. So you’ve got quite a career going on. So let’s start where did all this begin?

Leah Canali  04:38

Oh, Lord. Yeah, the origin story of Leah Canali. I was actually a very painfully shy child. So kind of ironic that I ended up as a drummer, but I always had a really high high voice and my dad when I was younger, he used to kind of like, find it. I don’t know funny, proud dad. Well, whatever whatever to like, make his kid kind of do stuff. And so he’d made me sing like Phantom of the Opera. There’s a very funny video old VHS. That’s how old I am camcorder VHS. We, you know, at three years old, and you kind of have the opera for family friends mortified, though, because I was so shy, but I did always love singing. And then and my parents were big music people. So my dad played the accordion. But my mom was just a music lover. She doesn’t play any instruments. She doesn’t sing. But she just loves music. She always has music on in the house. Big musical theater band. So I grew up with a lot of musical theater in the house. And my dad was like a Buddy Holly guy, that era. And then obviously my mom, you know, the pop of the 60s was kind of her jam. So the Beatles and all that stuff. The Animals she loves all. Yes. Yes. So yeah, there was always music in my house. And then yeah, I mean, when you’re a little girl who or boy, I guess, or anything in between that can sing high, they want you to sing high. So I did. I sang a lot for you know, school functions and stuff. And then it probably kicked off for like, for real in middle school, high school. I started doing a lot of theater. And then I started training classically trained Metso soprano, De Nuda Saba Wissota is her name. And she was big Europeans soprano, for years. And so I trained with her. And then I went to school for musical theater. And then you know, my boys kind of dropped down into a more soulful, kind of smoky place. And so I started doing more pop, soul R&B, out of college, and, and it kind of went from there. So I started bands and writing and kind of all I had, it’s a wide variety of things. But. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  06:44

Yes, yes. Because you do sing a wide variety of music and listening to the what you were saying about the music that was being played in your house. That is such a wide variety of music there. So I suppose all that music was your inspiration at that time?

Leah Canali  07:06

Yeah, for sure. I mean, even down to like, my dad was a big Andre Bocelli fan. So you know, we had a lot of opera in the house, too, so. Oh, my gosh, so everything. Yeah, just so just a wide spread. If it’s good, if it’s good, and my mom loves like a driving beat. It’s so funny. I feel like she’s, she’s a secret raver maybe. But no, she likes it. She likes epic beats she likes. I think she likes the feeling of the music. And you know, who doesn’t love a good like Poppy Hook? So oh, count me in.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  07:36

Right. Count me in out, man. I’m mad girl.

Leah Canali  07:40

Oh, totally. And and like, to my mom’s credit to she, you know, introduced me to a lot of like, female artists that were really amazing people like Joni Mitchell. You know, and I think I think it’s really important. You know, I don’t have children myself. But I do think it’s really important. If you do have kids, just to have music on in the house to actually introduce them to music. I just think it’s it’s a really important thing for humans to hear all day.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:06

Absolutely. Yeah, the joy, the joy that music brings. And it’s interesting that you had this high voice. And so you’re obviously soprano, you go and have training, classical training with a Metzo yeah. And then you ended up going into the pop and rock genres and soul and, and R&B. So those lessons that you had, how did they equip you for the styles that you wanting to sing? Or you ended up singing? Like, was that a natural transition? Because they were in your ear? Or did you have to figure that out as a vocalist for yourself?

Leah Canali  08:47

I mean, I would say it’s a firm yes and no. So I think the thing with classical training, it’s, it is a good foundational start for anything really big. I mean, there’s lots of different vocal pedagogies that are great foundations, you don’t have to be classically trained. I think we have this rhetoric that it’s like, oh, it’s classical. So that’s the one and you have to do that with so many different kinds of vocal pedagogy that yeah, that are emerging now, you know, is starting to give more credence to you know, soul, jazz, blues, the roots there. And I think training in general is just really important if you go if you’re going to be a singer, whether or not it’s classical is sort of a different thing. And it can actually be harder to transition from classical to doing more pop stuff. The one thing I will say with classical training is it is kind of a, I would say a celebration of the human voice. So it is really a vocal instrument centric training. So when my voice is tired, when I am at the end of a long week or a long month with a lot of gigs, I do find that like those those foundational bricks really do help me carry through and I’m able to, you know, gig gig gig and not lose my voice, which is very important. But there’s yeah, there’s definitely technique things that are different across the different trainings. For me. Another big thing that happened in sort of the arc of my singing career was that when I first started singing professionally, I was straight out of college, I was actually still in college. So I started I did have some professional gigs, like, late teens, early 20s, but really going full into it. I was the end of college. And I worked for a big entertainment company in Boston, I worked for harbor cruise that did cabarets, lunch and dinner cap raise, I was still doing work in school and like to finish my program. So my voice was basically blown. And I went to vocal therapy. And in Boston, it was a program called Vocal Therapy for the Professional Vocalist. And I was lucky because I didn’t need surgery. I just I was I was overworked and not working smart. And so my vocal was had this little woman named Mary can’t remember her last name now. But yeah, she was like, she was like, I think you’re working too hard. And I think you’re used to a certain style of singing and now you’re singing a different style. And we’re gonna, we’re gonna just bridge the gap and make sure that you are singing the styles that you want, but healthily, so she kind of Haha, yeah. Sounds in easier ways. So like, sometimes we think we have to push so hard from certain areas of our body. And that is also a classical thing. Right? That diet. Yes. Feel supported. Big chested boy vocal.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  11:33

Large volumes of air. 

Leah Canali  11:36

Yeah, and perhaps that you don’t need it. And so she really kind of helped me bridge the gap there. I will say like, I’m a very vibrato a singer I always have been a lot of sopranos are we tend to be, which is great for classical music. It is also great for pop music as well, like some people don’t like vibrato. But if you listen to some of the popular singers like they do have a natural robot, like Whitney has a natural vibrato to her voice, Arianna has a natural vibrato to her voice, there is a way to make opera or vibrato very poppy. So for me that was a big building block as well, was transitioning what I knew from my original training into how to create these more R&B pop sounds with the same instrument.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  12:19

Yes. So how to create those in a more healthier, sustainable way. So the classical training, it sounds like to me you had a fantastic teacher. And she taught you some some really good skills. But then it was time for you to then as you call it bridge the gap between what we call CCM in our industry, which is Contemporary Commercial Music styles. To yes, so classical to CCM. Because when it came to that kind of workload, it wasn’t sustaining you.

