Featured Artist: From poet to rapper, singer and songwriter, meet Kaleigh Ann, aka "Little Bird"

Jonathan Roberts • Updated Jul 8, 2019 at 12:00 AM

For Kaleigh Ann — also known as “Little Bird” on stage — poetry and singing came naturally to her once she got comfortable with it. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, she came south at age 17, never telling people about her passion to sing.

A stay-at-home mom, she started performing her poetry at the Willow Tree in 2017, which she said gave her the confidence to get on stage and start singing and rapping as well. After finding her confidence after years of being afraid, however, Kaleigh Ann — who doesn’t use a last name — says she wants to set an example for female artists in the community and inspire them.

What got you into music?

Well I’ve always written poetry and I’ve always written songs and I realized recently “oh I’ve got 13 songs right here that just need music to them.” And I didn’t even know I could play music because I’d never had access to instruments because when you’re raised in poverty you don’t have access to instruments — that’s why my voice was my only instrument. And then I got my hands on a ukulele and it turns out I’m a natural. But it was writing that got me into music.

When you sing, what’s your favorite genre to perform?

I really enjoy singing soul music and blues, but I also really like singing bluegrass and old Irish music. I can kind of move through the genres with my voice, which is kind of cool.

How important is it for local artists to have opportunities to like Open Mic Nights to come and perform?

It’s incredible. I never would’ve done this without those opportunities. It’s really important because people don’t have the confidence or opportunity they might just see someone on stage and feel like they can do it too. I’ve had five or six women before come up to me and say that seeing me made them want to do it too, so being able to share art freely — that’s really important because not everyone can afford to go out and try local bands, and there’s a lot of talent here.

You mentioned you’ve had people tell you they’re inspired by you, would you say that’s your favorite part of performing? Or is there something else?

Yes, that’s my favorite part. I love seeing people let go of their fear, fear kept me down for so long that once I finally broke through that and I knew what it felt like to be myself in front of others, the thought that other people could have that — especially women — is so exciting. I feel a real excitement being a female who’s unabashed and unafraid and trying to set an example for the lady community.

Do you have any major musical inspirations?

I just love everything so much, I can’t say I’ve had just one person particularly influence me one way or the other, I just like it all. I have been working on some Destiny’s Child stuff, so maybe R&B stuff.