By BRENNAN LEATHERS, News Writer
Although she’s just 16 years old, local singer Leigh Mullis is already
making headway in the professional music business: she’s performed a
host of regional concerts and has thousands of fans on YouTube, a
popular Internet video site.
Mullis, who will open for new country star Jason Aldean at Bainbridge’s
Fourth of July celebration, performs a wide range of rock and country
songs with her band, including several she wrote herself.
Her upcoming July 4th concert is the latest in a string of high-profile
performances: earlier this year, she performed the national anthem for
8,000 people at a monster truck rally, and her band played to a crowd
of about 1,000 people at a large Tallahassee, Fla., venue.
“wonderful” student at Bainbridge High School, according to Principal
Tommie Howell, Mullis is also garnering a reputation for her hard work
on the concert circuit. The Leigh Mullis Band also includes Leah Elkins
on bass, Steve Hacker on keyboards and guitar, Dwight Sherrod on guitar
and Les Lonsdale on drums. The band recently performed four sets across
five hours at a Carrabelle, Fla., venue and has played gigs around
Georgia, Alabama and North Florida since forming in January.
Mullis’ previous band, Due South, was well-known by Decatur County
club-goers. Her parents go to all of her concerts, and she’s guided by
Hacker, who serves a dual role as her mentor and music teacher in
addition to being her bandmate.
Mullis’ rich Southern accent
gives flavor to her songs, but it’s her musicianship that sets her in a
class of her own, according to Hacker. A singer since the age of 6,
Mullis met Hacker, an instructor at Bainbridge College, when she was 12
years old, after her parents bought her a guitar for Christmas and
signed her up for lessons. In addition to the guitar, she plays
keyboard on some songs and is learning to play the drums and mandolin,
among other instruments her family and friends have given her.
“I used to sing in church when I was younger, and started liking old
country music,” Mullis recalls. “I remember watching the movie ‘Coal
Miner’s Daughter’ when I was young, and afterwards, I knew I wanted to
sing and play the guitar.”
Leigh’s experience has allowed her
to be comfortable spreading out to other forms of musical performance.
In March, she won a first-place medal for Girls’ Solo at the Region 1
AAAA literary competition, and, along with fellow BHS students Abby
Killough and Kayla Godwin, won a first-place medal for Girl’s Trio.
On YouTube, Mullis’ videos—which feature up-close, acoustic
performances by herand her bandmates—are among the most viewed in the
site’s music category with almost 65,000 viewings. Her most-viewed
video, a performance of the Dixie Chicks’ song “Travelin’ Soldier,” has
been viewed more than 28,000 times by itself. Another YouTuber paid
tribute to Mullis by setting a video of himself expertly drawing her
portrait to her original song “Tears and Rain”—that video has more than
76,000 views and was at one time the most-viewed music video on the
site, according to Hacker.
Mullis said she is currently
working on her first music CD, which she hopes to have ready for
independent release this summer. In the meantime, she’ll be finishing
out the school year, playing more gigs and getting ready for the big
July 4th concert. In September, The Leigh Mullis Band will be among the
acts playing at the 2007 Bainbridge Bikefest, an annual event that
draws thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts.
“It’s exciting, it’s great exposure for our band,” Mullis said. “We plan on going wherever we can.”
Brennan Leathers can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at (229) 246-2827, Ext. 134.
©The Post-Searchlight 2007