Leah Canali  12:55

Yeah. And, you know, there’s a lot of factors that went into that an initial blowout that were also completely not even related to stress in my life, finishing a college degree starting out professionally, for the first time working crazy hours that had never worked before, you know, like most theatre shows ended, and some of these gigs I was doing, we’re going to do I am and then yes, there’s a lot that goes into just keeping an instrument healthy. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  13:24

Yes. And earning money. Yeah, that’s what we have to do in our industry. We have to work to get paid, we don’t work, we don’t get paid. We don’t have food on the table, and you do what you have to do. And you have to hustle. And you’ve, you’ve just got to get out there and take everything.

Leah Canali  13:42

Absolutely. And yeah, especially right out the gate, you do feel like you have to take everything that comes along. And even like now, I mean, I’m going to be 40 next year, and I’ve been singing professionally for many years, I still have trouble saying no to gigs, because I’m like, Oh God, it’ll never I’ll never get another one. And it’s like, that’s not how it works. In some gigs, you have to say no to and you just let them go. And they’re not for you. And they’re for somebody else. And you know, there’s working hard and there’s working smart. And I think sometimes we like conflate the two in this industry where we’re like, oh, we’re working. We’re busy. We’re doing it. But it’s like we’re not actually working smart, though. And if you kind of let some things go, I have found especially recently that the things will kind of fill in the gaps. You don’t need anything. Yes. Yeah. That’s a hard lesson to learn in the entertainment industry. It really is.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  14:34

It is.

Leah Canali  14:35

You never know what doors going to open after you walk through another one. So I sympathize with people coming straight out the gate. And especially now with like, so many mediums and so many things going on. But yeah, I mean, I’d say the foundational training that I got was incredible and it has certainly sustained me in my adulthood and you know, everyone’s while when I need to pull that off fun like high vibrato-y aria notes or whatever, it’s, it’s great. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  15:05

It’s still there.

Leah Canali  15:06

It’s still there.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  15:07

So your voice has been described as having a signature smoky soulful tone with a high dose of coveted whistle tones. And you’re a multi-genre master. And I’ve seen you seen across a number of styles in your show, where do you feel now? You’re almost 20 years in the industry that your voice feels most comfortable and what genre you most happiest singing to?

Leah Canali  15:35

Yeah, I typically saw an R&B Are my or my to go twos. Now. I mean, even when, like you saw my show, like even when I do musical theater, I usually do it with, I do arrangements that like I’ve worked on, that are more soulful, that are more R&B. And the cool thing now is, is that idea of taking one one song like that song and turning it into a different genre is, is quite common and popular now. Yes, I really liked that because I do like singing soul quite a lot. So to be able to take a song that I relate to on a subject matter level, but maybe not on a style level, and then turn that into a style that I do relate to vocally is a really cool thing that I think a lot of vocalists are doing now, especially with like, there’s so many covers on Spotify, and title and all of the different types. Yes, yes. Yes. Instagram. And it’s it’s nice to be able to take a song that you do really connect with and turn it into something that you want. Yes. That being said, like sometimes I like to throw out a little like straight out musical theater, you know, a little Don’t Rain on My Parade, and I’m into it. But yeah, I would say the genre that I sit most firmly in would be soul and R&B.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  16:51

And do you write those arrangements yourself? Do you come up with those yourself? Or do you have an arranger that does it for you?

Leah Canali  16:58

So a little bit of both. In the case of the the show that I do on The Beyond, I do an arrangement of She Used to Be Mine, which I got together with a writing partner of mine, and we conceived together. And then there’s some other arrangements that are in my show that are soulful arrangements that, you know, I did just hire somebody to arrange for me. I’m lucky I’ve, I’ve worked with a lot of really incredible musicians in my career. And so I do have a really lovely family of musicians that I can call and be like, Hey, I have this idea. I don’t know if it’s going to work. Like, can we workshop this and I’ll sing through what I’m thinking. And maybe we can you can help me, you know, I don’t actually play the piano. I mean, I can play a band. I always say play singer piano. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  17:41

Yeah, so nothing wrong with that other. Nothing wrong with that.

Leah Canali  17:47

I can. I can, I can write, you know, songs and stuff. But if I want like a proper piano arrangement, I’m gonna go to a pianist who I trust and but yeah, I do have a great bank of people that I work with. So a little bit of both, like, sometimes I’ll, I’ll come up with something, and then we’ll bring it to fruition. Or sometimes I will literally say like, Hey, I think we could do this gospel style. What do you think? And then they’ll come up with something that maybe I wouldn’t have even thought of? 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  18:12

So you have to have that team of people around you that know you will know your work and, and speak your speech?

Leah Canali  18:18

Yeah, yeah. We’re gonna Leah Canali-ze the song which is usually slowed down to make it soulful.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  18:26

That’s not too much to ask. And, you know, you’re talking about all these covers on YouTube. I love some of the covers that are out there.

Leah Canali  18:36

Absolutely stunning, in some cases better than the originals. You know, I mean I talked about in my show actually a lot. Where as a songwriter myself, I think it is very cool when somebody takes something you’ve written and turns it into something that you never expected, right? Like you have credible examples of that throughout history. I mean, the classic obviously, number one for me, it would be the I Will Always Love You version, which is we Dolly’s version is amazing. And we love Dolly. But like the Whitney version really is version of that song.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  19:07

I know. So yeah, I know.

Leah Canali  19:09

I know when you do that. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  19:11

But also towards teaching up and coming performers. Or some of my younger students when I say younger, like the the ones that are in my program, that 17-18 straight out of school, that you don’t have to sing like the original artists, and it’s giving people ideas and planting the seed that you can have your own style, and you need to have your own signature sound if you want to be successful. It’s no point sounding like Adele. If Adele’s already been discovered, she’s already made millions of dollars. Yeah, we always we already have Adele. So we don’t need another one. You need to find the sound that that really works for you. And that’s what you’re saying. You’ve found what works for you and that is what’s making you money. It’s not you imitating other artists. And so I read on your website that you are The Queen Who Sings for Queens and you have a big fan in rapport, I guess, avid follower of yours. And how did he discover you? 

Leah Canali  20:23

It’s wild. So yeah, the sort of the history of Leah and the queens. So, in at that same time that I started singing professionally, I was just started living with a gaggle of drag queens, I lived with three drag queens in this little dingy basement apartment and Boston mass at the end of Boylston Street. It’s right near Fenway Park.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  20:42

I’ve stayed there. I’ve stayed there. Not far from Berklee College.

