The past 18 months have taken singer/songwriter Leslie Cours Mather on an amazing ride, and it’s one she says she will never forget. “My first single was ‘Countrified’ – which went to the Top 40 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout™ Chart. For a debut single and a newbie who hasn’t had experience with the formal music industry, I was very excited about that. Then, we had ‘Hell Hath No Fury,’ which I started performing on a radio tour.”
The high-octane “That Was The Whiskey” followed, and all three tracks made their mark. Add to that a much-buzzed-about performance at the CMA Music Festival, three videos, plus a Christmas single, and Leslie has established herself as a newcomer of extraordinary talent.
The songstress is now promoting her newest single, the patriotic rallying cry for unity that is “We Are America.” Leslie explains, “With the increasing violence, terrorism, political unrest and division in our country, it seems more important than ever to remember who we are,” Leslie notes. “This is a great country, and I hope people will remember our amazing foundation and the sacrifice it took to become a nation in the first place.”
While her first three singles were targeted specifically at the Country market, “We Are America” was released to radio stations of virtually every genre. For Leslie, it is at heart a Country song, and it is Country that fuels her soul. “The openness, the inherent truth of the lyrics – all that spells ‘Country’ to me,” she adds.
“I am a diehard fan of Country Music, it’s in my roots. My dad was born and raised in Texas, and my mom’s family comes from the dairy farms of Wisconsin. Country radio is an amazing and unique component of that world. For me, it was like being accepted into the family, and it’s made for an amazing experience.”
Mather related that one of the aspects of the radio visits she enjoyed the most was seeing how diverse and varied the United States is – with great country music fans everywhere. Then again, it’s no wonder that the singer loves to travel. She was constantly on the move as a youngster. She was born in Singapore, but with her father serving his country as a member of the United States Army, her story includes a few other stops along the way – Indonesia, Virginia, Florida, New Jersey, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and California are all places that she has called home.
The roads that her career have taken her down helped to serve as an education. “I have learned about time management, which has been a big thing. Also, I think I’ve learned to be myself no matter what. Living in a big city and doing Country music, people would ask me why I didn’t say ‘Y’all,’ and I thought I better do that; I better be who they thought I should be. But, I couldn’t. I’ve never been that person. I just need to be myself. If I’m welcomed, I am, and if I’m not, I’m not. I think being true to one’s self is really important.”
Being true to herself is something that came naturally – and early for the singer. “I’ve always been musical, and my music always went with me. When I was eight, I begged for music lessons. We had a piano, and I had been trying to write songs on it, even though I didn’t know how to play. My parents hired a teacher for me, and I never wanted to stop practicing, and songwriting.”
Leslie further developed her musical talents by attending Vanderbilt University in Music City. During her time in Tennessee, she also enrolled in acting school, met the man who would become her husband, and went to work for Bob Farnsworth at Hummingbird Productions. She eventually wound up settling in the Los Angeles area, continuing to work on her craft as an artist.
However, the industry can take a toll, and Leslie began to have second thoughts about a career in entertainment. “I had pretty much given up,” she confesses. “My expectation level dropped.” But, then – as has been the case with her life since day one – there was another twist in the road. An unrelated business meeting between her father and a colleague led to a series of phone calls, which led to a meeting with iconic record producer Denny Diante. Famous for his work with legends such as B.B. King, Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, he immediately tapped into his Nashville connections to bring in a “Wrecking Crew” of studio players to Blackbird Studios. As the final product proves, Leslie rose to the occasion, as she and Diante hit the studio with a vengeance.
One of the most exciting aspects of the session was that it allowed Mather to push the parameters of her comfort zone. For instance: “That Was The Whiskey” came in at the very end of her song selection process, but once she heard it – she wanted it. “It’s about this good Christian girl who goes out and parties one night, and finds out she likes it. I got to play a character for three or four minutes, and for me that’s fun!”
Emotion has played a huge role in Mather’s life over the years, and she continues to face her challenges today. Her beloved father passed away earlier this year and, previously, her daughter waged a successful battle against leukemia. The singer herself is in the midst of fighting kidney disease. For Leslie, being open is the only way to go. “At this point, we’re heading toward a transplant, and just like with my daughter’s leukemia, you can’t control what life hands you, but you can control how you handle it. I’m not the type of person to mope around, and feel sorry for myself. I just feel really grateful for what I have. I have an amazing family, amazing friends, and an incredible team behind my career. It’s a bump in the road to me, and I’m choosing to stay positive and not give up.”
She has momentum on her side. “I can’t believe how blessed I feel. Every person, the musicians, the engineers, cutting at Blackbird, all the publicists and promoters – not only are they good at what they do, but their hearts are in it. It’s something I will never forget, especially coming in new and having the best of the best. Denny said, ‘We have to do it right the first time because you can only have one chance to make a first impression.’ We are all so proud of this work. It’s representative of who I am musically and personally. The future is bright, but the present is also bright for me. I’m enjoying the moment. I think for me, that is the key. I don’t want to miss anything.”