Minnesota Now with Cathy Wurzer

Minneapolis musician Leslie Vincent explores diverging friendships and loss in 'About Last Night'

A woman in a dress stands in front of a red wall
Minneapolis musician Leslie Vincent.

Minneapolis musician Leslie Vincent has been busy recently getting ready to put out her second solo album, '“About Last Night.”

Vincent has a background in jazz and many years of musical theater. She shared her influences and inspirations with MPR News host Cathy Wurzer.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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Audio transcript

[MUSIC - LESLIE VINCENT, "PSYCHEDELICS WITH YOU"] In another time and another place, the San Francisco sun shines on our faces. We're walking down the streets with our crazy friends--

CATHY WURZER: That, friends, is a sneak peek of a brand new song, "Psychedelics With You," by Minneapolis' own Leslie Vincent. Leslie has been busy recently getting ready to put out her second solo album, called About Last Night. She has a background in jazz and many years of musical theater, and she is on the line right now. Leslie, for goodness sakes, that was a great little bit of music there. Welcome.

LESLIE VINCENT: Thank you. Oh, man. I'm so excited to be here.

CATHY WURZER: So this is a brand new song, "Psychedelics With You." I like that. That's got a lot of sass to it.


CATHY WURZER: Tell me more about the song.

LESLIE VINCENT: Yeah, so it's my first time writing a jazz piece with my own storytelling built in, just the story of a really dear friend of mine who loves psychedelics and really pushed me to experiment with them and try to open my mind. And at the last minute, I couldn't do it. And so this song is sort of a recreation of what that could have been like and then a grieving of, you know, when two friends kind of go in different paths and wishing things could be different, but recognizing that they are where they are, wrapped up in a party sound.

CATHY WURZER: All right. Interesting idea and story for a song, you know? I'm wondering about this friend of yours. Does the friend know about this song?

LESLIE VINCENT: He does. I sent him a demo about a year ago. And then I sent him the album artwork. So the album artwork is a picture of us in San Francisco. But we haven't discussed it in depth. It's actually on my list of things to do to give him a call and see if he liked it.

CATHY WURZER: OK, let's talk about your band. The other musicians who worked on that song with you seemed like, just listening to that, they truly are an excellent, excellent band.

LESLIE VINCENT: Oh, yeah. They're great. So I've taken a lot of time to cultivate this group of musicians, finding people who aren't just great at playing but are also open hearted, open to collaboration, easy to laugh with and have fun with.

I think that's so important, especially as musicians, we spend a lot of time backstage hanging out. And you really want to spend time with people that you enjoy. And so not only do we have a good time playing music together, but we also have fun just kicking it and hanging out. And I like to think that comes across in both our recorded music and our live performance.

CATHY WURZER: Let's listen to another new song of yours. Now, this is not going to be released until later this week. It's called "How I Loved You on Mars."

[MUSIC - LESLIE VINCENT, "HOW I LOVED YOU ON MARS"] I studied the sky, and I lived off the land. And you were, yes, you were there. How you loved me on Mars. How you wrapped your arms around me in the red light of day, volcanoes of ice and rivers of clay became all afar--

CATHY WURZER: What is that song all about?

LESLIE VINCENT: It's a meditation on loss and re-imagining and reconnection, and ultimately letting go. So as I was putting the album together, I really wanted to experiment with thinking about the course of an evening, starting with that party energy from the "Psychedelic" song. And then this is the penultimate song on the album. And so that late night, 3:00 AM feeling where you don't know what's real and what's not and what's a dream, and kind of that interwoven realities, if you will.

And then I love that song because at the end, it just has this lifting up and this letting go in that, you know, that beautiful way of someone-- you know, love never really dies. When you love someone, that energy is just transformed into other energies. And I like to think that it's just always there with us.

CATHY WURZER: Your voice is stunning, by the way. You've just got this treasure of a voice.


CATHY WURZER: How do you take care of it?

LESLIE VINCENT: I drink a lot of water. I get a lot of sleep. And I'm always in voice lessons. I don't believe in--

CATHY WURZER: Even now? No way.

LESLIE VINCENT: Even now, yes. And recently, I actually thought it'd be fun to study opera because opera has such a different technique. And I thought I could pull some of that into more of my scatting.

And so I recently connected with an opera voice teacher to try to study some stuff, obviously not to audition for the Minnesota Opera. Not going to be an opera singer.

But technique is everything. And that's how you have longevity, and that's what I want. I want a long career. I want years on the stage. And so I just want to find different ways to explore my voice in a healthy way.

CATHY WURZER: It seems as though you get a ton of energy out of being on stage.



LESLIE VINCENT: It's my happy place.

CATHY WURZER: [LAUGHS] That's obvious.


CATHY WURZER: And especially with your musical theater background, too.

LESLIE VINCENT: Yeah, I mean, I just-- I've always loved the stage and storytelling. And so this is-- you know, this is just really another format of storytelling in its own way.

CATHY WURZER: Whenever we have Minnesota artists on our show, we always want to hear about the musicians that are inspiring them. So you were very kind. You sent us a song that is inspiring you right now. Let's play it.

[MUSIC - CAITY GYORGY, "I CAN'T GET STARTED"] I've flown around the world in a plane I've settled revolutions in Spain. The North Pole, I have charted, but can't get started with you.

CATHY WURZER: Oh, wow. Who is this?

LESLIE VINCENT: This is Caity Gyorgy. She's a Canadian singer, and I just think she's gorgeous. I think her phrasing is really beautiful.

I found her on TikTok, actually. She takes jazz instrumental solos and transcribes them and learns them and then performs them, which is mind-blowing to me. And I just-- you can hear that in her little riffs and in a lot of her other work, too, just she has such a command of the music.

CATHY WURZER: Wow. You're right. She has got just a-- her voice is just so clear and so engaging. I love it.

LESLIE VINCENT: I love it, too.

CATHY WURZER: Say, before you go, before we play more of your music, wow, I did not know that you helped organize the Twin Cities Horror Fest.


What the-- what is the overlap there, my friend, in your interest in horror and jazz?


LESLIE VINCENT: Oh, man. I mean, life is expansive, right? There's room for all of it.


LESLIE VINCENT: So in the theater world, I'm very interested in not just musical theater, but all types of theater, started going to the Horror Fest, and I just-- I fell in love with it. And it was really the movie Get Out where I started to think about horror as a genre for me. Before then, I never really-- I just was like, oh, I don't do horror movies. Get Out changed my mind.

My wife is the biggest Stephen King fan, and so now I've read a lot of Stephen King. And then I loved the Horror Fest so much, I became such a fangirl of it, that I ended up joining the board and ran marketing for a season. I don't do it anymore, just because the time commitment, and I'm really trying to not do quite so much. But I love that festival.

If you're listening, and you're a horror fan, happens every October at The Crane Theater in Northeast Minneapolis. And it's so fun. It's just where all horror nerds and lovers and geeks and all-- they all just come together and share space, and it's absolutely magic.

CATHY WURZER: Now, we're going to play one more track from this new album, OK? It's called "Black Coffee."

LESLIE VINCENT: This is a jazz standard. So the album is a mix of standards and originals. So this song was made famous by Peggy Lee. And then this is our band's interpretation of it.

CATHY WURZER: Ah, all right. It has been really a pleasure, Leslie Vincent. Thank you.

LESLIE VINCENT: Thanks, Cathy. I'll talk to you soon.


I'm feeling mighty lonesome. I haven't slept a wink.

CATHY WURZER: Leslie Vincent, Minneapolis jazz and pop singer. I love her voice. You can catch her upcoming album release show Saturday, July 22, at Crooners in Fridley.

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