Leah Canali  20:48

Yes, exactly. Right. And that building actually is like a Berkeley building. It’s not officially in Berkeley building. But all pretty much everybody that lives there is either Berkeley or bulk or the Boston Conservatory. But yeah, I lived in the basement we had, I was one of those places that, you know, it holds a very special place in my heart. That apartment was the last firm that I have. I lived in Boston, and the people that, you know, I lived with there really did shape who I became as a human and as a performer. And one of the things that I used to do was, yeah, perform with drag queens, and I went into my adult life doing that as well. I do a lot of like, drop ends and drag shows. Yeah, became a big part of my career, the LGBT community became a big part of my career, I perform at Pride a lot. So years ago, I did a cabaret it was called All My Friends Are on Broadway. And it’s, it was basically just talking about working in this industry and how you end up if you work long enough working with a lot of people that end up on Broadway on TV and films like you just you kind of have a bank of people that you know, you know, that are doing cool things. Yes. And a bunch of my friends have ended up on RuPaul’s Drag Race. And so in that show I did as my like song about the Queen’s I did a soul full version of Sissy That Walk, which is one of RuPaul’s biggest songs. And I’d always been a fan of RuPaul actually, even before drag race I was I watched the RuPaul show back in the day, like I was I was a RuPaul fan even before the masses. So yeah, so I did this little cover of Sissy That Walk and somebody filmed it live and then put it up. It was when Facebook started to have those like, you know, embedded videos and put it up on Facebook. And it started getting shared views from the UK and it started getting shared all over the UK. And I was like, oh maybe I should actually do something with this. So I went into a recording studio did a proper recording of it with my band, and then filmed a video at a ball in Toronto. So if you know anything about the ballroom scene, the Volkers. Yeah, so it’s me walking at a ball. I’m actually a member of a house. It’s called the House of Nuance. My ballroom name is Siren Nuance.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  23:03

I want to know if there’s anything you don’t do.

Leah Canali  23:07

Many things I don’t do but but that’s that is one of them. I do do. And yeah, so I filmed this video, and then I just like throw it up on YouTube, not really thinking anything of it. And then it went crazy on Twitter and RuPaul started sharing it over and over and over again. And then he started sharing all of my stuff. And then I did follow up videos and I just started covering I realized actually, in listening to his catalogue RuPaul songs are actually great pop songs like they’re very obviously produced and electro, you know, there’s a lot going on in them in the actual recordings. But when you just strip them down, they’re really really great songs. A friend of a songwriting friend of mine actually, he always says like if you can strip a song down and just play it with voice and an acoustic guitar, you know, you have a lot of room to do that with. So that’s sort of what I started doing. And then I met him. And then he started sharing my stuff to like my albums, my videos, and it’s been really crazy. Like I got an email from him on my birthday this year. It’s just been really wild. And then yeah, I transitioned into riding with Queens for the franchise of my writing partner Stacy Kay’s Verna and she’s another amazing singer from Canada, who’s just on Canada’s Got Talent, actually. And yeah, we she actually reached out to her we saw each other on music video, shoot, we were your background, sort of at a music video shoot, she’s like, you know, Canada’s Drag Race is coming, right? And I was like, I do know, she’s like, we need to start demoing stuff. So we just got together and we started demoing songs. And then one of them got purchased by Brooklyn Heights who is a former RuPaul girl and now the host of Canada’s Drag Race. Oh really? Our song Queen of the North ended up being her first single and then it ended up being the finale song of two seasons ago on Canada’s Drag Race is the first time a non RuPaul song was used as a finale song ever in the franchise. Yes. But then yeah, with a bunch of a bunch of Queens since then. We had a song go viral on Tiktok. Yeah.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  25:08

Well, because you have you have actually written and recorded and performed with a number of like this Cartier, Trixie Mattel. I don’t know any of these people. But these people that some of these drag queens that you’ve worked with, I mean, when you watch the show, some of them are real divas. Like, are they like that in real life? Or is it just to put on for the show? Because they want to kill each other. Sometimes they get, they get so nasty.

Leah Canali  25:40

I think the thing would drag race you have to also remember it is reality television, right? So a lot of them are playing into the fact that it is a reality TV show. Yeah. And you get airtime. And you know, sometimes being a bit of a diva gets you more airtime. You know, and they always say like, oh, blame it on the edit. I think RuPaul actually has a song called Blame It on the Edit and you left that. Like you can be edited in any number of ways. This is like reality TV has never really been my bag. And people always ask me, oh, you’re gonna do The Voice. You can do that. And I’m like, no, it’s really I don’t think of singing as like a competitive art. Really. Not really my, my bag. But I do have many friends that have been on reality television. So yeah, I mean dancer. Stacy, I laugh about it. Actually, we often find that exactly how you think these people are going to be in real life they generally are. So like on TV, they get a pretty accurate portrayal, generally speaking, but then sometimes there’s surprises. Like for example, Brooklyn. Brooklyn is very sort of stoic. She’s a ballerina. Gorgeous, stunning. As a woman, we thought she would kind of be like too cool for school. And then she got in the studio. And she was just funny. And she made us laugh. And so I do think there’s a bit of, you know, like, every drag queen, you don’t become a drag queen if you don’t have a little bit of diva in you, you know, it’s like you don’t become a professional singer if you don’t have a little bit of a diva in you, yes. So I think there’s a kindred spirit there with Queens and female singers. And yeah, I mean, I think I think some of them can be divas, but by and large, most of the ones we’ve worked with have been pretty pretty. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  27:18

Yes. So when your songs have been picked up, that they’re being picked up by the franchise, or have you specifically written for them? Have you been asked to write for them?

Leah Canali  27:30

Yeah, so a lot of it is we write for Queens, either when they’ve come out of the franchise, or are going like, for example, we’re writing with the Brat Pack right now, which is a group that that was just on the last season of candidates or maybe two seasons back now. But they contacted us basically saying, like, we’ve come out of the franchise want, anybody Priyanka was the same with Brooklyn, we brought the song to Brooklyn, and then the show purchased the song, essentially, from us to us on the show. So yeah, I mean, we’re hopeful that eventually we’ll be asked to actually be like, writers. We’re not sure yet. But we’re trying to build more of a portfolio to keep working with the franchise to be honest. But yeah, yeah, I mean, like my my big thing I would really like to write for Rue at some point. And we’ll see.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:21

Yes. Well, you’re in the groove you’re in with the people that matter. And you are quite a talented songwriter. Obviously, you’ve had such success. In 2021, you co-wrote and produced and sang on the Tasty Pea, which debuted at number five on the iTunes pop charts. Congratulations.

Leah Canali  28:47

Oh, yeah. Very cool. It’s a cool day, when we saw that we were like, Oh, my God, bring out your number five on the charts. Like.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:54

That was amazing. Yeah. So where does your inspiration as a songwriter come from?

