Portrait of an Artist: Leah Reis-Dennis

Leah Reis-Dennis ’13 is a history and literature concentrator living in Eliot House. A member of the Harvard Opportunes and a soul group called The Nostalgics, she will give her first solo performance of jazz, soul, and R&B standards at the Holyoke Center on April 29.

The Harvard Crimson: When did you first start singing?

Leah Reis-Dennis: I’ve always sung. When I was very little, I used to stand in front of the refrigerator and just make songs out of the words on the different magnets. I was in my first musical when I was 11, and then after that I just fell in love with performing and singing. I started taking lessons when I got to high school, and then everything blew up from there.


THC: Harvard has so many different a cappella groups. What influenced you to choose the Opportunes?

LRD: The Opportunes really struck me at first as a group with really strong female soloists, and [it] was really exciting for me to see those girls get up there and just belt it out. Once I started getting to know the group, the social dynamic and the kind of family that the group fostered was really appealing to me, in addition to the repertoire. I sang a lot of jazz in high school, and as a performer and soloist, I tend to sing a lot of jazz and soul. So I like that the Opportunes gave me a chance to do that, but also gave me a chance to branch out in singing country or more contemporary pop.

THC: What was your favorite piece that you performed with the Opportunes?

LRD: I really loved singing “Wonderful” by Annie Lennox. I’ve worked on that for a while and performed it at the [semifinals of the] International Championship of Collegiate A Capella. ... But on a regular basis my favorite song that we do is “Midnight Train to Georgia” because I just love that song.

THC: Do you plan on continuing your singing after graduation?

LRD: I do, which is a recent decision. I always thought that singing was just a hobby and that I’d probably get a ‘real’ job, which is still a possibility, but more and more I’m realizing that I really love to sing and perform. I feel like I have what it takes to make it, and I’ll regret it if I don’t try. That’s currently my plan after graduation: I’ll go to New York and see what happens.

THC: What kind of singing do you hope to pursue?