WRAL-TV Anchor/Reporter Bill Leslie is releasing another CD celebrating his ancestry in early October. A follow-up to his award-winning Scotland-Grace of the Wild which harkened Scotland, Across the Waters explores his Irish heritage. Leslie will officially launch Across the Waters at a CD Release Party at Quail Ridge Books on Sunday, October 4th.
“I am trying to cover all of my ancestral bases by traveling to various places of my roots and compose music from those places,” said Leslie. “Ireland is a big part of my heritage and my first trip came in 2014.”
In fact travel inspired Leslie’s musical career in a roundabout way. On his first trip to Scotland years ago he attended a concert by the ground-breaking Celtic fusion band Nightnoise (well-known via their albums on Windham Hill Records). He said that the trip, “paved the way for my music [career] today.”
“Also on that trip, he heard someone play the Celtic whistle and he fell in love with its haunting beauty,” writes Zone Music Reporter Bill Binkelman in a piece about Leslie. “Returning home to Raleigh, North Carolina, he was saddened to learn there was no one locally who gave lessons on the instrument. Undaunted, he taught himself, using books, cassettes and videotaped instructions. Inspired by his new found passion for Celtic music, Leslie acquired a multi-track recorder and began laying down guitar, whistle and piano tracks, eventually building a full-fledged home studio.”
Leslie went on to co-found the Celtic band Bragh Adair, recording two albums with them over the four years of the band’s existence. After the band he trekked on his own solo music career and also joined the band Lorica.
He recorded his first solo album in 2004, Peaceful Journey. Across the Waters is his eighth solo release.
In 2014, he traveled to Ireland with his wife, Cindy. He got to spend a day with Brian Dunning, a member of Nightnoise, the Celtic band that had first inspired him.
“It was a thrill to spend a day in Dublin in Nightnoise flutist Brian Dunning who was one of the greats in the Windham Hill Records craze of the 1980s and 90s,” said Leslie. “We have been friends for years but it was so much fun to drive around Ireland with him and hear his stories. Brian agreed to play on three of my songs including Connemara which is his favorite place in all of Ireland. I spent ten days in Ireland with Cindy and we had a blast – enjoying everything from the pastoral scenery to historic sites to the Celtic music scene in the town of Ennis.”
Across the Waters includes 12 tracks, many of them Leslie’s original compositions. Several are also traditional Irish tunes.
“I think this is my best album,” said Leslie. “I know I worked harder on this one and put more money into it than ever! I hope it does well.”
If early reviews are an indicator, Across the Water will do well.
“Absolutely gorgeous!” says Michael Diamond of Music and Media Focus. “Brilliant original compositions performed by world-class instrumentalists. Both haunting and soul stirring. A lavish listening experience.”
Leslie will hold a CD Release Party for Across the Water at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on Sunday, October 4, 2015 at 4pm. Leslie will play songs from the new album and sign CDs. The music event and reception following are free and open to the public.
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Bill Leslie for these capcom photos.