Leah Canali  28:59

Oh, good question. A lot of things like Susie, and I talk about this a lot. Sometimes, you know, in the middle of the night, we’ll just like bolt up, and it’ll be like, Oh, my God, I have an idea. And I need to get into a voice memo right now. Sometimes it’s real life experiences. Sometimes it’s just, I’ll hear a sound and I’m like, That would be cool in a song, or like, a line of poetry or somebody says something really iconic that I’m just like, oh, whoa, stop right there. That needs to be a line of something. Like yeah, a friend of mine years ago was going through like a hard time and I have a song about him called Wait Until Tomorrow. And it was literally spawned from he said to me after like going through a bit of a rough patch. He said, Girl, I was almost a memory. And I was like, Oh my God, that’s such a line. Right? And so yeah, like little things like that. Spark me for sure. In terms of the co-writing and stuff. Sometimes we go in with fully formed songs like we did that with Priyanka for a few of the songs we went in with songs and then she kind of shaped them lyrically into something that she wanted. Sometimes we go in and collaborate completely. So, you know, our people we’re writing with will come in with a subject matter. And then we create a song all together. Sometimes Stacy and I will like kind of stitch together two songs that we pieces of songs like that happened with there’s a song on Priyanka is album called Cake. And I think the pre-chorus was something that I had sung. And the verses was something that Stacy had sung. And when we were singing them back to back together, we were like, wait a minute, these are, this isn’t the same key. And this sounds really similar. So like, we actually think we could stitch the two pieces together to write a actual song, which is what we did. Yeah, chosen inspiration. I mean, I guess the answer is like, inspiration can hit you anywhere at any time. So yeah, I mean, the good thing about old cell phones is you can just, you know, record yourself anytime. You know, those middle of the night recordings, not so great. We go hard after the fact when when we go back and listen, but sometimes they are pretty good. And I always like have my notes on my iPhone are pretty hilarious, because a lot of times, they’ll just be fragments of things I find often that’s going to do a lot of yoga, in like the final poses of yoga. Lyrics will pop into my head, and I’m like, remember this, remember this? Remember this? Don’t leave the class.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:22

That’s not been very mindful.

Leah Canali  31:24

Yeah, I take you out of the class, but I’m like, I gotta get this down. Yeah, so I guess the answer is like, inspiration comes from a lot of different places.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:33

And what’s your strengthen as a songwriter? Are you more into the writing of the lyrics or composing the music? Where do you sit in most comfortably in that process?

Leah Canali  31:46

So I do primarily what’s called Top lining, which a lot of singers do actually see as a great top liner, a great example. So basically, usually that is like, we’ll have a track. And then I come up with lyrics and melody on top of the track. Sometimes they will also come up with melody as well, or like, actual pieces of the song. But we do have a producer that we work with who creates the actual, like, master physical tracks. But yeah, I mean, I primarily do lyrics and melody, actually, Stacy always says that. I’m the one that usually comes in with like, the clutch lyrics. So when, when we’re all kind of like sitting in a brainstorm, and it’s, there’s a little hamster wheel going, and we can’t get out of a rut. She’s like, you’re usually the one that like comes up with the word that like gets us out of the place. So I’m like, that’s a great compliment. Like, I didn’t think of that as a strength of mine. But it’s something that was pointed out to me. And I was like, oh, thanks, girl. Yeah, I mean, I guess I guess lyrics would be my, my sort of forte.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  32:43

So do you believe that as an artist, one it gives you greater credibility if you are a songwriter as well? And how important is it for an emerging artists to be able to write their own music? Do you think?

Leah Canali  32:59

That is a toughy? Because I think there is this sort of stigma that if you’re a singer, who doesn’t write their own music, you’re somehow lesser than singers. And I don’t actually agree with that. Because like, there’s incredible vocalists that don’t really write like, I don’t think Celine Dion is writing her music. Like I to be honest, like, I know Beyonce has a lot of like writing credits. I don’t think Beyonce is doing a lot of writing herself. But I don’t. What! I know.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  33:27

No. That is that is a moment in this podcast. But Beyonce.

Leah Canali  33:40

And I’m not going to say look, if you’re in the room, you got a credit. And I’m sure she is part of the process. But I do think she probably has a lot of people bringing her stuff and that again, there is literally nothing wrong with that. I think what she brings to a song is the Beyonce. Right? 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  33:55

Yeah, exactly. She Beyonce-fies it.

Leah Canali  33:59

Beyonce-fies. Yes. And so Celine, like Celine takes a song she’s unifies it, or like, I mean, Whitney Whitney wasn’t really a writer, right? Like, thanks. I’m like, one of the lists of all time, Aretha wasn’t really a writer, like we have these incredible vocalists that aren’t necessarily writers. And like some of them are like, I’m not a great example. There is Mariah Mariah writes all of her stuff. Nobody knows that she does, but she writes all of her stuff. Does that make her more legitimate? I don’t know. But I thought.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  34:29

Not at the moment.

Leah Canali  34:30

Not at the moment. But I do think it is really cool to be part of the process. And I think the upside of being involved in the writing of a song is often you will connect harder with the material generally speaking, if you have put something into it, but that being said, like there’s songs that I sang, that I connect with, on an extreme emotional level that I had nothing to do with writing, you know what I mean? Yeah, I think It is I think basic knowledge of music is important for anyone you know, like I, it’s funny on the cruises, I often meet older people who are getting into music at an older age. Like, I there was a lovely couple on the last cruise that I did that, you know, we chatted for a bit, and the woman was learning how to play piano. I think she was like, 67 year old years old, and she was learning how to play 67. And I’m like, oh, but it’s, I’ll never be good. And I’m like, it doesn’t matter. You’re doing it? And I think it’s yes. Yeah. Build that. Exactly. So I think if you’re going to be a performer, having knowledge of music be altered, the writing process is great. And definitely, you know, puts you in a different realm in terms of being an artist. But I also don’t think it’s 100% necessary. And I think that there are plenty of incredible vocalists that don’t write and it’s not, it doesn’t negatively impact them at all. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  35:55

They’re not frowned upon for not writing. Yes, No, exactly. Now you have also too some amazing performance credits. And, for example, you you’ve worked at the Boston Red Sox, you have worked at World Fashion Week. There’s so many, but the one that I want to point out to our listeners, is that you worked at, or should I say, performed at the official inaugural party of Barack Obama. Oh, yeah. How did that happen?

