Confucius said, “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”
And really, who doesn’t like music? It triggers memories, calms your nerves, changes your mood, and scientists suggest that music can make you smarter. What’s more, upward of 28 million people in the United States play an instrument, according to statista.com — and odds are good that many of them have dreams of performing in front of a crowd.
So, fess up. If you’ve ever wanted to be a rock star, raise your hand.
Eli Lieb raised both arms when we asked our August 2016 cover boy about his journey to music stardom.
“Defying all the odds of being an independent musician has been tough,” he admits. “You’re basically told that you will never make it. To believe in yourself and not listen to anyone else’s opinion can be very challenging. You really have to be resourceful and figure out how to compete on a shoestring budget with people who have millions backing them. But this challenge can also be greatly satisfying if you actually do start to achieve significant success.”
Eli Lieb is an American pop singer and songwriter. Hailing from Fairfield, Iowa, he began his musical journey in New York City, where he started working on his songwriting and performing.
Lieb released a debut solo album in 2011 and was soon featured in US Weekly, Out, and other national publications.
When his father died in 2012, Lieb took a sabbatical and returned to Iowa. During this time of reflection and regrouping, Lieb began recording covers of songs that were popular and meaningful to him and releasing them on YouTube, where the videos soon picked up a natural, organic following.
With a growing fan base, Lieb once again turned to his own songwriting. In 2013, he went to Los Angeles to work with other writers for few weeks and further his career. The weeks-long trip turned into a relocation.
Since then, he has collaborated with artists, writers, and producers, including Adam Lambert, Cheyenne Jackson, Hey Violet, Laura Marano, Forever In Your Mind, John Feldmann, Simon Wilcox, Crystal Bowersox, and Stacy Jones. He was even featured in the 2014 Grammy Awards during the presentation of nominees for Best Pop Vocal Album.
In July 2013, Lieb released his original song “Young Love.” Music blog Idolator called it “an instantly catchy, uplifting pop/rock anthem that sounds like a cross between Katy Perry and Bruce Springsteen.”
The song’s theme was a bit of an autobiographical story of a young man coming out as gay. The song and the video struck a chord with many people, thanks to its instantly catchy pop hook and the message of being proud of who you are. Within a year, Lieb’s “Young Love” garnered more than 2 million YouTube views.
Later that same year, Lieb was inspired to record a cover of Wrecking Ball after hearing it only once. He recorded an acoustic version with just his voice and a lap dulcimer. Within two hours of posting it online, it went viral and was promoted in social media by singers Lambert and Lucy Hale, and celebrities Rosie O’Donnell and Bob Harper. Lieb once again received immediate press support, appearing on CBS’ “The Insider” (formerly “omg! Insider”) twice, YouTube’s “What’s Trending,” and other shows. Lieb’s cover of “Wrecking Ball” reached a million views in under a week, and in less than a year, the video had been viewed more than 3 million times.
When Lieb was approached by the Leo Burnett advertising agency to write an original song for Allstate Insurance’s #OutHoldingHands campaign, he wrote a song called “Safe in My Hands” that accompanies an animated short film of the same name. Released in June 2014, the song and a dance remix are both available on allstate.com/lgbt. The feeling and message of the song got the attention of the producers of ABC Family’s “The Fosters,” where it was featured as the closing song for the second season finale.
With more than 30 million YouTube views, and verified status on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, his personal interaction and presence as an independent artist keep him moving forward.
Be Inkandescent magazine asks a dozen questions of musical phenomenon Eli Lieb. Enjoy! — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be Inkandescent, 2016
Be Inkandescent: Tell us about the first moment you remember knowing that you wanted to be a musician.
Eli Lieb: I remember when I was 16, I picked up my brother’s guitar, sat on my bedroom floor, and taught myself how to play. As quickly as I learned guitar, I started writing songs.
Be Inkandescent: Did you think you’d make it as a professional?
