Leilani Kilgore: The Girl That Truly Rocks

Hannah Kovensky, GRAMMY Camp LA

When taking a quick glance at Leilani Kilgore, it would be nearly impossible not to come to the conclusion that this girl is a musician. She’s got the look: dark jeans, a punky top, a plaid over shirt, and an overall rocker vibe and edgy aura surrounding her. Topping it all off is the way she carries herself: bold but not over-confident, classic but not obsolete, and meanwhile, wholly authentic. This teenage guitarist, particularly fond of playing the blues, shared a few thoughts respecting artists of the past and present, while also defining her personal style and its development over the years.

Who are some of your favorite guitarists of all time?

Definitely blues musicians, like Son House, Robert Johnson, and Howlin’ Wolf. Also more modern musicians like Joe Bonamassa, Jack White, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix. Basically the blues icons, they’re really amazing people.

If you could get any guitarist to give you a one-on-one lesson, who would you pick?

Probably Chris Cain. He’s not that well known, but he can play almost any genre of music and mold it together into blues, and it’s incredible.

What inspired you to start playing guitar?

Playing guitar is like expressing a really strong emotion when you don’t know how to put it into words. Guitar is how you can say it, it’s an outlet.

Were the people that inspired you to start playing the same people you mentioned earlier who you really look up to?

Yeah. Joe Bonamassa, I saw him live, and I literally started crying, which I don’t do often, so, if you can be listening to a live performance and start bawling, that’s pretty cool, so that definitely inspired me to start playing blues stuff.

If you could form a dream band, who would be the lead and rhythm guitarists you’d pick?

Probably Jimmy Page and maybe Jack White. 

What is your favorite type of music to write and play? Is there anything really weird that you like to play that other people wouldn’t expect?

I started out with classical and flamenco, and then I went into punk rock, and last year is when I started playing blues. I think blues is my favorite to write and play because it’s all about the emotion and it’s not about impressing other people. It’s just about how raw you can get it and how much of yourself you can put into your music. That’s what I like about it.

What albums have been the most influential to you? And what are some of your favorite albums of all time?

Probably Beacon Theatre Live by Joe Bonamassa, Lazaretto by Jack White, and Mule Variations by Tom Waits… that one is really good.

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