Leah Canali  36:32

It doesn’t an eight. Yeah, it was when he was first elected, which was very cool because there was hope in the arrogant, it was amazing. Yes. Yeah. So I always joke, you know, yes, I performed for the inauguration. No, I ended up performing. And people are like, hey, I Canali the inauguration happens in DC, just so you know. And I’m like, no, no, I know. But in the States, when there’s an inauguration, every major city has an official inaugural party. And I sang it, the one in Boston, so and there was a feed to Washington and the President came on, he said hello to us, watched our performance went about becoming the president of the United States. So I always say, you know, the first, the first Zoom call I ever did was with the President of the United States. That’s pretty cool. Start at the top. Right, you got to it’s got to start somewhere. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  37:19

So you can actually meet him. And he wasn’t physically in the room. But you’re still performed for him. 

Leah Canali  37:27

Yeah, which was very cool. And it’s funny I have come across, I brought him on as a big lover of music. So across a lot of performers in my life that have performed for Barack Obama, because he just likes to music they like, and obviously the White House does a lot of big concerts and stuff. Yeah, I it’s not uncommon in the industry to have performs for Barack Obama. So I count myself very lucky to be one of those people that got to do it. And just like for that particular inauguration, it was really cool, because it was so honorific and so important. And you know, I had voted for him and we were all very excited about him.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  38:06

Yes, yes. And also to you have to love Michelle Obama, too. I was listening to her the other day at being interviewed by Oprah. It wasn’t the big interview that she did. It was another interview. And I thought, this woman is just so down to earth. She she could be your next door neighbor, but she just has such an aura. Such a presence. Such a beauty about her inside and out. She’s remarkable.

Leah Canali  38:36

Yeah, yes. She’s a stunning human.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  38:40

Absolutely. And you’ve done so many incredible performances, you’ve been on some big stages. You’ve worked at Music Awards, you’ve worked at the World Ballroom Championships, like TV work that you’ve done. Do you work through an agent? Or are you a hustler?

Leah Canali  39:00

I mean, a little both, actually. So the where you met me like the crews work that I do. So guest entertaining is what I do. It’s so funny. To me. I feel like there’s a little bit of a thing in the industry when you say you work for purchase, where people are like, oh, for ships. And I’m like, no, no, no. You understand, like, yesterday, anything is possible. Like I have my show, I bring it on I do my show. They fly me back. It’s great. I go off for a couple of weeks, you know, I’m back. And honestly like I again, it’s sort of the thing where like, you shouldn’t shame anyone in the industry for doing anything right like.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  39:31

Hey, I’m working. What are you doing? 

Leah Canali  39:34

Really well, you’re saying like there’s nothing wrong with it at all. But yeah, so to do the cruise work, I do work through an agency based in Fort Lauderdale. My amazing agent fan gets me all my my cruise work, but the rest I have done Saans Agency so I’ve just been kind of a hustler. I worked for big entertainment company in Toronto for a long time. I helped build that company. I did all the music bookings to like I used to be responsible for booking, you know, hundreds of musicians in a month. And yeah, so I kind of learned the ins and outs there. And I’ve just kind of kept the ball rolling that way. So I guess the answer is both I do have representation for certain things. And then for other things, I don’t, you know, I hustle. And luckily, I’ve, I guess proven myself enough, especially in in Toronto and Canada, and, you know, even just went down in the States a bunch of gig during that people call me and yeah, be hopefully knock on wood that keeps going. But yeah, it’s very doable. Like, this is the thing, I think, people get a little overwhelmed and be in this industry thinking they have to do certain things, or they have to go certain roads, or, you know, you need this or you need that. And sure, there are certain, like, things, foundational things that help but you can make a career. It’s just, it just might not look like exactly what you thought it was going to look like. And you can work. And you can make a living, like I’ve been making a living as a vocalist for. So yes, very doable.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  41:05

And I did for 35 years, very doable. And you have to be a hustler. You have what we call booking agents. They’re your they’re not managing you exclusively, but they do help you be hired for certain gigs. But you do have to hustle. You can’t sit around waiting for people to knock at your door. That doesn’t happen. 

Leah Canali  41:28

No, you don’t. It doesn’t happen. And that that is one thing that I find sometimes with vocalists, that there’s there’s a waiting game where they’re like waiting around for somebody to kind of open door for them. And it’s like, no, no one’s gonna do it. And there’s pieces of pie for everybody. But yes, you do have to really advocate for yourself because nobody is gonna promote you. Exactly. If you want if you want to go for it. And I think I’m living proof that you definitely can make it for sure.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  42:00

Yes. And so do you feel that the industry is being kind to you over the years?

Leah Canali  42:06

Yes, and no, I mean, I think we, especially as women in the industry, we all have the stories of, you know, the abuse of power, the, you know, the I’m gonna make you a star, kid If I had a if I had a quarter of every time somebody told me that, you know, I by the industry. So there’s been really incredible things that have happened to me in this industry. And there have also been really terrible things I worked, you know, that entertainment company that I was talking about, I worked for 10 years for them, built the company, and the the owner was not not a nice guy. And there’s a lot of advantages take in. But it’s also, I think, and I’m learning this myself, setting boundaries is really important. Saying no, to certain, and also surrounding yourself with people you trust and people that are going to have your back. So I’ve definitely been in situations where people didn’t have my back and really, really hard and I think a lot of especially I mean, I hate to gender but especially women get bullied or category more often than not where we’re backed into corners that are not fair. They’re dangerous. Yes, when we get bullied 100% And like oftentimes, like, I’ll show up, like I’m a bandleader, I have a band. And, you know, it’s a bunch of boys usually, like sometimes I’ve got a couple girls that play with me too. But it’s primarily boys in the band, and then I’m the leader, but everybody always assumes that the guys are the band leaders. And they’re, they’re lovely human. So they’re just like, oh, no, that’s Leah, like she’s the one in charge of the dress, right? They’re like, but nobody original, like, nobody comes to me first thinking that I’m the one you know, I also DJ. And oftentimes, like people will come to the sound board and be like, I’m talking to the sound guy as if he is the DJ, on me, this girl in front of the decks with the headphones on me. So yeah, I mean, I think the industry has been both so wonderful to me. And also there’s been some definite lows where and situations that like for example, I kind of hit a low in 2019, early 2020, ironically waited for the kit, and I just couldn’t see my way out of it. And I was really questioning whether or not I would want to keep going the way it was going. And then bam, pandemic shut the door. And I had to reinvent. And I sat with myself and I figured out what I wanted to do. And that actually opened the door for a lot of songwriting as well because it was something we could still do during a pandemic. We were warming a lot. So there was a lot of Zoom songwriting sessions and a lot of Zoom recordings we could record you know, remotely. And so yeah, I hit like a really rock bottom-y time and then.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  44:50

Were you burnt out at that time?