Eli Lieb: Actually, yes. I have such a deep connection to music that I knew it was going to be the thing I would do for a living. I’ve never had a “plan B.”
Be Inkandescent: What was the moment when you knew you had “made it”?
Eli Lieb: Well, I don’t really know if you ever have those moments. For me it’s been such a gradual incline over the years that I don’t really think I can pinpoint a specific moment. It’s been a series of great moments that keep on allowing me to do what i do.
Be Inkandescent: What do you consider your greatest success to date?
Eli Lieb: I honestly think it’s seeing how much I have helped people in their lives. I have always been very open about who I am, and I think that has given a lot of people the strength to do the same. It’s a part of my career that I never saw coming, but has been the most gratifying.
Be Inkandescent: What have some of your biggest challenges been?
Eli Lieb: Defying all the odds of being an independent musician. You’re basically told that you will never make it. So to believe in yourself and not listen to people’s opinions can be very challenging. And in general, being independent is much more of a challenge. You don’t have the resources or money that a major company has and can offer. You really have to be resourceful and figure out how to compete on a shoestring budget with people who have millions backing them. But this challenge can also be greatly satisfying if you actually do start to achieve significant success.
Be Inkandescent: Much of your work is in the LGBT community. Tell us about that passion, and some of your big successes in this area.
Eli Lieb: I wouldn’t as much call it a passion as it is just who I am. I have always been a very big advocate for living your life as authentically as you can and never being afraid of who you are. I feel fortunate that I have created a big enough platform to be able to affect the LGBT community in that way. I’ve never shied away from my sexuality, and I’m glad that makes others feel more confident with theirs. I’d say my biggest success on the LGBT side of things would have to be my campaign with Allstate Insurance. They approached me about teaming up for a campaign showing their support to the LGBT community. I wrote a song for the commercial and was also in it. So, I became the face and voice of that campaign.
Be Inkandescent: You also were approached by the Leo Burnett advertising agency to write an original song for Allstate Insurance’s #OutHoldingHands campaign. You wrote a song called “Safe in My Hands” that accompanies an animated short film of the same name that was released in June 2014. Tell us about that experience.
Eli Lieb: Funny, I didn’t know the next question was about Allstate! It was a great experience. Allstate really knew what they wanted and I’m glad I was able to give them that. It was wonderful being a part of an LGBT campaign on such a big platform. We spent quite a lot of time developing it to get it to the place where it really was a manifestation of their initial idea.
Be Inkandescent: What would you advise young kids to do if they aspire to grow up to become professional musicians?
Eli Lieb: Always, always be authentic and never create something only to be the way you think someone else wants it. All great pieces of art always come from a place of authenticity, where you are making it because you love creating, not because you are trying to please someone.
Be Inkandescent: What suggestions do you have for teens and adults who are hoping to break into the music business?
Eli Lieb: I think you really need to understand that you are going to have to be as much a businessperson as you are a musician. I can’t stress enough how important understanding that is. There are so many talented musicians in the world trying to make it, but a lot fewer who really understand how smart you have to be about it all and really look at yourself as a business.
Be Inkandescent: Who is your role model in the music industry?
Eli Lieb: Honestly, it was a friend of mine who has become a very successful writer. I continue to learn so much from her. She has really helped me understand so much about songwriting that I never understood before.
Be Inkandescent: You also have been meditating for much of your life and, in fact, worked with the David Lynch Foundation to promote the Transcendental Meditation (TM for short) movement. Tell us about this practice, and what it does to help keep you centered and grounded.
Eli Lieb: I’ve been doing TM since since I was 5 years old. Was born into it, but that’s usually around the youngest age they teach you. It’s really the backbone of who I am and how I live my life. It just connects you deeper to yourself and makes you have a better understanding of the things that really matter. It has helped with my creative life, my personal life, everything.
Be Inkandescent: What are your big dreams and goals for the future?
Eli Lieb: My main goal is just always to be able to create and sustain a happy existence. I’m truly not doing this for fame or praise. I just want to be happy and fulfilled.
