is a Christian rock band from Baytown, Texas. The band was formed in 2004, although lead singer Leeland Mooring had been writing songs beforehand. Leeland is composed of Leeland Mooring (lead vocals, guitar), Jack Mooring (backing vocals, keyboards), Casey Moore (guitar), Shelly Roberts (bass, backing vocals) and Mike Smith (drums). The band's original line-up included Jeremiah Wood, who left the band in late 2006 and was replaced by guitarist Matt Campbell in late spring of 2007.Leeland has released four studio albums, receiving a Grammy Award nomination and two Dove Award nominations for their debut album Sound of Melodies
(2006). The band's third album, Love Is on the Move
, was released on August 25, 2009.Leeland's fourth studio album, The Great Awakening
, was released on September 20, 2011, and received a nomination to the 54th Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.FormationLead singer Leeland Mooring wrote his first song, "Shine," at the age of 11. After giving a successful performance of the song at a church in Illinois, the Mooring family began touring the United States. When he was 14, Mooring entered into Embassy Music’s Ultimate Talent Search contest in Nashville, Tennessee, becoming a finalist in the songwriting and artist divisions. Although he did not win the competition, one of the contest's judges, Kent Coley (now the band's manager) took interest in the young teen. A year later, Eddie DeGarmo, President of EMI CMG Publishing, also expressed interest in Mooring, and the two signed a songwriting contract on EMI/Capitol Music Group. Less than a year later, Leeland Mooring, his older brother Jack Mooring, their cousin Jake Holtz, and friends Jeremiah Wood and Mike Smith, whom the Moorings had known for several years, officially signed as a band onto Essential Records, a subsidiary of Sony BMG's Provident Label Group. The five members began practicing at night after youth group in their church's building, which doubled as a funeral home. Leeland Mooring's first name was used as the band's name because the members said that "it sounded cool".
Sound of Melodies
Leeland began recording for their debut release, Sound of Melodies
, in 2005, with Matt Bronleewe, Marc Byrd, and Steve Hindalong producing the album. It was released in the USA on August 15, 2006. At the 49th Grammy Awards on December 7, 2006, the album was nominated for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album. In 2007 the band received five GMA Dove Award nominations, including "New Artist of the Year" and two nominations for their debut album Sound of Melodies
. The album was also released in Japan on March 21, 2007, with the title song, "Sound of Melodies," peaking at No. 6 on the general Japan radio chart.The band has worked closely with Christian music legend Michael W. Smith, who remarked, "Leeland is the best thing I have heard in a long, long time". Leeland Mooring co-wrote six songs on Smith's album Stand
, and wrote one song by himself. Jack Mooring married Smith's daughter Whitney Smith-Mooring on June 1, 2007.After four years as a member of Leeland, Jeremiah Wood left the band in October 2006 to pursue other endeavors. Austin Tirado was hired as a temporary guitar player until February 2007. In February, Matt Campbell was hired as a temporary guitarist; he was added as an official band member after three months.
Leeland's second studio album, Opposite Way
, was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee. In November 2007, the band announced that the album would release on February 26, 2008. Lead singer Leeland Mooring commented, "[Opposite Way
\] is primarily a call to our generation to passionately walk the 'opposite way' from the world, that it’s OK to live the Christian life and to be on fire for God, even if it makes us look different." In its debut week of release, Opposite Way
peaked at No. 72 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, and also reached No. 1 on the iTunes Christian Albums chart. Starting in September 2007, Leeland began touring with Grammy Award-winning band Casting Crowns on their The Altar and the Door
tour. The tour continued until May 1, 2008, and was named the "highest-grossing Christian tour of the year" touring through 83 cities.The band's song "Tears of the Saints" from their debut album received two Dove Award nominations in 2008. Lead singer Leeland Mooring was nominated for "Songwriter of the Year" and co-writer of the song "Be Lifted High" with Michael W. Smith. Their song "Brighter Days," from the Opposite Way
album, was featured in the June 22, 2008, episode of the television show Army Wives
. The show's music supervisor, Frankie Pine, commented, "We thought the use of 'Brighter Days' in this episode of Army Wives
was moving, and was the perfect fit for what we were looking for". The song was also featured on the soundtrack of Fireproof
, a film featuring actor Kirk Cameron.In December 2008, the band's Opposite Way
album was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.
Love Is on the Move
Leeland's third studio album, titled Love Is on the Move
, was released on August 25, 2009, in the United States. The album's lead single "Follow You", which includes vocals from singer-songwriter Brandon Heath, was released to Christian radio on August 7. In September, the band will launch their "Follow You" Tour, co-headlining with Brandon Heath and featuring Francesca Battistelli as an opening act.This, Leeland's third studio album, will probably once again draw comparisons with the likes of Keane and Coldplay. Infused with hope, haunting melodies are mixed with Britpop influenced rock. Having said this however, their American roots come across in a bunch of anthemic choruses. Where Leeland separate themselves from mainstream suitors is with bold proclamations of their faith and the elements of worship they weave into their music. Pianos, strings and guitars blend skilfully in crafted tunes that showcase Leeland Mooring's writing skills. Definite progression from early recordings can be heard as the band have developed and matured. The overarching theme of the tracks is a call to put faith into action.The title cut being a perfect example, it includes the line, "Love is on the move, revealing heaven's truth". A similar theme is picked up on "Follow You" where Brandon Heath guests. Elements of worship in their music remind me of a youthful Telecast as they challenge the listener into action. Leeland blend melancholy with joy to produce a brand of power pop that is most accessible.In early 2011, only a few months before the release of their fourth studio album, bassist Jake Holtz left the band to pursue a career with the US Army.
The Great Awakening
Leeland's fourth studio album, The Great Awakening
, was released on September 20, 2011.
Leeland's musical style has been defined as "alternative CCM" and "progressive rock". The band's songs have been defined as "melodic" with "Brit pop/rock" influences, being compared to Coldplay, Keane, Travis and U2.Their first album, Sound of Melodies
, has been described as "sometimes worshipful, always melodic". Leeland's style moved in a more rock direction with their second album Opposite Way
. Allmusic reviewer Jared Johnson noted that the band "cemented their sound by creating electrifying walls of guitar" with their second release, having the same "energetic and melodic" sound as their first album. Of their third album Love is on the Move
, Christian youth magazine StreetBrand said the album shows "just how much they have matured musically as a group, creatively as songwriters and spiritually as a band with a penchant for God-pleasing worship."