Take 5 with Leme Nolan

Tuning in with Wilmington chanteuse Leme Nolan

“When did you start singing?” is an odd question to ask. No one remembers the first time they hummed a tune. So, perhaps the better question to ask is “When did you decide this whole singing thing might be worth a shot?”

Wilmington chanteuse LEME NOLAN grew up singing in a family full of voices. Her childhood in Merrimon, a small town in Carteret County, was full of music, from gospel and Sunday choir to the powerful female voices of R&B and country.

“Growing up, when people ask you what you wanna be, I did always say I wanted to be a singer. But, I didn’t really know where or how that would come about. I always knew I did want to sing. I just didn’t know how to do that professionally,” Nolan says.

In college, and later in her adult life, she continued to sing in choruses and on praise and worship teams, but something shifted a few years ago.

“2017 is when I really wanted to take this more seriously,” Nolan says. “So far, it’s working out. It just took me trying to get out here. You can’t just sing at the house. No one is going to hear you like that.”

Nolan’s particular sound is heavily gospel, the place where she comes from. But, she also leans on modern R&B and contemporary Christian styles, with some country thrown in for good measure. The dedicated singer now performs most weekends at local venues and has an EP out, Love With the Ring Attached. Her new country single, “Smells Like Freedom,” comes out this winter. And she’s a regular at Tails Piano Bar, where she’ll also be a part of its New Year’s Eve celebration to welcome in 2020.

Learning how to manage and book herself as an independent artist, without the support of a label yet, has been an uphill climb, but Nolan is disciplined and has plans. She’s been adapting to the role of Determined Artist with a Day Job.

“You know, it works out just going in there, showing your face, giving out your business card. I send a lot of emails out to different venues where I’ve seen performers. If that doesn’t work, I call or show up there,” she says. “You get a lot of responses that people are booked or not interested. But, you gotta keep pushing and making contact. You never know when you’ll get that Big Gig.”

And, it’s working. Her base of fans is dedicated and enthusiastic.

“I feel like everything is coming together,” Nolan says. “As an independent artist, it takes longer than someone who is signed and has a whole marketing team. Me, I’m sending emails, doing booking, getting the songs together for the bands, getting what I’m going to wear together. I have supporters that come to every show at Tails, they haven’t missed one. They’ll even ask me the colors I’m wearing so they can come in the same colors. I love it, I’m so appreciative of their support.”

Take 5 with Leme Nolan

Who is a singer you admire and why?

“I admire all singers and anyone in general who stays true to themselves and tries their best in life. Whether it’s being a singer, dancer, actor, doctor, etc., we were all made in our own unique ways, and our life experiences molded us into who we are today.”

What’s the toughest part about being an independent artist?

“One of the toughest parts is marketing. It is essential, and it takes both time and most of the time money for which can be limited. Thankfully, it is a great learning experience, and so far the phone calls made and emails I’ve sent are paying off. I appreciate my forever-growing supporters as well for sharing my videos, pictures, and events.”

What’s your day job?

“I am a budget analyst, working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civilian service. I also served in the U.S. Air Force … My passion is singing though, and I will one day do it on a full-time basis. I’m thankful and very happy to do both currently. I continue to juggle many things in life, but no matter what, I keep going with the love and support from my children, family, and friends – it means a lot.”

Is there a memorable performance of yours that comes to mind?

“All of my performances are memorable, and I’m thankful for each and every one of them. Whether I perform for one person or someday millions, I want to give my best. Anyway, I do in particular love calling random audience members up to sing with me every once in a while. One audience member and supporter loves this song by Minnie Riperton called “Lovin’ You.” He loves to hit that high note at the very end.”

Your personal theme song?

“My personal theme song is being currently written by my daughter and I. It will embark on some of our differences but yet how it is all so beautiful.”


To view more of photographer Megan Deitz’s work, go to megandeitz.com.

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Categories: Women to Watch