Country singer transforms from wholesome to badass
Leah Durelle finds new energy in change of direction
Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 06:00 am
Saturday, June 28 at 10 p.m.
The Beer Hunter Bar and Grill
No cover. Book tables at 780-418-7867
Every woman has a right to change her mind. Well, St. Albert’s favourite traditional country princess not only changed her mind. She has revamped her tune.
For over 15 years Leah Durelle, 22, injected a fresh spark in the classic country repertoire selecting charts from the greats such as Patsy Cline and Hank Williams.
But in a surprise turnaround, Durelle teamed up with Sweet Tequila, a rockin’ country band renowned for its high-octane party sound.
“I used to do traditional country, but when Randy approached me I jumped on the idea. It’s an awesome concept, lots of fun and a totally different pace from what I’m used to. But I’m lovin’ it,” says Durelle.
Founded by Randy J. Martin, Sweet Tequila is one of Western Canada’s busiest touring bands churning out powerful grooves and killer vocals.
“There’s a different energy with Sweet Tequila. This has allowed me to expand my music in different ways and it’s given me greater areas to explore.”
When the soft-spoken singer with the big belt became an official band member in March 2014, the first thing on her agenda was learning a bunch of new supercharged songs – about 25 to 30.
Her debut show with Sweet Tequila was an out-of-towner in Cold Lake. And that’s when she discovered how different Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard are from the more contemporary Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum.
“Traditional country tells a story and you sing it slow. With rock and new country, you go all over the place. My biggest challenge was learning where all the lyrics went and where all the instrument breaks were.”
In addition, the Sweet Tequila gig also required a whole new image.
“On stage, I have to have an edgier, bad-ass image.”
Gone was the sweet, wholesome look Durelle previously sported. In a matter of a few months, she underwent a stage makeover wearing heavier makeup, streaked hair, and a whole new attitude.
“Instead of cowboy boots, I wear heels. Instead of country wear, it’s leather jackets and ripped jeans.”
The Paul Kane alumna has never wanted to be anything but a singer. On stage by the time she was six, Durelle recorded three albums and performed at scores of events including Rock’n August, Global Country and Founders Day.
Edmonton Woman also featured the emerging singer on the cover of their July-August 2008 issue. Durelle’s career was on an upward trajectory and several years ago, it appeared she was poised to burst onto the American market.
Unfortunately, as with many breakout artists, the hard work and passion didn’t generate the necessary interest, and Durelle opted to take time off music to reassess her options.
“Part of it had to with growing up. But I just wanted to get back into singing and this turned out to be a great decision.”
Sweet Tequila is holding their first local gig with Durelle on Saturday, June 28 at the Beer Hunter Bar and Grill.
“It’s going to be such a high-energy show. It’s in my hometown and all my friends will be there. It’s such a thrill to sing for friends and the hometown crowd who support what we love to do.”