After reaching the semifinals of NBC’s ‘American Song Contest,’ the 17-year-old just released a new single and will headline an upcoming show at Franke Center for the Arts. Videos and more at Local Spins.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEOS, AUDIO OF ADA LEANN’S LATEST SINGLE
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When she was in sixth grade, Battle Creek’s Ada LeAnn wrote her first song –– a rather melancholy tune.
“It was sad,” conceded LeAnn, now 17 and a senior at Lakeview High School. “It was about getting bullied at school.”
Everything stemmed from a love of writing: “I just decided to pick up piano one day and try to put my poem to a song.”
From then on, LeAnn was hooked and her career has taken a whirlwind path ever since.
In 2019, she released her first single, “Hallelujah,” eventually followed by her first original song, “What Heaven’s Like.”
LeAnn has released a steady stream of music ever since.
And at the tender age of 16, LeAnn was chosen to represent the state of Michigan in NBC’s “American Song Contest,” often described as an American version of Eurovision. Her original song “Natalie,” a Taylor Swift-esque country tune, reached the semifinals and garnered national attention. (Scroll down for the “American Song Contest” video.)
“I started out being really country,” she said. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I just defaulted to that.”
Since then, LeAnn has grown as a songwriter and musician.
“I’ll spend hours dissecting songs and researching new music that’s coming out –– almost studying sonically how they sound,” she said. She told Local Spins that her typical songwriting process begins with getting “inspired by the sounds,” while the lyrics come later.
Now, LeAnn is ready to move in a whole new direction: dark pop. She named artists such as The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Tate McRae and Post Malone as major influences.
In that vein, LeAnn released a new single, “i’m not in the m00d!,” on Jan. 6 — a track she described as her “first switch into this sort of (dark pop) genre.”
VIDEO: Ada LeAnn, “i’m not in the mOOd!”
The song is “all about not taking –– for lack of a better term –– bullshit,” LeAnn said. “Don’t let them run back to you after they decided to leave you.”
EMBRACING HER NEW DIRECTION WHILE EYEING A MOVE TO NASHVILLE
LeAnn remains staunchly proud of her sonic evolution.
“I started in country, and it was like, ‘Oh, well, other people like it, so I should keep doing it,’” LeAnn said. “I’m really proud of how far I’ve come with putting out the type of content that I want to put out.”
But not everyone has embraced LeAnn’s musical transition.
“I’ve had some people say, ‘Your creative direction is totally skewed –– so different from what you did on the show. I think you’re gonna blend in with everybody else now,’” LeAnn said.
Luckily, she’s learned to not take it personally.
“I don’t take offense to it anymore,” LeAnn said. “When I was on the TV show and I did the more Taylor Swift-y song, I had so many people coming at me saying that it’s unoriginal, and it’s too Taylor Swift. I’ve honestly found that you’re not going to really win with everybody.
“Even on Instagram, I’ve received some [unkind] comments about the new song, and I’ve just been able to laugh about it.”
With this newfound confidence, LeAnn plans to continue writing music in the “darker pop lane.”
In February, she plans to begin writing with a record label in Nashville, a city where she’s spent time in the past and even performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage in October.
“I want to move to Nashville pretty much as soon as possible,” she said although she acknowledged that her parents are slightly more cautious about that.
LeAnn will also headline a major show Feb. 25 at the Franke Center for the Arts in Marshall, Mich., touted as her first big concert since appearing last year on “The American Song Contest.”
“It’s gonna be my first show that’s solely for me, which is awesome,” she said. “I’ve had little shows like that, but this is a big stage. I’m gonna be playing (the new single). I’m gonna be playing a lot of unreleased stuff. It’s gonna be a good night.”
Rae of Light will open the show at 7 p.m. Feb. 25. Tickets are $22-$27 and available online here.
In an ideal world, LeAnn said, her goal would be to become “a household name.”
“Ultimately, I’m gonna be happy wherever I land with this,” she said, “but I think it would be cool [to develop into] somebody like Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande.”
VIDEO: Ada LeAnn, “Natalie” (“American Song Contest” semifinal)
LISTEN: Ada LeAnn, “i’m not in the mOOd!”
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