"He's a terrific dad, a great neighbor, wonderful guitarist and teacher. He'd probably make a really good co-writer. Oh, wait. I forgot. He IS a really good co-writer! I should know, I've been there!"
-Janis Ian, Grammy Award winning artist and songwriter.
"Steve Leslie is one of my favorite people in the whole world. Writing songs with him is like an easy day of fishing on a quiet creek bank. We never rush the creative process and there are absolutely no boundaries.
He always brings out the best in me and that is what co-writing is all about. The man is a melody machine with a very sensitive understanding of the human spirit. These things make him an incredible songwriter.
His heart and his soul makes him my friend."
-Darryl Worley, multi-platinum country recording artist.
"Steve Leslie is not only a fine and successful songwriter, he is a wonderfully articulate teacher of song-writing, as well. Bravo!"
, Professor, Berklee College of Music, Boston, and bestselling author of "Writing Better Lyrics."
"With Steve, I finally found someone I can really talk to about what is working in my songs and what isn't. Since I started long-term mentoring with Steve, I've had countless 'A- ha!' moments with songs I'd all but given up on. Steve is encouraging, honest, experienced, and passionate..... the right mix!"
-Bob Paterno, Dallas, Texas
"Steve is part philosopher and part task-master! But mostly he's a good guy who cares about his students and wants to see them succeed. I feel that we are indebted to people like Steve, for they are the craftsmen who are willing to do the work that is necessary to preserve this genre, so we can all 'soak our bones' in this wonderful art of songwriting."
-Paul Hurtado, Tucson, Arizona
"Your 'Delaying Gratification and the Power of One' song- writing book is amazing!
We worked it into our latest cowrite and it made such a difference to our song.
I'm still getting great feedback from our members and visitors saying how this lesson has deepened their understanding of good songwriting. One visitor said they want to join NSAI because she enjoyed your lesson so much! Thanks, Steve!"
-Zelda Sheldon; NSAI Coordinator, Sydney, Australia
"Steve has been mentoring me via
for a couple of months now, and I have found our sessions to be highly constructive. I am becoming more educated about the craft of songwriting but, also through his guidance, improving my own creative process. I am a better songwriter today because of his mentoring."
-Ali Young-Sussman, Los Angeles, California
"Steve Leslie is amazing! What a great teacher, songwriter, and musician! My attendees want him back overwhelmingly, and he can be a part of the Texas Songwriters Cruise for as long as he wants to be."
-Lealand Peace; Director, Texas Songwriters Cruise
"I've been to several song-writing workshops, and I liked your focus on the craft of songwriting, with the idea that you honed in on a few important ideas and worked those. I believe that most of us that do this do it because we're driven to as artistic pursuit; craft being part of art. I noticed that some of the workshops I've been to spend way too much time on how to write songs that sell. I know that's what floats some folk's boat, but I truly believe that very few people will get the fame or $$ part of song-writing, and if all your time is spent in that effort it ain't going to be fun. Thanks!"
Mississippi Songwriters Festival
"You should know that you inspired me to study music theory and for the first time in my life I know what notes & chords I am playing on the piano. I'm also learning about chord progressions and getting back to "home". The musical side of my writing is definitely my weakness, but you convinced me it doesn't have to stay that way. I'm looking forward to expanding my abilities. Maybe now one day I'll send you a "gem" to critique.
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your knowledge with us."
Mississippi Songwriters Festival
"It was such a pleasure and a privilege to meet you last night and hear you play at Mosaic in Ocean Springs. Kindness and charm exude from your soul, and your songs are beautiful, funny, poignant, amazing. That your voice resembles James Taylor added a certain familiarity to the music. THANK YOU, Steve. Karl and I really enjoyed ourselves at your show. Randall was right...you are a phenomenal songwriter. Only love.."
-Mary Jane Gray, Blast at the Bay Songwriters Festival
"You inspired me so much at the
Mississippi Songwriters Festival
that I have written not only a chorus to Make That Guitar Cry and done a couple of rewrites to the song Roses and Wine, but have written several more songs in the process. I have even given some consideration to co-writing with someone! I am having so much fun. You are a great inspiration. Thank you so much."
-Scott Lashley, Gulf Shores, MS
"Since your critique of my husband's song, we've rearranged the den so that his equipment is more accessible and the room has a cozier feel to it. Hopefully that will encourage some rewriting and wood-shedding. He has given a lot of thought to your comments as well, and really liked them and agreed with them. I'm also looking into getting a webcam in hopes that he can
with you sometime soon!"
-Lorna Martins, Seattle, WA
"Hey I forgot to tell you how much we have been getting out of your class you gave on the cruise:'The Power of One'. It rocks! We've been getting lots of Publisher/A&R interest after we revamped a couple of songs (Leslie-ized them)! You are a great teacher!"
