Awards for Artists
Image of Heather Leigh
Photo credit: Emile Holba

Heather Leigh

Heather Leigh (born 1976) is a West Virginian, Texas raised composer and singer currently based in Glasgow. She is renowned for her spontaneous composition and for redefining the pedal steel guitar, taking the instrument beyond the bounds of the country and western genre. As a solo artist, she explores themes relating to the representation of women, sexuality and vulnerability.

Leigh’s 2015 album I Abused Animal (Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego) received wide international acclaim, showcasing her talent as a composer, songwriter and vocalist, as well as her pedal steel guitar innovations. This album built upon previous successful releases including Nightingale (Golden Lab Records) and Devil if You Can Hear Me (Not Not Fun).

She has an extensive catalogue of collaborative work, which in recent years has focused on her duo with German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann. She has toured widely in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

I am greatly honoured and humbled to receive the generous Paul Hamlyn Award. Since the release of my solo LP, ‘I Abused Animal’ and my duo LP with Peter Brötzmann, ‘Ears Are Filled With Wonder’, I’ve had the opportunity to play venues and festivals I’ve never played before alongside gracious widespread critical acclaim for my approach to composition and improvisation. The award will allow me the freedom to focus solely on developing and furthering my work with pedal steel guitar and voice as a solo artist, in duo with Peter Brötzmann and in collaboration with other musicians both live and in the studio.

Examples of work

Ears are Filled with Wonder, 2015

Pedal steel guitar (Heather Leigh) and tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, tárogató (Peter Brötzmann). 28 minutes 10 seconds duration (extract 1m 47s). Recorded in Krakow, Poland. Released in April 2016 on Not Two (CD), Trost (LP) and Catalytic Sound (Digital).

Fairfield Fantasy, 2014

Pedal steel guitar and vocals (Heather Leigh). 9 minutes 15 seconds duration (extract 2m 2s). Final track on album I Abused Animal released on Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego, November 2015.

All That Heaven Allows, 2014

Pedal steel guitar and vocals (Heather Leigh). 7 minutes 47 seconds duration (extract 2m). Third track on album I Abused Animal released on Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego, November 2015.

I Abused Animal, 2014

Vocals (Heather Leigh). 4 minutes 42 seconds duration (extract 2m). First track on album I Abused Animal released on Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego, November 2015.