Leah Canali  44:52

I was exhausted. I was gigging a lot. A lot had been thrown on my plate just organizationally as well. And So yeah, that was a time that the industry maybe wasn’t that well. But I also was not very well. So no, I can’t, I can’t really I can’t blame the industry totally for that time period. But yeah, I guess God’s honest answer is both. It’s been amazing and absolute terror.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  45:20

And talking about, you know, you hit that low. Did it make you look at? What am I doing to take care of myself? So what are the sorts of things that you do to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, that helps you sing in a healthy sustainable manner?

Leah Canali  45:41

Yeah, I mean, I am a person that I think a lot of people in this industry are that suffers pretty severely from anxiety.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  45:49

Yes, yes. And even the young, the young performers coming through? I don’t know if it’s in our DNA.

Leah Canali  45:58

Yeah, I don’t know what it is. But a really is a very common and it’s funny, because I feel like performers that I know often like, and I find this with myself to my anxiety has nothing to do with the performance. Like once I’m on stage, I’m usually absolutely fine. It’s all the lead up stuff. It’s all but the things around the performance. Its its day to day things that I’m anxious about it. Once the lights are on. I’m good to go. Yes. You know, and a lot they get a lot of performers are that way, which is so interesting. I would love to do a case study on that. It’s like, what is that? But yeah, so I do I am a an anxiety sufferer, I suffer from depression as well. Again, a lot of performers have that is so ugly. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  46:46

And, and I put my hand up to both. I own it. 

Leah Canali  46:50

Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, I mean, I think that that’s what it is. It’s just we need to be real about it. It’s real, very honest. It’s just it’s a thing that we deal with in this industry. And the industry has such extreme highs and lows actually, already predisposed to that sort of feeling. It’s going to be triggering, right? That’s just the way it is. But I wouldn’t I really wouldn’t trade it like my mom always says Leah, like your life is, is high and low. There’s really no middles. And you were never meant to have like a middle a middling life, you know. And so yeah, to sort of answer the original question, how do I hope you know I have in the past use anti-anxiety medicine, I’m not currently on any I have found that for me, exercise is a big thing I know. Yeah. I know that that’s not an answer for everybody. Yes. And if you need professional help, if you need medical assistance, like, absolutely do it, but I do think that physical activity does play a big role for me.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  47:52

It does, me too. It does me as soon as I start to become unhinged, it’s because I haven’t been moving my body as much as I should have been.

Leah Canali  48:04

Yeah, so I do a lot of yoga. I also really try especially when I’m on contracts, I really try and like give myself at least a day a week to just kind of, I guess exist is sort of the waves just just just sit and be and breathe. Yep. Read I often like on those days, I won’t even watch TV or do any like listen to music or anything. I’m just kind of like, let allowing my senses to kind of calm themselves. Well, that takes discipline. It does and mindfulness is really really hard like it’s funny doing yoga a lot like I like the sort of like the power classes I love a good guy he actually did power yoga earlier today. So I do like a good physical challenge. And so many of my teachers are like the people that love the physical challenge often the mental mindful side of yoga is actually what they should be focusing on more and I’m like dammit.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  49:04

Yes you got it. Yeah, yes, that sounds like me.

Leah Canali  49:08

And it’s pretty hard and so the I find like Yin classes are the more like base level classes way harder because my brain just goes and I can’t turn it off. So I do try and like sit in that. Yeah, and I mean basic stuff to like I’m really basic with sort of my stuff like I know a lot of singers have like crazy routines where they do like crazy vocalese and all this stuff but I my big thing is rest and hydration so water just water like people like oh do you do like teas or like all this stuff? 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  49:41

It’s a load of rubbish anyway.

Leah Canali  49:44

It’s rubbish. I mean, unless you’re super fleming maybe throw a thing a lemon in there, but like other than that, I just like water. Just drink lots of water, water and warm water if you need a little bit of whatever but just water. Yes, yeah. So that’s steaming to like, I’ll take a hot shower before I sing. But I’m not one of those singers either that like sits with a crazy steamer usually, like I just, I am pretty bare bones with stuff like in terms of things I ingest to stay healthy. You know, I try and moderate because I do have acid reflux, which a lot of singers have I try to moderate spicy things and sugary things and have caffeinated things around the times that I’m gonna sing. I don’t drink when I sing, that’s a big no for me. Yeah, I was the same. Yeah, I know some singers that can I just It blows my voice. So it’s a no for me. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  50:36

That’s what it does to me to not work with me. 

Leah Canali  50:41

Oh, and like, I always, like I because there’s been, obviously a few performances in my life where I’ve like, had a glass of wine and then sing, and I always think that I’m gonna sound good. And then I hear it back. And I’m like, wow, absolutely. That was not a good performance at all.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  50:54

And she and everything.

Leah Canali  50:56

I don’t know. So yeah, I mean, the big things that I do to take care of myself, I do I try to stay active. Try to get some sun. Drink a lot of water. You know? Well, I find on show days, I’ll try and eat like little bit throughout the day instead of big meals because big meals don’t work. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  51:07

Yes. You don’t feel comfortable? Yeah, yeah. And sleep. Oh, my gosh, that is a huge one. And hard when you travel. Yes. And entertainers aren’t good at sleep because we have late nights and and I remember I went through a year, I think, in my performance career, where I didn’t go to bed before 5 am for a whole year. And I was pretty messed up after that. I have to say, I just couldn’t get to bed. I couldn’t get to bed. I couldn’t get to sleep. So I would just stay up at home, and then go to bed at 5am. And I don’t know how long I slept or I don’t remember that part of my life is a blur. But where are you most happiest now?

Leah Canali  52:01

Oh, that’s. I mean, the sort of cliche answer might be on the stage, which is certainly true. I am very, very happy when I’m on a stage. I do. I mean, I know it sounds trite. But I love a beach. If you put me near put me here a body of water. And I’m a happy girl. I’m an ocean baby. Yes, yes, that is definitely a happy place for me. And I mean, I’m from Boston. So like, anytime I go home to Boston, I always feel very centered. There’s like an, you know, there’s a feeling in the air when I get there. My mom’s house is actually wired on the ocean. Like it’s very complex for me. But yeah, I mean, I am I’m certainly very happy on a stage big or small. Actually. It’s funny. Especially like the newer cruise ships like they huge stages.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  52:52

They’re amazing. Like the Celebrity Beyond you know people’s. Yeah, say that working on cruise ships. Is you know, you’re a karaoke singer in the shows that terrible. You have not been on a ship recently. If anyone thinks that you need to do yourself a favor and go on a cruise on one of the newest cruise ships and the shows a world class the entertainers.

