"Leigh is blessed with one of those rich voices that would still be captivating if she sang insurance quotes."
"Intuitive perceptive compositions and compelling performance!"
"She's not one to shy away from a challenge in both her lyrics and her music, and it makes for a daringly memorable batch of songs."
Greensboro, North Carolina native Kristen Leigh’s music blurs the lines between genres and styles, drawing from a diverse range of influences including bluegrass, classical music, the blues, and alternative rock to produce folk-based compositions with orchestral arrangements that are both playful and moving.
Weaving together her original alt-folk compositions with creative and heartfelt covers of traditional folk songs and old-time tunes that span generations, Kristen’s live sets are uniquely captivating and resonate with listeners of all ages. The raw passion with which she sings is assuaged by a down-to-earth, interactive stage presence that seeks to build relationships with audiences, while her emotionally vulnerable lyrics explore themes of redemption, hope, and courage.
A multi-instrumentalist, Kristen switches effortlessly between acoustic guitar, piano, ukelele, banjo, and mandolin. At times she will sing an a cappella ballad, or accompany her vocals with a shruti box to provide the haunting drone for a Gaelic chant or an old primitive Baptist hymn. Kristen is sometimes joined during live shows by a rotating ensemble of instrumentalists who help bring her orchestral arrangements to life by accompanying her on violins, cello, accordion, woodwinds, brass, harmonica, and more.
Leigh has also independently recorded, produced, and released five albums on which she has played most of the instruments. Having developed a digital/analog process of capturing sound that is all her own, she has engineered her music on a non-existent budget by utilizing the very best in makeshift bricolage.
Kristen's music career has taken her all over the U.S. as well as Europe and Southeast Asia. In 2010, Kristen moved to New York City to earn a master's degree in Theology and the Arts from Columbia University's Union Theological Seminary, where she focused on the history of music in Western culture, and looked at music's role in shaping meaning in both religious and secular communities. In 2013, she received a Henry Luce Foundation fellowship to spend the summer in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, researching Javanese gamelan music in relation to ancient and modern religion and culture. Kristen also holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is a scholar of philosophy of art, comparative religion, popular culture, biblical interpretation, and ritual studies. She has published articles on theology and film, music in antiquity, artistic vocation, and ecumenical theology.
Kristen also has extensive experience with liturgical/ritual music in a variety of religious and interreligious contexts. She has composed chants and liturgical music settings in a variety of styles, having been trained as a song leader in a number of oral singing traditions including chant singing from the Taizé community in France, congregational songs from the Iona community in Scotland, African American spirituals, Songs of Presence, Music That Makes Community, and a variety of folk-singing traditions from throughout the US and world. In addition to performing and leading music, Kristen also works as a music consultant, assisting worship communities in identifying and/or expanding their musical goals. She offers retreats, workshops, and trainings on the spiritual practice of singing, improvisational music-making, the Enneagram, Celtic art and illuminated manuscripts, labyrinths and mazes, eco-theology, and other topics related to creativity, spirituality, art, and music.
Kristen is also a freelance graphic designer, a spiritual director, and a regular blogger. She enjoys practicing traditional longbow archery in her spare time.