Music Spotlight: Onoleigh

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Onoleigh is a Nashville singer-songwriter from Mohomet, Illinois, outside Champaign. Growing up, she was involved in her school band and choir. She sang in musicals and variety shows and even won a talent contest.

But her goal in life was always to help others. That is why she studied to become a school counselor.

When Onoleigh first came to Nashville as a visitor, she stood onstage at her very first honky-tonk, and she sang Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight,” where she discovered a newfound sense of confidence and comfort.

After graduating from college, she got a job at a Missouri Middle School. She recalled, “I was constantly telling [my students] to pursue their dreams, do the thing that scares them the most. And I was like, oh my gosh, I need to be doing what scares me the most. I’m a hypocrite.”

Since she was still very young, she decided to pick up and move to Nashville. She knew the worst-case scenario could be: “It doesn’t work out. I have come back; I have stories to tell about it. At least I tried.”

Because she has such an empathetic soul, songwriting comes naturally for Onoleigh. While she has tremendous respect for country music and the history of the town when she creates music, she does what feels good at the time, and hopefully, it meets people where they are.

She said, “Instead of feeling an emotion for someone, I feel it with them. I want to make people feel secure, understood, and inspired, and that’s what ultimately led me to Nashville.”

Her sound blurs the lines between genres, blending Americana, rootsy rock & roll, and empowered country music. It’s a sound that has led to collaborations with John Oates (Hall & Oates), Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift), and producer Brandon Hood (Sam Hunt, Rascal Flatts).

Besides being a powerhouse vocalist, Onoleigh shows her vulnerability and resilience with original songs like “Ghost Stories,” “Beautifully Broken,” and “Make it Hurt.

Filmed at The Underground in Nashville, Onoleigh gets fun and flirty with “Why Can’t We Dance.” The summer anthem is about going out and just having fun. It was featured by CMT, ET OnlineCelebMix,  Guitar Girl Magazine, and Women of Country and hailed as “creative brilliance” (CelebMix) and “more than just a song” (Guitar Girl). Onoleigh enlisted Nashville’s Millennium Dance Company and celebrity Choreographer Richy Mon to pull together an unforgettable dance party and music video for the song. It will have you moving and shaking before the tune ends.

Now, with a few years of experience under her belt, she has released a song that she wrote just for herself, “Tightrope.” “Tightrope” was co-written by Onoleigh and Kenny Foster, about finding balance in life while pursuing dreams. The recorded track features Onoleigh’s soulful voice with harmonies from co-writer Kenny Foster.

With the lyrics On this tightrope/ Inching through the unknown/ Sifting through what you’ve been told/ Still living fore you get too old/ Holding on to high hopes/ For what’s behind this blindfold/ Pray you’re on the right road/ So you ain’t hanging from this tightrope Onoleigh wades in deep as she lets her sequestered thoughts surface as if she were gasping for air.

She wrote the song a few years back.

“I remember the day Kenny and I wrote ‘Tightrope.’ He asked me if this was a song I wanted to write or needed to write. It quite literally changed the way I approach songwriting,” the singer said.

She added, “Following a dream feels a lot like walking a tightrope…it is absolutely not comfortable, it’s terrifying and exhausting most of the time, but the thrill of following something bigger than yourself is worth risking it all for.”

Since being in Nashville, Onoleigh has found a mentor in Oates from the iconic Hall and Oates, a popular duo before she was born.

“He has a strong musicianship and has been really great to bounce ideas off of,” she said.

They even co-wrote a song, song Sunshine & Lemonade, that was placed in the movie, Gringa.

Also, she recently opened for Chris Janson at the Mohomet Music Festival to her hometown crowd. She explained, “It was the day before my 26th birthday, so it was crazy, and we had this nice little party. Chris is the sweetest thing. And his energy on stage. It’s exhilarating to be around.”

The singer/songwriter takes cues from these musical icons as she has created an energy that is all her own.

Onoleigh has been “writing her butt off” to put out a whole EP and/or record.

She explained, “I am honored to be surrounded by people who are better than me. I want to learn, soak it all in.”

Once again, I am thrilled to witness the talent and tell the story of another rising female singer/songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. It is a privilege to watch young artists as they climb to the top and peer over the edge to see what’s next. These people are history makers as they continue to paint the canvas with their music, which becomes our lives’ backdrop.

Onoleigh’s ethereal “Tightrope” is an integral part of that vivid landscape. Keep holding onto your high hopes, girl! You are on the right road.

Onoleigh performs in Nashville every Friday night at the Virgin Hotel Patio.

You can follow Onoleigh on her websiteInstagramFacebookTikTokYouTube, and all streaming platforms.

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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blog, Instagram, Threads, and X (Twitter).




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