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Interviews: Lelia Broussard

Lelia Broussard: Interview
April 2007
By: Lauren Jonik

For some people, destiny offers clarity early in life. For Lelia Broussard, the path that led her become a singer was crystal clear from day one, but becoming a songwriter and musician as well was an expected joy that she would only discover a little later in life. " I first knew I wanted to be a singer when I could speak. I walk down the street singing. I've done it since I was a little girl. I never thought I wanted to be a "musician," but then I picked up the guitar when I was around thirteen years old. I started taking lessons and it all went downhill or uphill from there, " Broussard explains with a grin.

photo of Leila Broussard copyright Lauren JonikOriginally born in south Lousiana, Lelia Broussard spent time in the Philadelphia area before finding her way to the Big Apple. Each of her hometowns, both native and adopted, has influenced her musical style and creative approach. "I was born in Louisiana and there is an amazing musical culture there. I think that that made me want to start music because I was surrounded by music all the time there. It was a constant thing. In Philly, I picked up the guitar and I found a great community of singer/songwriters. I got my start in Philly. And, now that I've moved to NYC, it's like this evolution of growing as a songwriter and artist. Living in NYC is very inspiring. There are so many people on different levels doing the same thing. I love it." Broussard decided to move to NYC after playing several gigs here, including her debut at the Bitter End. The decision to relocate was nudged along by the suggestion of a friend who reminded that often, the best time to leap is in the present moment.

Passionate about being both a songwriter and a live performer, Broussard says that "Songwriting is something I love and it's part of who I am, but it can be like pulling teeth sometimes. But, sometimes, it's also amazing." Now, embarking on co-writing more with songwriter Rob Fusari, Broussard is embracing collaboration. "For a long time, I wrote solely by myself and it was a really personal thing. Songwriting is like therapy in a way. It's a constant way of being aware of what is going on in your life and in your surroundings." The song Rise from her most recent album, which was just re-worked and remixed and will be re-released this Spring, is an example of personal experiences flooding into her work. "Everyone had an idea of who I should be as an artist-everybody and their cousin knows what's best for you and I was sick of it," Broussard begins. After showcasing for labels, the record company executives wanted to direct her sound, but Broussard realized that "I want to do what I want to do and I think I should. I think I should discover myself musically. Ultimately, you have to figure out what's best for you and you have to figure out that for yourself."

Lelia Broussard acknowledges that there are both advantages and disadvantages to being an independent artist in today's music scene. While you may not have the financial backing of a major label, you can be the captain of your own ship and only have yourself and your fans to answer to. Broussard believes that one can do both successfully. Valuing resources like, Broussard uses it as a tool to connect personally with the people who enjoy her music. " I don't know what I did before Myspace. I was so much harder. It's amazing for the fans and for the artist to promote yourself as an independent musician."

Remaining connected on many levels is a priority for Lelia Broussard. After Hurricane Katrina hit her home state, she decided to contribute in the way she knew best: through music. Broussard played several benefits shows to help those affected by the hurricane. "I just had to do something. It was really close to my heart and it was good to give back in any way that I possibly could," she said.

At the heart of it all, Lelia Broussard is living her dream on her own terms. "I'm very focused and I know what I want out of life. If I want something, I will find a way to do it. I can't not."

Interview originally appeared in IndieSoundsNY (Issue #22 April 2007). Photo by Lauren Jonik. Reprinted with permission.