Musician Ciara Leah is ferocious in new EP Love Money

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Ciara Leah, Ariana grande and Selena Gomez

Image credit: WARREN MAY

Songstress Ciara Leah shared her debut live studio album Love Money. The 5 track EP is superbly modern and expressive, opening with the title track ‘Love Money’ and ending with the song ‘Love wins’. Co-produced alongside Juno-nominated producers Chris Rouse and Thomas McKay, Love Money is a declaration of faith, a celebration of love, and a social critique, all at once. A fun, smooth R&B soundscape, the album features emotional yet consummate soul vocals and harmonies from Ciara Leah, as well as many jazz solos on keys. Continue reading for the full interview below:

Stream/ download:  Love Money

How has “Love Money” changed your life?

“Love Money” has been an important part of my personal journey. I have grown so much, emotionally, spiritually, and musically, since I first wrote it. It’s empowering to produce music that showcases the depth of your artistry and carries a strong message. I believe this music is going to travel far with me.

What would you like listeners to take away from the song?

“Love Money” just feels good and that’s the main takeaway. It’s all about love, freedom, and empowerment. As a single mother following her dreams and taking care of business, I have had to learn some hard lessons that ultimately taught me about the power of transmutation, out of which my name was born: Ciara Leah literally means “dark light” in Gaelic; I always try to find the light in the darkness through my music. As a woman in the music industry, especially, it’s easy to get lost, misdirected, or taken advantage of. In keeping with the spirit of the song “Roxanne” by the Police, “Love Money” is a reminder that you don’t ever have to sell your soul as long as you move freely in ‘agape love’, the highest form of love that exists with no conditions or judgments.

Tell us about your highlights for the year

2023 is already bringing a lot of “firsts”, with the release of my debut FACTOR-funded studio album: Spotify editorial playlist placements, a lyric video crossing 10k views, a live interview on a talk show, press releases, and a big artist showcase. Everything feels new and exciting and there are lots to come, including music videos and touring.

If you could paint a picture of your sound, what would it look like?

A big, warm, technicolour blanket for the soul, with flowing colours of textured paint, mixed media, and many layers… stimulating and soothing, at the same time.

What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?

There are far too many to narrow down but Stevie Wonder Innervisions, Robert Glasper In My Element, Donny Hathaway Extension of a Man, Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon, and Nirvana Nevermind are five albums that created a sort of paradigm shift for me, at different points of my personal and musical development. As far as artists go: James Brown has all of the funk, soul, and attitude I vibe with most;  Frederic Chopin’s music is colourful, exciting, challenging, and emotional; Thelonius Monk reminds me to be myself and just “play”, in the truest sense; Rachelle Ferrell makes me a better artist every time I listen to her because of her strong connection, presence, musical ideas, and genuine expression; and Stevie Wonder is a genius songwriter, producer, musician, and philosopher from whom I have learned a lot. The list is, honestly, so long and this is a limited sample but it’s a good starting point.

What other artists do you really like at the moment and why?

I love what Brandon Coleman is creating. His musical taste, skill, and feel are unparalleled and he brings his listeners on a journey through space and time, drawing references from the greats and carrying new ideas forward; listening to Brandon play is a master class, in itself. Hiatus Kaiyote is an aspirational band. They’re pushing musical boundaries and inspiring a new sound in the next generation of musicians coming up; Nai Palm sings and plays her butt off and that excites me, as a woman in the industry. Derrick Hodge’s music heals. Not only is he one of the most proficient, exciting, and tasteful musicians in the world but you can feel the beauty and honesty of his soul; Derrick’s music is the ‘warm hug’ we all need. I’ve also been listening to Vince Guaraldi’s compositions, lately, and feeling nostalgic…

How did you get to your first gig?

I walked there! Literally and figuratively! When I came back to Toronto after having my first two children, I moved into a neighbourhood that was right in the middle of the music scene and built connections through music events and open mics. My friends invited me to be part of a showcase of local artists, including Grammy-nominated artist JP Saxe, and that’s how I walked into my very first show at the legendary El Mocambo in Toronto.

Tell us one interesting fact about yourself that no-one would expect.  

I have three children and five peer-reviewed scientific publications; I successfully defended my Masters degree in Science while pregnant and I also produced and engineered this project while pregnant and into my baby’s first year of life.

What do you consider your biggest achievement so far?

In my life, my biggest achievement so far is my three beautiful children. Professionally, releasing an album has been a dream of mine my whole life. Engineering, performing, producing, and mixing this project (with a new baby) is easily the most challenging endeavour I have ever undertaken in my life and I count this release as my greatest success so far. I really pushed myself and I am proud of what my team and I have created.

Famous last words?

Follow your dreams; let faith and love lead the way. When you love yourself, first, the whole world wins.

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