The fixity of a habit is generally in direct proportion to its absurdity.”
The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. The greatest failure is to not try.”
Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies
A truly forgiving person is someone who experiences all the anger merited by injustice and still acts with fairness and compassion.”
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
William Butler Yeats
I’ve come to confirm that one’s title, even that of president, says little about how well one’s life has been led. No matter how much you’ve done, or how successful you’ve been, there’s always more to do, to learn, and to achieve.”
Are you willing to help other people succeed even when it’s not a requirement of your job to be of assistance?”
If you want to be busy, keep trying to be perfect. If you want to be happy, focus on making a difference.”
Lisa Earle McLeod
You’ve got to be willing to crash and burn. If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”
The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”
Nolan Bushnell, founder, Chuck E. Cheese's
The best reason to start an organization is to create a product or service to make the world a better place.”
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.”
With ordinary talents and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.”
Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton
Let us seize the day and the opportunity and strive for that greatness of spirit that measures life not by its disappointments but by its possibilities.”
W.E.B. Du Bois
Do not say, ‘why were the former days better than these,’ for it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”
Everyone is a mirror image of yourself—your own thinking coming back at you.”
We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
Find somebody to be successful for. Raise their hopes. Think of their needs.”
You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
We never know how high we are till we are called to rise; And then, if we are true to plan, Our statures touch the skies.”
I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.”
John D. Rockefeller
Never never never never give up.”
Don’t follow, lead. Don’t copy, create. Don’t start, finish. Don’t sit still, move. Don’t fit in, stand out. Don’t sit quietly, speak up. (Not all the time, sure, but more often.)”
Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost.”
Robert H. Schuller
Some things are destined to be—it just takes us a couple of tries
to get there.”
J.R. Ward, Lover Mine
Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which obstacles vanish.”
John Quincy Adams
Do not be afraid of mistakes, providing you do not make the same one twice.”
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
I don’t do very well without fear. There needs to be a part of me saying, ‘That’s going to fail,’ so I can prove myself wrong.”
Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe
If it really was a no-brainer to make it on your own in business there’d be millions of no-brained, harebrained individuals quitting their day jobs.”
Bill Rancic, "The Apprentice"
Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”
The follow-your-gut mentality of the entrepreneur has the potential to take you anywhere you want to go or run you right out of business.”
Bill Rancic, "The Apprentice"
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams
Why am I whispering when I have something to say?”
By your stumbling the world is perfected.”
My task is really not to change myself but to become familiar with who I am.”
Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make Me Feel Important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”
Mary Kay Ash
If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.”
Entrepreneurs willingly assume responsibility for the success or failure of a venture and are answerable for all its facets.”
As each woman realizes her power, she transforms the world.”
Patrice Wynne, WomanSpirit Sourcebook
If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”
The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something.”
Nolan Bushnell, founder, Chuck E. Cheese's
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
The dove descending breaks the air / With flame of inkandescent terror.”
A people who mean to be their Governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
Treat the attainment of happiness in the same way an entrepreneur would approach building a business — with a vision, plan, goals, and a systematic approach.”
Success is the necessary misfortune of life, but it is only to the very unfortunate that it comes early.”
Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.”
Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones
The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen.”
“There’s no such thing as having too much fun,” insists author, singer, and entrepreneur Kathi Kamen Goldmark — the woman who in 1991 founded the infamous writer rock band, the Rock Bottom Remainders. “Fun is good for you. So get out there and start playing.”
Tiffany Miranda’s Girls Make Beats empowers girls 7 and up to make it in the music industry by exposing them to DJs, producers, and audio engineers at seminars, summer camp, and networking events. Go Tiffany!
David Bruce Smith’s Grateful American™ Foundation is proud to release the official music video for its new project, Grateful American™ Kids: “Grateful American™ Kids Rock!,” which stars 30 students from The Steward School in Richmond, VA.