Canadian singer-songwriter and internationally touring artist, Lesley Young serves up a rich brew of contemporary folky-pop with a jazz twist. She melds these sounds and rhythms into a vision of passion and loveliness.
Born in Toronto, Lesley was raised in the neighbourhood of Cabbagetown. She grew up in a creative family of writers, artists and musicians. After a few years in art school and a brief stint in musical theatre, she received an invitation to play live on a nationally aired C.B.C radio programme. This was the beginning of her music career that spans over more than 30 years.
Lesley studied vocals with Pat Hawke. '90-'91. Her playing evolved to an innovative use of open tunings, after studying guitar with Berklee music grads Steve Briggs ('85 - '87) and James Pett ('92-'93). Her mentor and manager for several years, James Pett produced her debut folk-jazz album, Symphony for Two.
"Shines with inspiration...the music is rich in texture and tapestry... sultry and sparkling guitar...' Gary 17, to-nite magazine.
The title track of Lesley Young's second disc, Inside, was finalist in both folk and pop categories in three international song competitions and 2nd place winner in France. Her ballad Jezebel, was also chosen top 5 finalist, in the folk category for The Great American Song Contest. This album received favourable reviews from the press.
"You know that feeling you get from biting into dark chocolate, being torn between guilt and unadulterated pleasure? That’s what this second release is all about by Toronto singer-songwriter Lesley Young." Eric Thom, Exclaim, Canada
"Lesley Young has no problem baring her soul for all to hear, and that honesty has led to new heights of success". Justin Skinner, City Center/The Mirror, Canada
"She is a master songwriter who is a craftsman with words. She delivers her messages through a voice somewhat reminiscent of Shawn Colvin - strong, beautiful, and distinctively feminine." Radio Indie, USA
The lyrics for Lesley's touching ballad "Deschenes Avenue" and personal recollections of summers in the Woodroffe area of Ottawa at her grandmother's house, were published in a book, Canadian local history project, River, Road & Rail - Woodroffe North Bicentennial Memories - New Local History Book. Her remarkable songwriting capabilities grabbed international attention when she was booked at the legendary Bitter End Club songwriter’s showcase in 2009, 2010, and 2012. Artists who have inspired Lesley include Suzanne Vega, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading, and Rickie Lee Jones.
Lesley and her longtime partner and musical collaborator John McKay-Clements formed a duo in 2001. They have done several recordings and toured in Canada, USA, Netherlands Germany, and UK. John brings rock elements into the musical collaboration, with his musical roots in folk-rock, garage, psychedelic and experimental music genres.
Young’s career highlites include opening for top musicians such as; Don Ross (fingerstyle champion), Scottish rocker Kenny Maclean (Platinum Blonde), Grievous Angels (Juno nominated) and Mose Scarlette (Borealis Records). Lesley has performed in many Toronto festivals, such as Art Beat (Mariposa on the street), Cabbagetown Festival, Parkdale Then & Now Festival, Kensington Art & Music Festival, Mimico Festival, Nuit Blanche Festival, TD Jazz Festival. Internationally the Lesley Young Duo performed at Vurige Tongen Festival (Fiery Tongues Poetry and Music Festival) of Holland.
”Refreshing to hear music of such originality and quality for a change.” WOUI (college radio), Chicago, USA
Lesley’s music and performances have captured the attention of bloggers, radio presenters and television producers in Canada and abroad. A live performance by Lesley's band Touchwood was frequently aired on Roger's cable television. Rick Fielding, the popular host of Acoustic Workshop on Toronto’s college radio station CIUT, said that Lesley’s debut album Symphony for Two was one of his “top five indie albums of the year ('94)." Jazz Fm.91.1 host Danny Marks, invited Lesley to showcase at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse, Toronto. Internationally, the Amsterdam Songwriter's Guild presented the Lesley Young/L.Y. Duo at Skek, and at a live concert at OBA studios, aired on Amsterdam Radio 5. The Lesley Young Trio were invited to take part in Twosomes & Threeways, a jazz series, and were included in the 2012 TD Jazz Festival, presented by Toronto radio producer and host Sharron McLeod (Flow 93.5 and CKLN 88.1).
"As well her acoustic guitar skills, her vocal and songwriting capabilities are first-class....The CD is superbly recorded and certainly will impress a wide audience which is a wonderful journey from the inside." Henk te Veldhuis, BRIDGE GUITAR REVIEWS, Netherlands
Lesley has hosted many popular music stages in Toronto since 1995, including a songwriter's showcase stage in the annual Cabbagetown Community Arts and Music Festival. In September to January of 2013 - 2014, Lesley hosted three songwriter's events at Glasgow's hip underground venue, 13th Note.
In 2018 Lesley Young and her longtime partner/ sideman/co-producer John McKay-Clements will be releasing an EP of songs recorded in Edinburgh. Lesley's songwriting themes include passion and betrayal, psychological revelations, ecology, exotic animals, exotic tunings and lately completely unexpected twists are cropping up, so stay tuned . . .
“Young’s second disc shows the promise of good things to come and I can’t wait.” Eric Thom, Exclaim, Canada