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.
"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
"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 MP3.com, 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
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
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