JOE LEAVY’S album ‘Soul On Fire’ is rightly being touted as one of the best albums of 2023 so far and many doubt whether we’ll hear a  better one as the year progresses. (go to our review pages for more details). The long player has already yielded four charting singles, ‘Inside You, Love Me 2 My Soul’, ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Do It Again’ and the 11 tracker delivers plenty more soul gems. So what better time to hook up with genial Joe to find out a little more about ‘Soul On Fire’. First  though we asked our man to furnish us with a little bio…

I am  San Diego California born and raised. My early introduction to music was gospel as my Grandmother raised my brother and I initially after Mum and Dad divorced. Church had an essential role in my early years and the music was always vibrant and  spirit filled. I was 8 when my Mom came back into our lives. My life changed and so did the music we were immersed in. A record player , The Jackson 5  albums  ‘The Jackson 5’, ‘ABC and ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ were the Christmas gifts I remember.  I was hooked. My Mom had a fantastic collection of records, Her favourites were Al Green, Major Harris, Betty Wright, James Brown, The Hues Corporation, Billy Paul, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Staple Singers, Gladys Knight & The Pips, and too many more to list. I loved to sing and Michael was the Gold Standard!

I believe there were musicians in the family?

Everyone of my Mothers siblings were musicians. Some professional.  Two of my Aunts were professional pianist, and writers playing in bands. I entered a singing and songwriting contest in elementary school and won a class field trip for my 6th Grade class. In Highschool I was lead singer in a group called Show Band. From there my uncle took me on tour  to Japan as a co-lead singer. By this time I had been raised by my dad since 14 and learned the drywall trade. (plastering). He made me feel like music wasn’t a viable path so I always treated it like a hobby and did construction work even though I hated it.

What next?

I moved to Japan in my early 30s as things weren’t going well for me Stateside. I sang at a club at night and an owner of another club heard me and offered me a job. It was a great gig with real money an apartment and 2 meals a day. I got married had 2 kids and stayed in Japan working as a full time solo artist for the next 9 years.  I brought my family back to the U.S. in 2004 and quickly realized music wasn’t going to take care of my family the way it had in Japan so back to construction I went! At 49 I started writing music to break out of  severe depression. The music turned into my first  album ‘A Guy Named Joe Leavy’

How did that album do?

‘A Guy Named Joe Leavy’ was a great album that very few people heard! Were it not for US web site SoulTracks praising  the album and British DJ’s loving and playing the ‘I Heart You’ single and two subsequent singles which I worked on with Tom Glide  and Elliot McCauley I wouldn’t have this level of a career. I’d say the album and subsequent works definitely established me as an artist with soul music lovers in the UK though it was monetarily unsuccessful to be totally honest.

After that, (unless I’m wrong) not a lot till the 2020 single release ‘Inside You’ – what took you so long to get back into your stride?

Life happened! After 23 years my wife and I parted. Then my son was irrevocably injured by a surgical procedure gone wrong. Then sadly there was the  eventual death of my Father, the Covid epidemic and forming the relationships with the people who were instrumental in helping  me through it all. These events and my unwavering faith in God were the muse for the songs contained in the new album.

Then more singles at regular intervals leading up to the release of the album, ‘Soul On Fire’ – was that  prolonged lead-in campaign carefully planned or where there other issues?

There have been 4 actually and yes! It is a marketing strategy we implemented to drive sales of the album. We need significant album sales if we are going to continue making records. I spare no expense making what I feel is classic music. You know, my music isn’t constructed “inside the box”. There are 11 songs on the ‘Soul On Fire Album’.  10 are studio recorded works with some of the words best musicians and engineers. The goal is to be highly regarded by the critics as well as selling enough albums directly world-wide to make a return on my investment which will enable me to continue making records. Otherwise this will be my last effort.

‘Soul On Fire’ (the album) is now with us. Why did you choose that track as the LP’s title

Soul On Fire’ was chosen as the title track because I want to honour God first in all things.

It’s a full-on a gospel song… are you a believer?


For sure, you can hear full commitment on ‘Soul On Fire’. So, yes, gospel, but there are plenty of other flavours across the 11 tracks… including smooth jazz, R&B and sophisticated soul – so how exactly would you describe your sound. How do you see yourself?

Thats a great question! My music is a product of the genres I love and grew up with. There is “Soul” in every song we penned for this album regardless of the genre. I liken this album to Stevie Wonder’s ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ or Prince’s ‘1999’. Every song was amazingly produced in multiple genres.

You’ve also worked with lots of different producers on the album… why?

I have a code that I live by, “Fit in where you get in”. I have grown as an artist. I’m also executive producer, I take full responsibility for the final product. I have been very fortunate to work with a world class production team. If I am able to continue making music that trend won’t change. Diverse is what I am and diversity suits me.

The pre-released singles still sound wonderful on the album but another tune winning plenty of support is your cover of the Sam Dees song ‘Love All The Hurt Away’ . Why did you choose that one. There is real old school chemistry between yourself and Robin Joy – in the manner of say Marvin and Tammi… were you in the studio together for the recording?

‘Love all the Hurt Away’, the remake, is an amazing rendition indeed. There is one man responsible for its inception and redevelopment and that’s producer Ivan Johnson Sr.  Robin and I recorded the vocal several years ago. Ivan was working on ideas with Robin and called me . I had forgotten about it completely until Ivan made that call. He said “Hey Man this is a vibe! You should think about adding it to the album” I am glad I listened. I called Tim Bailey Jr and asked him to play bass on the record. Ivan did some additional work and viola we have Magic!! Robin, by the way, is  an amazing artist. She’s well known here in our city and soon she will be known around the world!

Were you daunted by the fact that the song’s best known version is by two music giants – Aretha and George Benson?

I was happy to sing on the record but I was hesitant to consider it as an album piece because of the iconic stature Aretha and George embody. I feel we made it our own. Thats a testament to the greatness of Maestro Ivan Johnson.

How will you be promoting the album?

We’re going to release every song on this album and ask that our friends in Radio, Bloggers, Podcast Hosts etc.. that love this album support us by reminding listeners, readers, fans old and new that the only way independent artist like me can continue making the music we love is with their direct support. Streaming doesn’t pay. We need album sales and are respectfully asking fans to go to https://joeleavy.com/ and buy the album.

‘Soul On Fire’ is winning plenty of praise and support but it took a long time coming – just how difficult is it for  independent artists to get their music out there these days?

It’s easy to get it out Its very hard to get it paid for!

And finally where can we learn more and how can people get hold of ‘Soul On Fire’?

The album is for sale exclusively at https://joeleavy.com/ . You can choose Hi Res Wav file downloads, a  Signed hard copy CD  or both. Once your purchase is made you will receive a link with  the downloads (Please load one at a time) or your CD in the mail.

Read our album review @  https://www.soulandjazzandfunk.com/reviews/joe-leavy-soul-on-fire-harmonius-records/