To many, her career had the makings of a dream come true. Yet after spending more than 13 years and half her life making hit records, performing before sold out crowds and jet-setting around the globe, Leigh Nash called it quits.
Co-founder and lead vocalist for the colossally successful pop band, Sixpence None the Richer, Nash was known for her pixie-like appearance and distinctive, signature vocals. Formed with guitarist and songwriter Matt Slocum, the group went on to record six albums - garnering them critical acclaim, numerous Dove Awards and a Grammy nomination. The band's biggest hit, "Kiss Me" catapulted Sixpence into the spotlight. Soon their songs were featured on movie and TV soundtracks and they had guest appearances on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, "The Late Show with David Letterman" and the "Today" show.
So why give all that up? According to Nash, there were many reasons, "I was seven months pregnant when we decided to break up÷ I was about to enter into this huge other "thing" and I needed space and I needed to take some time away from my career; and that was the best way to do it÷ I just kind of needed a blank slate." There were also problems with the "business" side of the music industry which caused increasing frustration for the group. "We were completely exhausted by the record label problems that we had constantly over the years," shares Nash. "If all that stuff hadn't happened, and we'd had the same great record label for our whole careers, I don't think we would have broken up."
The dissolution of Sixpence was big news, and nobody was more surprised at the reaction than Nash herself. "I don't think we expected people to think it was such a big deal that we broke up," she reflects. "Not to throw a pity party, but we just felt under-appreciated and like we didn't matter at all to the world. Matt and I were both really flattered by the reaction that everybody had."
Then, even before the dust settled, Nash had another huge, life-altering event take place in her life ÷ the birth of her son, Henry. At 27, Nash felt like she was mature enough and prepared to be a mom. But as it turns out, she wasn't prepared for the crazy love she experienced for this beautiful little boy or for the changes her new-found motherhood would bring. "One of the ways that was most surprising was how independent and strong and more confident I felt after going through childbirth and having a human pass through my body. It was just such an incredible experience that it made me feel almost like a superhero÷ and I'd never felt that way before."
Now that Henry has reached his terrible twos, Nash has caught her breath and embarked on a solo career. Her profound parenting experience is chronicled in her debut solo recording, Blue on Blue, which was released in August. Many of the songs are about Henry because for two years he was her complete focus. "That's just what was on my mind at the time. For the rest of my life it will be," she muses. "When you're a mother, it's something that will plague you until you die; to put it really morosely. That doesn't sound as wonderful as I think it is, but it is relentless, and it's terrifying. It's also the best thing that ever happened to me."
Understandably, Nash is a little daunted by the whole parenting gig. Raising little ones in our complicated society can be downright frightening. "My struggle is just going to be to teach him - the best that I know how - to be the best person he can be in the world ÷ I'm scared for him, but in time you have to kind of give him over to God, which is really hard - near impossible - but I think it's really important," she says.
Faith is a very important part of Nash's life. Raised in a Southern Baptist church, she became a Christian and was baptized when she was 13. Despite many spiritual ups and downs over the years, she remains focused, "I'm so thankful for this faith and the relationship that I have. I'm learning new things all the time that have broadened my view of the world so much÷ it's essential and a very vital part of my existence," she shares.
"Sometimes we try to shrink God down to the size that we can understand÷ how can we really comprehend the whole thing?" she relates. Not satisfied with being a "cookie cutter" Christian, Nash wants more, "I want to live really authentic. I want to live how He wants me to live, but I realize that's not simple÷ You just have to wait and take it one day at a time."
Right now, Nash is handling the juggling act of balancing a career and motherhood like most parents ÷ one day at a time. If her amazing first solo recording is any indication, it is going to be another wild ride.
Canadians can see Leigh perform in New York State and Michigan this November, please visit www.leighnash.com for further details.
Amy Hammond Hagberg is a frequent contributor to numerous publications around the world. Her first book, How Do You Know He's Real: Celebrity Reflections on True Life Experiences with God (Destiny Image) was released in April 2006. The first in a planned three-book series, it is a collection of testimonies from well-known athletes, musicians and actors on how they know God is real. The second installment, God Unplugged, is geared toward youth and will be released in November 2006. For more information visit her website www.hesreal.com.
Writer: Amy Hammond Hagberg