© Dave Pullinger
Leoni Jane Kennedy is a Blackpool born, Guildford based singer-songwriter, often described as 'haunting' by her audiences. With power and soul behind her voice, this artist combines intricate guitar melodies and riffs with lyrics that surpass her years. This story tells the journey of a young songstress who's developing a sound worthy of being heard by the music industry.
Leoni was hooked on blues rock from a young age after being gifted a CD of Status Quo. Their greatest hits album was stuck on repeat until 2011, when she finally got to see the band live at Lytham Proms. Leoni is also influenced by the likes of Rush, King Crimson, Blue Öyster Cult and many bands from a diverse range of genres.
Growing up, Leoni attended weekly jam nights at her local pub where the house band, Barkin', would invite her up to play along with them. They became like family and taught Leoni all she knows about guitar and improvisation. She joined them in playing hit songs from the 50's through to the 90's such as ‘Whisky in the Jar’ by Thin Lizzy and 'Copperhead Road' by Steve Earle.
Throughout high school, Leoni performed in multiple bands within the music department and was recognised as a reliable student with the skills to back other pupils for their performances and in school productions. In her final year, she would join her favourite music teacher once a week to assist younger students learning songs as a form of work experience. Leoni was welcomed back on multiple occasions to perform with them for the annual concert 'The Celebration of Music' held at Blackpool's Winter Gardens.
When Leoni was 13, she entered a competition called 'Rock The House' which completely changed her life. She passed the audition stage and was invited to perform at The Bedford in Balham, one of London's most popular live music venues which has been pivotal in the early careers of Ed Sheeran and Paolo Nutini, to name a few. From this competition, Leoni received an artist sponsorship from Yamaha and was endorsed by Orange Amplification. At The Bedford, Leoni met multiple industry creatives, such as veteran Iron Maiden keyboard player, Tony Moore.
“ Leoni has fantastic talents that belie her young age and I see enormous potential for her to have a long and successful career in this business. ”
Tony continues to support Leoni and invites her to play bass on some of his solo shows - he has become a close friend.
At college, Leoni studied double BTEC Music Performance, A Level Music Technology and AS Level Fine Art. As one of her tutors had seen her performing gigs around the local area before starting the course, Leoni was already recognised as someone they could rely on to perform for demonstrations and college open days. Taking part in college gigs, concerts, and musicals, Leoni completed her courses with A*'s and Double Distinctions, with her sights set firmly on university.
In 2018, Leoni moved south and began studying the Music Industry Practice degree at ACM Guildford. She applied for two scholarships and came out as the runner up for the BASCA scholarship, but was instead chosen by 'Queen's’ Brian May and Roger Taylor to receive the 'Freddie Mercury' Scholarship, covering her entire university tuition fees. This Scholarship saw the previous year's winner, along with Leoni and ACM alumni pianist, recording a cover of Queen song 'The Show Must Go On' at Metropolis Studios in London where Freddie's piano has been kept since his passing. Leoni and the team also joined Youtube in the tunnels of London's underground stations, performing Queen songs in celebration of the film release - they later attended as VIP guests at the World Premier of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' at Wembley's SSE Arena.
Late 2018, Leoni was invited to join Tony Moore at a KT Tunstall gig in Kingston - the two had been rehearsing for one of Tony's solo shows earlier in the day and so they drove together from Clapham to attend, but unfortunately, Tony's car had given up on the ring road a few streets away from the venue! Leoni was given the option to go to the gig without Tony and so she grabbed her bass and headed for PRIZM. She was put in touch with KT's manager who invited her backstage after the performance for a chat. The following day, Leoni rang Tony and told him all about the night, and how she had received an endorsement from BOSS Pedals.
Nearing the end of her 1st year at University, Leoni connected with her bass player, Will, whom she knew through college and drummer, James Jackman, through a class that both Will and James shared. Once the band was formed, they went straight into rehearsals to prepare a solid set list of Leoni's originals for gigging. During summer 2019, they went into ACM's SSL studio with producer of Motörhead and Uriah Heep, John Gallen, who had previously taught Leoni for production classes and recorded some solo acoustic songs prior to the full band recordings. John was teaching production lectures whilst using the trio as the demonstration band, which resulted in a live album consisting of 7 songs and Leoni's latest single "Life Like This" which was released in October 2020 and can be found on all major platforms.
Leoni graduated in 2020 with a 1st Class BA Honours Degree in Music Industry Practice and she continues to chase her dreams of being a full time musician and songwriter.
Scott Oram / Leoni
Pete, Colin, Scott, Ken / 'Barkin'
“ I met Leoni in my first year of college and we’ve been performing together since then in various bands and shows. So when we moved down to Guildford together she asked me to play bass with her for her own tunes. I met James at university as we had a few of the same lectures and I soon found out how good a drummer he is, shortly after the start of uni we formed our three piece and have had a solid year of gigging to show for it. I have had so many great experiences with Leoni and the band, we’ve done quite a lot together already such as function gigs and session work, as well as playing several sets of Leoni’s original songs.”
© Rob Blackham
“ Leoni Jane Kennedy is, without doubt, one of the best musicians I have ever come across in my life. Her ability to write complex melodies, both on the guitar and vocally, is matched only by her captivating lyrical maturity for someone so young. I am constantly inspired by Leoni, who pushes me as a musician with every new song she writes, and is someone who makes it her prerogative to make sure the musicians she surrounds herself with feel comfortable and happy. The atmosphere in every room that she graces is breathtaking, you can hear a pin drop, be it in a local pub, or a packed out theatre. A true joy to work with, and an even greater joy to be around as a dear friend. ”