-Cheryl Ashton, Texas Songwriters Cruise'09
"Thanks Steve! Wow! I must say, I like your critique format much better than the many others I have utilized in the past. If you don't mind, I'll share this experience and your website at our NSAI Chapter meeting this Thursday night. I found that your format makes it very easy for the writer to look back at the song step by step and tackle each problem area, or give himself a pat on the back for "words sung right" . I'll certainly take some of your things into consideration, and have already changed a couple things."
-Matt Hoggatt, Gautier, MS
"This is Abigail's Dad...I like to take inventory of special people in our lives this time of year, trying to both slow down enough to see and feel what is most important, as well as let those I consider very special know it.....Not that I am that old but I figure what a waste not to share how I feel.....The
Blast on the Bay
Songwriter weekend was a wonderful event full of remarkable experiences for our 14 year old 'baby'....the most lasting memory in my mind will always be that this is where Abigail, Connie, and I met you. I know that you are a very busy professional but you made time to learn more about Abigail, and to share some thoughts, concerns, and life lessons with us....if that was all, it would have been special enough to warrant a very special place in our hearts....but the weekly hour songwriting growing into two hours and the doors you have opened with Abigail, your passion and love of music and teaching are remarkable gifts to Abigail, and therefore to Connie and me....I just wanted you to know how deeply our family appreciates your kindness, your observations concerning Abigail, and the interest is seeing how you could help her grow....Connie and I do not know where all this comes from and have no dreams of our own for Abigail beyond finding something in life that brings her joy and happiness. You are helping in such an important way, and from one Dad to another I just wanted to say, thank you."
-David Gibert, Nashville, TN
"Thank you for being a guiding light in my journey. I'm so thankful for a straight shooter like you."
-Jessica Amerson, Tucson, AZ
"It has almost been two years of mentoring and I could go on for who knows how long. I have enjoyed the sessions and it has helped so much to get your feedback and insight on the business end. My songs have improved a lot because of your mentoring. I want to thank you for the sincere caring and effort that you put into our sessions.
The time that I have spent with you has helped my writing evolve and I feel that I have most of the tools now that I
need to write at a level that may create some interest. Just this week a high profile song plugger in Nashville has
chosen to pitch one of my songs to Trace Adkins and a different song to Tracy Lawrence! It has been a pleasure, and I look forward to working with you more in the future.
Thank you my friend and mentor."
, Dallas, Texas
"Hiya Steve! I just wanted to get in touch and thank you again for giving of your time and talents for us at NSAI's Advanced Song Camp this weekend! I just loved your "Chords as Adjectives" class! It was incredibly informative and I took so much away from that class! Thanks also for playing your awesome song "Full Time Sinner" at the faculty concert."
"Still can't get over the powerful experience of seeing you at The Bluebird on May 29. It was a complete emotional overload for me, way beyond words to describe. I hope I can see you perform again. I have only been so overcome by a performance one other time in my life (when I was in graduate school 20yrs ago!) You're ability to project the power of your life experiences through live performance was almost too powerful for me to bear! Your command of your craft is breath-taking!"
-Shawn Donahoo, Decatur, Alabama
"Thank you Steve! Great job today, it was educational, inspirational, motivational, and entertaining for all! Thanks for taking precious time out of your weekend to be with us.
was crystal clear and there were only two times when the picture broke up a bit for 2 or 3 seconds..no problem. I think people were amazed at how clear and "real time" your lesson came through today. We had three new people at our meeting, so I think we will get some new members. Everyone loved your style and remarkable bedside manner. I hope we can do it again sometime. Thanks a million!"
-John Hemingway, NSAI Chapter, Chicago
"The London Music Club located in downtown Toronto recently hosted
Tin Pan North
, a music festival in its eleventh year. Headlining this group was Nashville-based songwriter Steve Leslie. Admittedly, I hadn't heard of Steve until I looked him up in anticipation of attending this show. Of course, part of the aim of this festival is to highlight songwriters who write songs for more well-known artists - something that Leslie has done with a great deal of success. Among those for whom Leslie has penned include Darius Rucker, Darryl Worley, George Strait, Ricky Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent, and Kenny Rogers. Since Leslie has made his career writing songs for other people, I thought that his approach to performing might be decidedly nonchalant. Much to my surprise, this couldn't be farther from the truth. His guitar playing was musically engaging and nearly technically flawless, so much that his stage mates were gushing about it between songs. Of all the performers I heard that evening, Leslie was the most captivating; his presence and voice closest to unique. On stage, he was the musician who most convincingly conveyed himself. Given the deeply personal aspect of songwriting, this is something most songwriters likely yearn to achieve. Through all of his overwhelming musical charisma, Leslie's songs shone through. While one could spend a long time analyzing his lyrics, use of musical form, and melodies to find out exactly why his songs work, one listen will tell you that they simply do. Musical preferences aside, I'm confident that anyone can appreciate the craft of Steve Leslie's music."
-Bryn Hughes teaches music theory at the University of Western Ontario.
