Every few weeks you can find a crowd of Purchase College students in the Food Co-Op waiting to sing along with singer-songwriter, Leila Hegazy.
The sophomore majoring in studio composition from Staten Island says she chose to come to Purchase instead of her number one choice, Berklee College of Music, because it was the smartest financial decision. She says that it’s great because the campus is friendly and she gets to do what she loves.
Hegazy’s singing began when she was a child. “I enjoyed singing as a kid. I made up songs in the shower.” She smiles. “I sang about glue and crayons and teddy bears. I also enjoyed singing in front of people.”
In elementary school, she began to learn how to read music and took interest in learning how to play the clarinet. Her teacher told her she played the instrument the wrong way and she quit because she liked playing it the wrong way—it was her own way.
Hegazy was 10-years-old when she began to practice the piano. Six months into playing, she decided to combine her piano playing with her singing.
“I wanted to sing, not just read notes,” she says. “After combining the two, it felt weird doing one without the other. It was my comfort zone.”
Throughout her life, Hegazy has come across many musical influences, her earliest being Celine Dion. She also admires Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder.
“I’m influenced by artists who write their own stuff,” she says. “But I like listening to many people, many styles, not just one. I want to be different. My music isn’t influenced by just one source.”
Hegazy doesn’t like labeling her music but she says that it would probably fall under the pop genre.
Before the year ends, she is hoping to have her first EP produced. Joseph Ferry, the Chair of Studio Production, is producing Hegazy’s EP.
“Joe Ferry is what really sold me,” Hegazy says. “He’s a great person. To me, he’s like a father figure.”
Ferry says that he has been working with Hegazy since August. He found out about her through one of his students, arts management major, Jeff Levin.
Levin currently works with Atlantic Records and Ferry describes him as a “talent scout.” Hegazy caught Levin’s eye last year when he was a judge for the Battle of the Bands final and brought her to Ferry’s attention.
“I took the project because Jeff said it was something that he wanted me to produce,” Ferry says. “He said it was something that will definitely work out.”
Ferry also mentions how the two went about the long but rewarding process.
“Normally what I produce is live in the studio, but not with Leila,” Ferry says. “With Leila, we weren’t sure which instruments we wanted to use and which approach we wanted to take. So we tried the overdub route. It worked and we were all comfortable with it.”
Ferry says that he and Hegazy did everything in stages. “We played the piano to the click track first, then I put my bass parts down, then the drums, then the guitars went down,” he says. “We got the vocals after that and finally, the strings.” He says that the EP will be ready within the next couple of weeks.
“I remember the first time I heard something that Leila wrote herself,” says arts management sophomore, Krytal Rollins. “It was so beautiful. Leila is really great at what she does. Her by herself with the piano, it’s amazing. She’s really humble and honest and she performs the same way.”