Leah Canali  53:22

Yeah, my mom was blown. Like the your daughter’s in the cast. Like the dancers are incredible. The vocalist where I’m like, I would never be asked that. Kids are absolute. Like they’re hitting me crazy. Doing backhand springs and I’m like, I this is absolutely it’s not me. It’s flying from the sky. There’s all this crazy stuff. I mean, like literally because I did production singing back in the day. So for the listeners that might not know this. There’s production singing which is the the shows that are on board that are paid for by the cruise ship they all know shows. And then there’s the guests, entertainer shows, which is like my show that I bring on so those are two sort of separate things that cruises offer right? But the production shows you live on board for you know six to nine months or whatever my nine month contract I worked for celebrity actually and I worked for was every I worked for the Celebrity Mercury, which was a smaller boat ships, alright, but like and the shows were cute. They were like, they were fun doing that, but they’re nothing compared to what these kids are. I mean, it is. And that’s what these kids are doing. Like I was like, I’ve never seen anything like this. Yeah, this is absolute madness. Like yes. And I’m not even online like I’ve been to Vegas shows like these ships are insane. It’s, it’s wild. It’s very cool. Actually.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  54:35

It is it is and the kids, I call them kids, but they’re not kids. They’re they’re actually professionals. They’re adults, but because my child’s on there I call them kids. But I I mean, she is so grateful that she’s had the opportunity to dance at that level. You know, so long and they had decent money from dancing in a way that she was actually trained to do and not minimizing the training. Yeah, it was a dance. Yeah. Yes. But but the vocalists are incredible. So what do you feel has been your your greatest achievement?

Leah Canali  55:21

Ah. I mean, I was really proud of the report finale song for sure. That was a really big career highlight for me. And also, I mean, I think I’m really proud of the fact that I have been able to be working singer for 20 years. Yes, no, no, there’s, like, there’s, there’s not a lot of people in the world that can say that. So I’m pretty proud of the hustle. And I’m pretty proud of just putting in the work and being able to do that, you know, on my tech that says, musician, so I think that’s a very cool thing. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  55:57

That is a cool thing. Yes. So what are your plans moving into the future? Is there anything specific that you would like to achieve any goals that you’ve set for yourself in your career?

Leah Canali  56:09

I mean, the route the Ru goal is a big one for me, I would really like to finally write a song for Ru. That’s definitely like sort of a long term pipe dream. What that picture is drum word. It’s a goal a career goal that I would like to work on. And then yet keeping going I mean, I am really enjoying the guest entertainer thing right now I’m booked up celebrity actually booked me for pretty much all 2023 so amazing.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  56:34

With the same ship with Beyond or with some of the ships?

Leah Canali  56:37

All ships across the fleet. They have me doing a lot of LGBT charters, which I’m very excited about because that is.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  56:44

So cool. And abput time that they start putting the money where their mouth is too because they’ve been advocating and saying that they have policy around inclusivity and diversity and and thank you Celebrity.

Leah Canali  57:02

Yes, thank you Celebrity, you’re doing it, you’re actually doing that they’re actually doing it. And it’s it is very cool to see I’ve met a lot of incredible LGBTQ cruisers, actually. So a group that I met on the I was the Beyond, they’re actually coming now because I’m doing the Solstice in like two weeks and they booked the cruise specifically because they saw that I was going to be on it. So and that is very cool. Yeah, there’s some really cool groups that I’ve come across. So I think it’s it’s really, really important that they are showcasing artists that are LGBTQ friendly. LGBTQ artists themselves. Allies. I just think it’s very cool as they’re doing that. So yeah, I’m doing the I’m doing Pride on the Beyond again next year. So I did it this year with Captain Kate. It was amazing. Yeah. And her cat and her kitty cat bug. Meat bug?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  57:59

Can I say it’s not a very attractive looking.

Leah Canali  58:05

But I do like a hairless cat.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  58:08

The cat has such a bad attitude.

Leah Canali  58:11

She gave me kisses actually when I met her.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  58:13

I’m a cat person. No, she? No I did not get kisses. Anyway.

Leah Canali  58:20

She’s on the nose. I was like “Bug!” Maybe it was on a good day. I got her on a good day. Yeah. Bigger celebrity than all of us like bugs. Trivia gets more people in the audience of the damn production.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  58:35

Yeah, don’t even get me started on bugs.

Leah Canali  58:38

Yeah, it is a superstar.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  58:40

She is a superstar. If anyone wants to know what we’re talking about it’s bug the cat.

Leah Canali  58:48

Bug make it go check out at Bug Naked and Captain Kate. Captain Kate is amazing. She’s what the first and for a while the only female. She’s so cool. And again, that’s another very cool thing that celebrities doing. They’re being very female forward, which is really cool. Because you don’t see that in a lot of corporations. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  59:05

Yes. Yes. She is amazing. And like a lovely person. And I had the opportunity to meet her husband and some of her family and just gorgeous, just gorgeous humans. Sort of in yeah, in in wrapping up. What advice would you give to emerging artists? I know that you’ve offered some along this during this interview. Is there something else that you’d like to add to what you’ve already said? 

Leah Canali  59:33

Yeah, for sure. I mean, I guess also to kind of go back to what I was saying before like what I’m looking forward to doing going forward I think I’m transitioning into kind of a hybrid of I will be doing like both see and land gigs before I was doing primarily only land stuff. So I think next year is my trial run of doing more away gigs. I’ve been doing a lot of local stuff, but I do I got the travel bug in me again. So to be able to sing travel is a big thing for me right now, especially post pandemic. We were also.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:00:07

And might I add that when we met, were in the French Riviera.

Leah Canali  1:00:13

That’s right. We were.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:00:14

Why would you not want to be doing the gigs on the ships?

Leah Canali  1:00:20

I know I’m heading to the Caribbean on Monday? I had to Mexico next week, so or the week after? Yeah, pretty excited. What?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:00:31

It’s a tough life on those.

