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Leah Turner proving she has what it takes

Nashville newcomer Leah Turner is bill for Brad Paisley’s current tour. | PHOTO BY JEREMY COWART

Nashville newcomer Leah Turner is on the bill for Brad Paisley’s current tour. | PHOTO BY JEREMY COWART

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Brad Paisley

With Leah Turner, Charlie Worsham, Randy Houser,
Dee Jay Silver

When: 7 p.m. May 31

Where: First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre,
19100 S. Ridgeland, Tinley Park

Tickets: $24.50-$59.50


Updated: June 30, 2014 12:34PM

A California blonde who once lived on a dirt road off a desert highway, rising country music artist Leah Turner seems determined to convince fans, critics and the city of Nashville of her country origins. “It was the land of rednecks in Flip Flops,” says Turner, who moved to Los Angeles as a teenager to ultimately be discovered by pop music’s dream team of Humberto Gatica and David Foster. “My dad was a team roper, and we had horses and chickens and goats all over the place at home. Being raised by a cowboy, country was always the foundation I stood on.”

With of the most distinctive voices to break through the genre in years, it really doesn’t matter what soil Turner planted her boots in as a kid. Her heart and the undeniable twang in her voice convinced her to book a one way ticket to Nashville in 2012. Since then, Turner has been working relentlessly to establish herself as one of country music’s brightest new prospects and a worthy addition to country music’s sometimes stagnant stable of female singers.

“I love how Reba [McEntire] has always maintained a class to her and went into acting. And I love how Martina [McBride] is so flawless. And I love that Miranda [Lambert] has both a feisty side and a soft side and a new boot line!,” says Turner, who comes into Chicago May 31 to open for Brad Paisley at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre’s first concert of the season. “I love learning a little something from all of them and using it as I go forward in my own career.”

Growing up listening to a mix of everyone from Whitney Houston to Bob Dylan to Garth Brooks, it was actually Brooks’ wife Trisha Yearwood that made the biggest musical impact on the young singer/songwriter.

“I was 9 years old when I went to see [Yearwood] in concert, and she hit one of those notes that brought her down to her knees,” recalls Turner. “I started crying. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to feel like that. I knew I wanted to make other people feel that.”

And besides her good looks and good-natured attitude, it’s Turner’s distinctive voice that seems to be making people take notice of the new girl in town.

“My voice sounds like I have been smoking cigarettes since I was 6 years old, but I can assure you I haven’t,” she laughs. “I have just always had that texture to my voice.”

With one “by the white of my knuckles” Top 40 single behind her in “Take the Keys,” her new single, “Pull Me Back” is beginning to make a strong push up the charts.

“So many of us are hugging the edge of the bed instead of hugging each other,” she says, her words falling like ready-made lyrics out of her mouth. “We all have our walls up in one way or another and all we really want is to be pulled back sometimes. When my fans hear me sing my songs, they can believe every word, because I have been through it.”

Currently out with a five-song, self-titled digital EP, Turner says she has a full record of 12 songs ready and waiting for release, though it may take a while.

“Things are moving so fast right now that we just might hold off a bit on the new record,” says Turner. “I’m lovin’ giving people a little taste of me through the EP and through this tour. With all these changes, you can change so much as an artist. I just might find myself writing a couple more songs to go on there. You just never know what might happen.”

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