London, United Kingdom (PressExposure) January 01, 2007 -- Leonie Casanova is enjoying an incredible start to her music career with the inclusion of her self-penned songs in two films by British director Shamim Sarif. Debut single âBrokenâ, with its beautiful sensitivity and deceptive prettiness, was written specifically for âThe World Unseenââ a film that has just been awarded eleven SAFTAs (South African BAFTAs) and which premieres in London next month. Follow up single âLittle Feelingâ features in Sarifâs acclaimed debut film âI Canât Think Straightâ, which is also screening in London at the National Film Theatre.
Having spent her childhood in Zambia and Swaziland and her adulthood in America and Britain, Leonie Casanova draws from a deep pool for her inspiration. At home in Zambia, radio stations would proudly broadcast the likes of Charley Pride and Kenny Rogers âI think this is because country music resonates with the storytelling element that is so prevalent in a lot of African musicâ whilst Leonieâs first record collection, which was inherited from her older sister, included Prince, Grace Jones and Blondie. âBetween what was on the radio and this eclectic collection from my sister I swam through a whole lot of different styles to suit my mood, and each was special to meâ.
Despite her upbringing being âcolourfulâ and often chaotic Leonie grew up as an only child, entertaining herself and becoming independent and self-contained, âsinging kept me company, I think of myself as a gregarious hermitâ. Following the death of her father and moving to boarding school in Swaziland, her love affair with music continued with the discovery of what she describes as âthe magic and angst of Billie Holidayâ, the opportunity to sing with a blues band and the exposure to the sounds from neighbouring South Africa.
At college in America Leonie embraced gospel âI lived for those rehearsals and performancesâ but it was when she performed some of her own songs in a small club (Book Slam) in Notting Hill that a door opened that promised to change her life. In the audience, along with the writer Jonathan Coe, were writer and director Shamim Sarif and film producer Hanan Kattan who asked Leonie if she would consider writing some music for a film.
âThe moment I first heard Leonie sing on stage in a club in London, I was blown away,â recalls Sarif. âNot only does she have a phenomenal voice and great presence on stage, but more importantly for me, her lyrics were intelligent and moving, and combined with music that carries intense emotion â it was a stunning combination.â
Leonie was able to draw inspiration not just from the complexity of the relationships and topics explored in the filmâs script but also from her own experiences of the storyâs
location, South Africa, during and post Apartheid. The result, âBrokenâ, is a layered and moving song that was recorded in Cape Town and remixed by Jim Eliot of Kish Mauve.
Having already performed at Cannes and Toronto film festivals and at the US premier of âThe World Unseenâ Leonie, who has a cameo appearance in the film, will be playing an acoustic set at the charity screening of âThe World Unseenâ at BAFTA on the 31st of March.