A star rising from Texas

Country singer Brennen Leigh steps from behind a repertoire of covers to reveal her creative songwriting abilities.

"I would love to sing classic country and bluegrass till I die, but you can only repeat somebody else's ideas so many times," says the 27-year-old songbird.

On tour from the Lone Star State, Leigh will stop in Southern Oregon, where she is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Friday, May 27, at Applegate River Lodge, 15100 Highway 238, Applegate; and at 9 p.m. Saturday, May 28, at Caldera Tap House, 31 Water St., Ashland. She will be accompanied by fellow Austin, Texas-based vocalist and guitarist Noel McKay.

Originally from Minnesota, Leigh moved to Texas in 2002 to pursue music in the area's flourishing country music scene. For several years, she played primarily as a duo with her brother Seth Hulbert, but she now performs with a band for most home-based gigs.

In 2005, she was voted Texas Music Awards' Best Female Vocalist. She also placed in the top 20 — out of 8,000 contestants — in the USA Network show "Nashville Star." Leigh says the key to her vocal success is simply working within her natural capabilities.

"I try to sing like I talk," she says. "I try not to embellish anything or do anything that's not natural."

Leigh is currently touring behind her most recent and first all-original album, "The Box," released in 2010.

"It's a country, heartbreak kinda record," she says.

The album, which fits pretty squarely in the country-bluegrass genre, showcases Leigh's songwriting abilities in a handful of country ballads, "back-slidin' " songs and love and heartbreak songs, such as "What'll I Do," "You Made a Fool Out of Me" and the title track, "The Box."

"It ('The Box') is about having a box of stuff you can't get rid of from your former lover," explains Leigh.

Leigh says all those years covering country and bluegrass legends such as Hank Williams, The Louvin Brothers, Bill Monroe and Jim Lauderdale taught her how to make a good song.

"I've really come to enjoy being a songwriter," she says.

"It's really satisfying when I set out to write something, and I succeed. It's satisfying when you can say what you want to say in three minutes or less."

Cover to the Applegate show is $10, and the Caldera cover is $5. For more information, call 541-552-1039 or see www.brennenleigh.net.

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