Steve Leslie is a successful Nashville songwriter, with cuts by George Strait, Darius Rucker, Mark Chesnutt, and Darryl Worley, who has cut at least 10 of Leslie’s songs at last count. But perhaps as much as anything, Leslie is a man who loves to teach others how to write the songs they have inside them. With a degree in guitar/jazz studies, Leslie was an adjunct professor of jazz history in Florida before he came to Nashville some 20 years ago to see what would happen. What has happened has been things like publishing deals and cuts by some of country’s biggest acts. Leslie also coaches, teaches and mentors other writers both in person and via the Internet, helping them be the best they can be. He also just wrote several songs for a musical called Umbrella which is in the rehearsal stages. American Songwriter caught up with Leslie between students and writing appointments at his suburban Nashville home. You have a background in jazz, both in your degree and in your onetime vocational life as a college-level jazz history professor. How are you able to turn that off, to turn off the more complicated progressions and feel of a completely different genre and go for the simplicity of country. There's no conscious effort of any kind to "turn off" the conventions of one particular style of music when writing in another. The same responsibilities exist in any style I may find myself writing in: A striving towards clarity, form revealed by process, and a conversational approach to lyric writing. As far as simplicity goes, great songs in any genre sound "inevitable;" the right choices at the right times, not "simple" or... Sign In to Keep Reading
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