"What leaf are you hiding under? Good lord you are a great writer. Write a book already! Not even sure how I got here but glad I did. Gorgeous website. You have created a stunning and rare alternative to the majority of 'songwriter resources' out here. Your blog alone is worthy of syndication."
"I can't recall where I first came across your name but I've been impressed with your career to say the least, and I'm so glad - honored - that you agreed to take a look at this book proposal."
-Norman Hirschy, Music Editor, Oxford University Press
"We really appreciate you taking the time on Saturday to give our NSAI group a lesson. Your enthusiasm and passion for songwriting and teaching really captured us and we could tell how much you love doing what your doing. Everyone enjoyed how you made them feel at home and all the valuable information you taught them (and at such a minimal cost). It is my hope we can do this again sometime."
-Adam Schmidt, NSAI Quad Cities Chapter Coordinator
"Thank you for sharing your valuable time, wisdom and encouragement at the 2012 Song Posium. Your prolific career is an inspiration for all of us.
Your presentation on "The Big Chorus" was the perfect applicable example. It provided me a much desired resource for communicating amongst melody driven co-writers.
I look very forward to our paths crossing again in the future."
"I spent most of 2011 having mentoring sessions with Steve via
and I've just got back my latest evaluation from the Nashville Songwriters Association.
Pre-Steve I'd get, " This has potential " or " This concept needs more work ". Post-Steve (on a song started during my sessions with Steve) I've gotten, 'You nailed it! Very cool! Nice work Cliff. Really well done on the rewrite Cliff. I am recognising you as a writer to Watch'. Have I made it yet? No, but I'm many steps closer. Thank you, Steve."
-Cliff Turner, Sydney, Australia
"I just wanted to write and say thank you so much for your class this year! I learned so much from this class and from you. By far it was my favorite class I have had at Belmont thus far. You offered some amazing incite for us all, and I grew way more then I was expecting to as a songwriter! I definitely want to keep in contact with you outside of the class. Thank you again for an amazing semester!"
-Scott Warner, Belmont University, Nashville, TN
-"I greatly enjoyed this class and thought that Professor Leslie did a wonderful job. I learned a lot in this class and had so much fun!"
-anonymous evaluation, Belmont University
"Professor Leslie is by far the most intelligent man I have ever met. His class was challenging and taught me things I never dreamed I could have learned. His advice and personal relationships with students helped my entire class to become better songwriters. My only regret is that I did not get to spend more time in a class with him."
-anonymous evaluation, Belmont University
"Professor Leslie was by far my favorite professor or teacher that I have ever had. He teaches with such enthusiasm and is so passionate about songwriting and teaching others how to better their writing. He is extremely approachable and easy to talk to or ask questions. He cares about each and every student as an individual and took interest in each and every one of our songs and our particular genres and ways of writing. He expanded my knowledge of songwriting and gave me tools that I will continue to implement the remainder of my life. Any student would be so lucky to have Steve Leslie as a teacher. I am extremely saddened that I will no longer be in his class."
-anonymous evaluation, Belmont University
"Just wanted to say thanks for coming in to co-write in front of our Berklee class. It's encouraging to see that writing together can be such a fun endeavor. I really liked the song that you all started. I was just singing it in my head, and the drum beat from Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" seemed to go well with it. That drum pattern may be something you could consider.Thanks again. You all gave me a great impression of Nashville."
-Erich Riepen, Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA
"Thanks for taking the time to come visit us Berklee kids! The song you wrote sounds amazing! I can't wait to hear the final product. I thought your co-write was one of the best and most informative clinics of the trip. I am a songwriter, and I am planning on moving to Nashville so it was especially interesting to me. It was so cool to see that process unfold before our eyes. Thanks again for your time!"
-Will Larson, Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA
"I wanted to thank you both! There is no cooler experience I could have hoped for than sitting in on a professional co-write. Co-writing still makes me apprehensive, but you two did much to relieve that. Thank you so much exposing your process; it had a real impact on me. I was sitting in the corner with a friend of mine, and the energy in the room just got us inspired, and we started working on one of our own right there. Did you wind up finishing the song? I liked where it was going!"
-Alden Witt, Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA
"Hi Steve, I was at NSAI Song Camp this year where you truly opened my eyes, heart and mind about the craft of song writing. You have a gift of teaching and I hope NSAI brings you back again. I attempted to tell you this on the last day but kinda got choked up and the words were not there. I must admit I was a bit surprised how emotional the whole experience made me. I do appreciate how graciously you handled the situation. I suppose you have seen old men crying and blubbering around you all the time... That's the cross you must bare..lol Thank you for being a part of song camp. Thank you for showing as much as you could in the little time you had about your views on the craft of song writing. I am looking forward to hearing your song about that river right there on the radio. I can't remember all the words today but I can close my eyes and picture where it flowed from up in Hazard as it carried Lucious with his sack of mail order seeds to start a new life. well u know the rest.. I do want a copy of that song when it gets cut.
Tipping my hat!"
"A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere, and with whom I may think aloud."