Leah Canali  1:00:32

Are so tough, right? Oh, God. I’m in the Mexican Riviera. Yeah, but yeah, I, I’m excited for to see where that all goes. And just to keep working to keep writing we do. I do have a project that we’re working on right now with that girl group. So that’ll be coming out. Actually, I think one of the songs is going to drop in November because one of the Queens is competing again, on one of the Drag Race franchises. So and then the the EP itself is probably going to drop and work on that over the holidays. But yeah, emerging artists, I would say, yeah, definitely diversify. So the more skills that you have, the more bookable you are, you know, like, it’s especially now where we can do production ourselves, we can do writing ourselves, we can do so much, I think it is important to at least have a basic knowledge of have a lot of skills, whether or not you’re like an amazing video editor, it’s one thing but to be able to put together something, I think is important. Also, just having a basic business knowledge, I think is important too, because I think a lot of performers kind of put that to the side as well. And I include myself in this, like, I’m getting better at it. But sort of the business organization of things, because we are we are our own businesses. So you have to be as a business as a product as. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:01:49

Thank you. Because. Honorable thing. What you just said, when I was in the midst of my performance career, I always looked at myself as a product. Yeah, yeah. And you have to make that you have to be able to market that product. You also you have to know your market. And what does your market want? What do they need? What things do I have to have? Do I have to have charts? Do I need to have backing tracks? What music are they wanting to hear? There are so many things that go go into that, but start as I am a product, right and take that humanism away and not take that side of the business personally.

Leah Canali  1:02:37

Yeah. And I mean, it’s hard. Like, obviously, we put so much of our soul into what we do as performers. It is a it is different than just like, oh, I invented this thing and I’m selling the thing. You know, you could kind of remove yourself from that. But I do think we’re all kind of entrepreneurs right? We’re all our way through this industry and be cognizant of yeah, who you are, what you’re selling what your product is what you are presenting to the world I think it’s really I also I would say to younger performers, be easy on yourself, I think we are very very hard on ourselves as well. Yes. Well yes. Or any in the world in general is going to be hard on us you don’t need to be so like really love that. Really try to be easy on yourself and this is something that I constantly have to learn because I embryo over some of them a Virgo for crying out loud. I’m.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:03:29

So my.

Leah Canali  1:03:31

Are you? When is your birthday? 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:03:33

On the 11th.

Leah Canali  1:03:34

September 22. So yeah, I’m like right on the edge. But yeah, so I just think actually, there’s so many performers that are Virgos like Beyonce is a Virgo, Michael Jackson was a Virgo like we’re all Virgos. Virgos and Leos that’s the entire industry.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:03:46

Really? I didn’t know that.

Leah Canali  1:03:49

Like Leo’s love attention. And Virgos are self-hating.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:03:53

We are so hard on ourselves. Our expectations are ridiculous. And then we tend to have that those expectations on other people too.

Leah Canali  1:04:03

That’s true. Well, yeah. And yeah, I think having a basic working knowledge of like, show production, how to do things, how to put together a show, super important like I you know, I have friends now who are later in their careers and are still just figuring out how to do that. And I think it is important to see the back end of things as well to be able to, yes, work both front and back. Right. Like I think it is important to know what the cogs are that are getting you on that stage. Who do you have to work with? And for vocalists, to I think a basic knowledge of like sound EQ.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:04:43

Oh, 100%.

Leah Canali  1:04:44

So like, I mean, I worked for in Boston years ago when I was like, a young kid or I stood up again, he actually used to make us check our mics and EQ, so we would have to listen and ask for the things that we wanted in our mic. So like, oh, I need more highs or I need lows or I need preverb, I get this or that. And I think that’s, that is an important thing, because you want to know this stuff so that you sound as good as you possibly can. You know, yes, yes, you can have amazing teams that are gonna make you sound amazing. But if you know what to ask for, it makes it a lot easier. And I find, especially as a female vocalists, they are going to assume that you don’t know this information.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:05:23


Leah Canali  1:05:25

When you do, yes, it really does put you in a different category. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:05:30

Yes. And can I tell you that even with emerging artists, there is still that gender bias, there is still misogyny, I see that within young musicians, male musicians coming through the ranks now 18 years old, and already treat their female counterparts as though they don’t know anything. Absolutely. I see it now.

Leah Canali  1:05:58

It’s pretty despicable.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:05:59

It’s despicable. Yes, it is. And I don’t know at that young age of 18. How these boys think like that already. Why are they thinking like that? Where’s that come from? Is it coming from the family? Is it coming from male teachers? I don’t know. But I don’t like it. And anyway, that’s a whole other rant on.

Leah Canali  1:06:20

That can be a whole podcast in and of itself.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:06:23

 Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I can. I can go on a real tangent there. But just in finishing up, I just want to thank you for your time. Oh, it’s been a real joy spending time with you. We met briefly on the ship. And we said we were going to make this happen. And we did. And we did. Maybe we didn’t do it on the French Riviera. But we’ve done it from our homes. Thank you to technology, and…

Leah Canali  1:06:50

Riviera, you know, give us a break. We had to go to the beach. Come on. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:06:54

Well, we were doing a lot of stuff. I I was doing a lot of stuff in the French Riviera. Actually. Yes, I went to visit some amazing destinations while I was there. So lucky. I felt so grateful. I was how stunning is that?

Leah Canali  1:07:13

It’s, I mean, like, everyone should go, if you have the ability go.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:07:21

You need to. Yes, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so grateful for our world as I was when I was in the French Riviera. But anyway, we’re going to share all your links in the show notes. So our listeners can go and listen to your music, they can find you. Maybe they may want to come and visit you on one of the cruise ships. Maybe you can talk them into coming and visiting you. Are you coming to Australia at any time?

Leah Canali  1:07:53

Not as of yet. I hope to at some point that will be amazing. I feel like a lot of times the kind of keep the guest entertainers in the regions of the world that they are around so. Okay. Well, it was actually weird that they not weird. It was very cool. And I’m very grateful that they flew me over to Europe and they don’t fly a lot of North American acts over to Europe and as a lot of the Brits that get flown over there just because I deeper and easier, right I get it. Yes. Yes, the pop down in the Caribbean. So easy. It’s like a three hour flight right for them. It’s an eight hour flight or whatever. So so I understand why that is. But yeah, I would love to sail. I did sail down to Australia on the Mercury. That was that was my route. We went back and forth between Australia and New Zealand. It was awesome.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:08:36

Well that’s cool. 

Leah Canali  1:08:38

Oh, you know if I’m down there for sure.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:08:40

Yes, please do and I’ll come visit. But it’s been such a joy. Leah, I wish you all the very best. I hope that RuPaul. Listen. Listen, she is your go to gal. Yeah. Do it RuPaul. Yes. That we should start a movement here.

Leah Canali  1:09:04

I’m down. I’m down. Let’s get it going.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:09:07

But no, thank you so much. Leah, thank you for your time. Thank you for sharing your life with us. And look forward to seeing you next time. Thank you. Okay, bye. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:09:23

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of A Voice and Beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self-care, personal growth and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow, so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag #AVoiceAndBeyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you’d like to help me, please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple Podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway. Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of A Voice and Beyond.

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