Shayne Leighton has been in love with music since the early age of 5. Not only is she an empowering singer, but she is also a bestselling author. Surprisingly, this talented redhead’s singing career did not take off quickly; however, she knew she had to do something about it, something unique. That’s why she released a cover of Pat Benatar’s hit single “Invincible,” and since then, her music career has taken off. Inspired by her unwillingness to give up and her passion for music, we were interested in learning more about the cover that pushed her career in the right direction and the new adventures she has come across in her Rock It Like A Redhead tour.
Cliché: When did you first get involved with music? Did you always want to be a singer?
Shayne Leighton: I’ve been singing since I was very young, but I didn’t find my true voice until pretty recently. For the duration of middle school and high school, I thought all I wanted to do was play Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway. I graduated from the Dreyfoos School of the Arts only to realize later how out-of-love with musical theater I became. After some soul-searching and experimenting with different genres of music, I realized I required some guidance. That’s when my initial conversation with Bobby Collins (CEO of Spectra Music Group) happened. He’d been listening to some of my previous music projects and we got to talking about the kind of stuff I’d been listening to growing up. I expressed my love for Stevie Nicks, and Bobby said my style also reminded him of Pat Benatar and Heart. I think that was the catalyst moment when I began hitting the rock ‘n’ roll pavement hard in a new direction I was really passionate about. My uncle was signed to RCA records some years ago, and he was a rock artist. In fact, he’s still an old rock hippie, and he’s so proud to see me following in those footsteps. I’ve always known I wanted to sing; I just didn’t know what I wanted to sing… until now!
What made you want to cover Pat Benatar’s hit single “Invincible”? Does it have a special meaning to you?
We knew that we definitely wanted to start things off with a cover, something that was familiar, but not too iconic. There are just certain classic songs you never touch. I knew the sound I was going for, which was a nod to ‘80s classic rock, but with a touch of something exciting and fresh. I started listening to a bunch of hits from the ‘80s. I’m a huge advocate against bullying and I am always trying to promote a message of self-acceptance and empowerment, so when I came across “Invincible,” it was just perfect. It’s a great tune with a driving beat and super empowering lyrics. I rehearsed it a few times, along with some other choices, but out of all of them, “Invincible” was the only track that just stuck out to me. It worked and the more I sang it, the more I became impassioned by it. I’m happy to say that, so far, listeners seem to feel the same way about it!
It looks like you had a ton of fun shooting the music video for it! Could you tell us a little about the making of it?
“Invincible” was a huge new start for me in my music career and so is the Rock It Like A Redhead tour I’m currently working on for the duration of 2015. After some deliberation on a visual for the single, we decided it would be fun to put together something of a documentary style video. My husband and I brought a camera along with us on our first adventure on tour, which was the stop in Austin, TX. We shot everything from walking around town to rehearsal to the performance. The video even includes footage from the production process at Power Station Studios, which I think is really cool. The hook is “we will be invincible,” and that’s how I feel. After coming back from some hard blows in my career, that’s exactly what this song means to me. The tour and the EP release is me finding out who I am as an artist and rebuilding from there, so that’s why I decided to film my beginnings and release it as a music video. It also features a lot of the listeners, who I hope the song inspires. It’s just all-encompassing and very personal.
Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
My songs and song choices are fueled by a lot of things. I have to mention Mark Vogel, as well as Dan and Mike George, who are brilliant songwriters and a huge part of this EP. I’d have to say that “Wolf at My Door” is one that really stands out in particular because it heavily relates to my fantasy book series, Of Light and Darkness. But songs like “This Time” and “Foolin’” also stand out because they carry the empowering message that I want listeners to walk away with.
It seems like you’ve traveled a lot while you were on tour! Which has been your favorite place to visit so far?
I’m still currently on tour, and we’ve only made two of the five tour stops so far. The first stop was in Austin, TX. It was my first time in Austin and my first time in Texas, period. I fell in love. Austin is wonderfully weird and right up my alley, so I had a great time exploring. The second stop was Nashville, which I’d visited once before for an author conference. Nashville is great, too. It is the music city, after all, and I love how laid back it is. As far as the event and the audience, I’d have to say that Nashville was my favorite performance thus far, but I favor Austin for the city itself. Next, we are headed to Seattle. It will be my first time in the Northwest, so I’m thrilled; I love mountains and coffee. Then we are going to Chicago, and finally, New York. I’ll be sad when it’s over, but there is always the next adventure!
If you could collaborate with any artist or group, who would it be?
Of course, I am inclined to choose one of my favorites for this question. Pat Benatar, Heart, or Stevie Nicks would always be wonderful, not to mention the biggest honor ever! Even Annie Lennox comes to mind. I also think it would be amazing to collaborate with a more modern sister in rock, too, like Lzzy Hale or Juliet Simms. Or perhaps something very unexpected would be fun. I really like Gotye and I love Adam Lambert, so either of those two would be super cool!
What’s next for you?
I think after this tour wraps, I’ll be focusing on producing more music, the next tour, and more ways to connect with listeners. I hope to perform for the 2016 Van’s Warped Tour. I also write vampire novels (Of Light and Darkness series), and I’m currently working on the fourth book out of a series of seven. I’m always storytelling, so in whichever way, that is always what is next!
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Shayne Leighton Interview: Photographs of Shayne by Bachi Frost