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September 1-7, 1999

Volume 12, Issue 03






N.C. women featured at `Second Wednesday'

By Rob Seals


Leigh Hilger and Kim Buchanan are two North Carolina singer/songwriters whose success in different media formats lends fine testimony to the wealth of female musical talent across our state.

Asheville's Leigh Hilger is no stranger to the Triad music scene. She studied voice at UNCG briefly as a then-homesick 16-year-old college junior, and returns to the Gate City this week in support of her debut CD Casting Shadows, currently in rotation on over 200 public and college radio stations in the U.S. and Canada.
Kim Buchanan

"I've had mixed feelings about the big radio push," Hilger admits. "I think, `Why would people I've never met want to listen to me?' But I've never seen Alison Krauss, and I love her music. Radio is a way to reach people."

What reaches people instantly is Hilger's cello-like voice, jazzy guitar lines, and the vivid, intimate stories she spins. She writes songs of lyrical and melodic agility, and plants one foot firmly in the traditional, all the while aiming boldly for new ground.

"I understand how anger can alienate," she observes. "The way being a woman sculpts how I write is that I'm aware of how an angry female is perceived differently than an angry male. I try to write songs with stories so that the focus stays there rather than on the idea behind it -- that way people don't have to step back from it."

While Hilger spins gripping narratives, Roxboro's Kim Buchanan relies upon evocative abstraction and her rich alto to create intimacy with her listeners. Her debut CD  Will I Ever Know was featured on, the Internet's ground-breaking source for music. Buchanan's CD was MP3's number one acoustic release last month and among the top 65 of the thousands of recordings they chart.

"I don't think I have a sound like anyone else," she reflects, surprised and excited by the attention the Internet has brought to her music, "and I don't want to."

While her graceful, atmospheric vocals often draw positive comparisons to female pop stars like Sarah McLachlan, K.D. Lang, and Paula Cole, Buchanan cites Sting as a powerful influence, "because he's always changing and never stagnant; he's always trying to go to the next level."

This emphasis on growth and self-discovery permeates Buchanan's lyrics and keeps her moving forward, personally and professionally.

After making her living in music during her early 20s, Buchanan left the industry to start a family, yet says she feels encouraged by the growing national success of women songwriters. "Having two kids and a husband and having the chance to do what I love is a special treat. Everyone should find something they love to do and put themselves out there. There would be less conflict in the world if everyone could do that."

Hilger and Buchanan will perform a double bill of shows on Wednesday, September 8, the first at 7:30 p.m. at Borders in Greensboro (as part of the ongoing "Second Wednesday Songwriters" showcase series), and later that night at 10 p.m. at The Exchange on Tate St. in Greensboro.

For more information on these shows or the music series call Borders at 218-0662, The Exchange at 273-2243, or on the Net at <>.



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