News Column

Singer-songwriter brings folksy lyrics, soulful vocals to N.D.

June 21, 2013


June 21--Growing up in a small Midwestern town, Shantel Leitner developed her own music genre: soul-infused folk. The Kansas singer-songwriter will bring her folksy lyrics and soulful vocals to North Dakota when she performs at 8 p.m. June 28 at El Roco.

The 26-year-old musician from Atwood, Kan., was born into a musical family. Her grandfather, mother and aunt comprised a family country-western band, and they often encouraged her to join them on stage, giving her an early start with performing.

It wasn't long before she was following in her family members' footsteps. Leitner had written poetry and short stories when she was a child and started writing lyrics at age 16.

She said she doesn't have a writing process, but sometimes the flood gates just open.

"It's very organic," she said. "It feels like it's me, but it's not me."

At 20, Leitner decided she wanted to do more with her music, so she attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. During college, she began writing more often and performing her original music more regularly.

She moved back to Kansas after college and worked for nine months recording her first album, "Indigo," which was released June 29, 2012. She's been busy touring the country ever since.

Leitner is now on her summer music tour, where she is visiting the midwestern, northeastern and southern states to promote "Indigo," which is an eclectic collection of songs about love, breakups and moving on.

She said she doesn't overthink her lyrics because she believes her subconscious knows what she's trying to say. She writes about people and their interactions with one another.

"When you meet someone, there's a lot of politeness. There's something about a song that cuts through that," she said. "Music is a vessel that allows you to have those hard discussions."

Midwest reggae rock band Jon Wayne and The Pain will also perform June 28 at El Roco.

If you go

--What: Outdoor concert featuring singer-songwriter Shantel Leitner and reggae rock band Jon Wayne and The Pain.

--When: 8 p.m. June 28.

--Where: El Roco, 1730 13th Ave. N., Grand Forks.

--Cost: $10.


Maki covers Arts & Entertainment and Life & Style for the Herald and can be reached at (701) 780-1122, (800)477-6572, ext. 1122; or


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