You know what my favorite part about a concert for a headliner is? It’s probably not what you’d think. It’s the opening act(s) where I get to discover new music that is about to make it big. I feel like by discovering them before they become mainstream, I am part of some elusive club. Something about knowing an artist and their music before the whole world gets to know it makes you feel a stronger connection to their music. So when I get the chance to interview an up and coming powerhouse, I get all the same feels.
Recently I sat down with country star, Leslie Cours Mather. The self-proclaimed introvert, with a voice sure to captivate those lucky enough to hear it.
At first look, you can’t help but stare. She’s stunning and immediately comes across with such a strong confidence in her. With that kind of boldness and piercing blue eyes, I feel like I am talking to Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter.
I have already done my homework on Mrs. Mather. I know her story very well. It’s an incredibly inspiring story on all accounts. The mom of three became incredibly ill in 2016, eventually going on dialysis and undergoing a risky kidney transplant surgery. Meanwhile, her daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, and her father died in the same year. While Leslie was at home recovering she dove herself into work and songwriting and created 5 new albums throughout the time of a three-year span.
I decided to dive right in and ask her the one question I wanted to know the most.
Leslie, I have to tell you I kept listening over and over to your song, “I’m a Survivor” and there is this one line, “I never knew I was a fighter”. It really hit me hard. I know each one of us women have had that moment in our lives where we went through something that seemed impossible or bigger than us, and thought that we didn’t have the ability to take it all on. But in those exact moments, we find the strength to do it, and we find that we are fighters. I was feeling like this song was a culmination of all that you went through. Can you walk me through that process of writing it and how you came to that moment where you knew you were a fighter?
“You’re so right! In fact, when I wrote the song, I wasn’t really thinking about myself. It wasn’t until we were in the studio that my producer looked at the players and said ‘That song is her story”. I realized it really was. I thought I had written it for the other survivors out there. I was thinking about all the strong women in my life, including my own daughter, who has overcome extremely difficult times. So many of us are fighters and don’t even realize it. When my daughter was going through treatment as a little 5 year old, her strength inspired me. She would interrupt the nurses who were trying to figure out the most comfortable way to poke and prod her, and she say, ‘Just do it!’ The line, ‘I never knew I was a fighter’ was such truth for me. Lots of people told me I was a fighter. I was an inspiration. I thought about my daughter and realized you see it when you’re on the outside looking in more than you do as the person going through it. I want others who feel like they are just surviving to know how strong they are and they are not alone.”
So I’m a mom, a single mom at that, and I find in today’s society that sometimes working moms, and moms that are chasing their dreams and having to hustle for them get that little side glare like we’re doing something wrong by chasing them. How has all of that gone for you? Is it something important for you to show your children that we should be out there breaking down doors and going after what we want?
“Sometimes I feel guilty pursuing my dreams, like I am being selfish. I have three kids. My kids have told me that I’m gone to much and they miss me. But they’ve also encouraged me to go, and sort of pushed me out the door. I’m seeing that they get it if I model it. There is no where I like to be more than with my kids. And I only get one chance at being a parent, so I don’t want to miss a moment. But, I’ve also realized I’m a role model. I want my kids to see that dreams don’t die when we have a baby. It’s about finding balance.
As I watch her, I somehow struggle to remember she is L.A. based. She reminds me of myself and friends I grew up with in Tennessee. I can picture us sitting on a porch, just talking about life and our kids. She’s a perfect mix of a girls-girl and a guys-girl. You won’t find her in dresses or wearing cute things in her hair. She will avoid high heels unless necessary. But she does cry during commercials and is super empathetic with friends.
I decide then to talk about another song I really liked of hers. It’s called “We are America”.
With the anniversary of 9-11 just passing, and so much controversy surrounding the NFL and kneeling right now I feel like America is so divided. Tell me about this song and how you feel about the state we are in.
“I’ve never been politically minded, but I grew up in an Army family. We were patriotic and from the time I can remember I loved America. It never entered my mind not to love my country. I think disagreeing on issues is completely normal. But we have reached a new normal, and quite Honestly it’s scary. There is so much hatred swirling. For me, ‘We are America’s’ message is let’s not forget who we are and where we came from”.
You remind me a lot of Martina McBride. Her energy, and her girl next door Americana. I kept hearing her sing her song, “Independence Day” in my head as I was listening to your music. Who would you say your musical influences are?
“She was a huge influence for me, especially in country music. When my producer told me we were recording at her studio in Nashville (Blackbird) I thought it was so ironic. My biggest influence would have to be Linda Ronstadt. My dad played played her music a lot when I was a little girl and I was blown away by her voice and the fact that she’s recorded lots of different styles. As a person she had a quiet, positive strength about her….a lot like Martina. I guess there’s a pattern there! There’s something about positive, constructive strength that inspires me, as apposed to women empowerment displayed in retaliation and anger”.
What direction do you hope to go from here?
“I’m developing a show that tells my story with music. I’ve been busy writing it and getting feedback from my collaborators. I’m hoping to find more time to work on it because I think it will be very powerful.
As much as I could sit here and talk to her for a bit more, I know she’s on a tight schedule. She’s busy rehearsing for some shows all over the West Coast coming up, with hopes of making more to come so others can see her perform. So I end it with the final question I try to end each interview with.
If you could go back and give your 18-year-old self one piece of advice, what would you say to her?
“Don’t be so self-protective. People might actually like you for who you are. Relax and let life unfold…….Oh, And you’re not fat!”
As she gets up and leaves in her form-fitting classic outfit with a great jacket, I think back to something she said as we were talking about her music. She says, in the most melodic voice,
“I’ve changed my approach to music. I used to go after success. Now I create for myself, and try to release songs that give something to others”
What has been shown to me the most in this interview is that this woman portrays such selflessness. You can tell by the way she cares for her family, wants to make sure she’s there for everyone, and wants to write music so that it can help others. She is here to make her mark, do whatever it takes to achieve her dreams, and at the end of the day just wants to be a regular mom who sits on the couch with her family watching a movie.
Maybe, just maybe, I did just sit down with Wonder Woman after all.
Interview by Cindy Marshall