As I watched Leslie Krafka perform one of her original songs from the café table of a coffee house she frequently plays, I sensed she might come from a long line of story tellers. Listening to the assenting “All The Luck”, a ballad about bad breaks in life, and “Wandering Troubadour”, an expression of ephemeral love, from her debut CD The White Cat Sessions, I concluded her passion for her art must be in her blood.
As I later discovered, indeed Leslie inherited her love for storytelling. “My grandfather told the best stories”, she recalls. “They were better than anything on television. I admired the way he could keep all us grandkids spellbound for hours. I really wanted to have the gift.” However, she took it one step further and put her words to music. “I also had a grandmother who was a marvelous singer. She was a high soprano and I remember her favorite song was Ave Maria.” Those influences, along with a household vinyl collection that ranged from Donny Osmond to Charlie Parker gave Leslie an appreciation for a multitude of music. “My brother introduced alt-country to our family, but I listened to Top 40 for the most part, and my little sister loved 80’s glam rock. Looking back there was always a weird mix of albums stashed around the stereo in the family room.”
However, being a music lover didn’t translate right away to becoming a music maker. “I always thought writing songs, playing out, or recording…that’s what other people did, you know, famous people. It was a long time before I actually embarked into the world of songwriting, and even longer for me to envision myself as a performer.”
Call it destiny or call it luck, Leslie did find her passion at a songwriter’s workshop hosted by Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines, who by the way co-produced Leslie’s sophomore CD due out in May 2014. “Looking back on that experience, I was so naïve. I was taking it all in and something clicked, and I knew this songwriting thing was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” Coincidentally that workshop was the first time Leslie ever performed in front of a live audience. “It was one of those moments in life where you say ‘yes’ and it changes everything. I mean I stood in front of 100 people and sang a song I’d written only days before with Lloyd playing guitar. Can you believe? It all seems so surreal now.”
Since that first workshop Leslie has worked hard at her craft. In 2010 she was rewarded by the Houston Songwriter’s Association who named her Songwriter of the Year, as well as naming her song “Wondering Troubadour” Song of the Year. Other recognitions followed, being named a Regional Finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival; as well as having her CD The White Cat Sessions nominated by the Academy of Texas Music for the Academy Award of Distinction. “Awards are fine’ Leslie reflected, “but the best reward is knowing that my music connects with someone. That’s satisfying.”
With the release of a new record on the horizon, Leslie lit up when the topic was broached. “I’m very excited about the new record. I’m working with my dream team and my songs are sounding so amazing, I can’t wait to get it finished.” After hearing some of the new material, like the energetic Wine, Women and Song, or Stay with Me, a love song with a dash of angst, it’s clear Leslie has continued in her quest to craft ever better songs. With this recording Leslie Krafka is primed to venture outside of Texas and take her music into other parts of the country.
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