Although he was born in Zimbabwe and came of age in Cairo, Egypt – South Africa will soon claim 24 year old singer-songwriter LEON JOHN as their own. With his soulful presence, impactful songwriting style and more than 100k streams across online platforms, it won’t be long before LEON JOHN encapsulates you with his words and melodies. Inspired by his Karanga and Xhosa roots, LEON JOHN’s music is enchantingly complemented by his evocative and resonant vocals.
LEON JOHN found out he could sing at the age of 11 when a teacher in his music class asked him to stop singing at the back of the class and forced him to embrace his voice and sing in front of the whole school. At that moment, he fell in love with the stage and never looked back.
‘Somebody’ reached #1 on Apple Music’s ‘Afro-Soul Hits’ within a week of its release, how did that feel?
It was incredibly humbling and I felt so honoured, so seen. I’m an entirely independent artist doing things pretty much on my own so to be recognised like by the editors at Apple Music was really validating. Their support has been so in incredible and has continued on even with my newest and most recent single ‘Pray For You’.
Tell us a bit about your debut EP “To Be Continued”, how long was it in the making and what were some of the inspirations?
The EP project was the culmination of years of self doubt and fear on my part to put any of my music, music that i’d written, composed and produced myself from top to bottom, out into the world on permanent record. But after November 2017, after I experienced an overwhelming and shocking amount of support for a show that I did at the Orbit wherein I saw that people really cared to listen to my stories and not only did they care, they wanted more from me. After experiencing that level of love and support, it would have been a great disservice to the people that were so willing and ready to receive me for me to sit on my hands and do nothing and so from there ‘To Be Continued’ was born. I co-produced the project with members of my band; Josh Mokoena on the piano, Angus Hardcastle on the bass, Brownlee Dlulane on the guitar and Ndumiso Nzama on the drums, with the help of my very talented friends; my support system really, Khanyi Mkhize, Benicia Simelane and Boitumelo Taukobong on supporting vocals. Because I wanted to capture the essence of a live show, with the same electricity and raw energy as a live show, everything from top to bottom was recorded live. We rehearsed our song list for two weeks prior and all packed into studio one good day and laid it all out in about 6 hours.
Where can our readers find your latest music?
All of the music I’ve put out so far, the EP, Somebody the single and well as my newest single ‘Pray For You’ are available on all streaming platforms including but not limited to Apple Music and Spotify. To keep up with me online, you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on @theleonjohn.
Will you be performing any notable gigs this year and where/ when?
There are unfortunately no shows left for 2019. I’ll be spending a lot of the festive season writing new songs and preparing for new projects in the New Year. But definitely within the first month or two of 2020 there will be some gigs and shows to look forward to and you’ll be the first to know!
Watch this space and follow @theleonjohn for more.