The yoga & music connection
How LeAnn Phelan inspires songwriters around the world. By Larry McClain
LeAnn Phelan is an entrepreneur in Nashville, Tennessee – America’s Music City – who has strong family and creative ties to the UK. Her ancestry can be traced back to Ireland and her surname means ‘little wolf’ in Gaelic. She’s also a longtime yoga practitioner and meditator.
Phelan’s LP Creative Therapy (LPCreativeTherapy.com) nurtures aspiring artists and songwriters worldwide, both creatively and spiritually. As the former co-head of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), she’s an expert at helping great songwriters meet equally talented producers. But her workshops and private sessions also focus on the spiritual dimension of creativity. Many well-known songwriters and artists credit Phelan with helping them find the resilience to persevere in an emotionally challenging profession.
She began her musical journey as a backup vocalist for British superstar Steve Winwood, founder of the influential rock band Traffic and a bandmate of Eric Clapton in Blind Faith. “Our 1989 tour culminated with several sold-out shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London,” Phelan recalls. “When I was growing up in the tiny town of Trenton, Tennessee, I never dreamed I’d ever play that iconic concert hall.”
Phelan was always fascinated by the songwriting craft, so she followed her heart to the music publishing world. Over the years, she’s helped guide songwriters and artists ranging from Kings of Leon to Carly Pearce, winner of last year’s Country Music Association award for best female vocalist. Phelan’s introduction to yoga and meditation came at the Deepak Chopra Centre in San Diego, California in 2006. “It was a week-long retreat that included yoga, receiving a mantra and much more,”
“Her workshops and private sessions also focus on the spiritual dimension of creativity. Many wellknown songwriters and artists credit Phelan with helping them find the resilience to persevere in an emotionally challenging profession.”
she says. “And on that same trip, I read the book The Untethered Soul by Michael Alan Singer, which inspired me to dive even deeper into meditation.”
Back in Nashville, she began taking classes from yoga teacher Hilary Lindsay, who was a yoga instructor for the Tennessee Titans NFL football team. She’s also been a longtime student of Gilbert Valenzuela, an instructor at Nashville’s Fahrenheit yoga studio who has received more than 500 hours of yoga teacher training. “I love Gilbert’s energy and the way he weaves music into his classes,” she says. “From the very beginning, yoga has made me feel taller, calmer and more peaceful.”
Phelan launched LP Creative Therapy just as Covid-19 began to spiral out of control in both the US and the UK. The Zoom-based workshops and one-onone sessions soon became a lifeline for songwriters and musicians across the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
She has had a number of UK clients over the years, including songwriter Lewis Fowler from the Cotswolds. He performs with songwriter Isabella (Isi) MaK from Austria under the name Two Ways Home. (And here’s an interesting twist: Lewis Fowler grew up not far from the 300-yearold manor house where Steve Winwood now resides.)
Through Two Ways Home, LeAnn was introduced to her namesake Carmen Phelan from the band Misty River. Carmen Phelan is an Irish-born singer/songwriter/ musician who now resides in England – and she’s the one who explained the origin of their last name.
“When I was singing at the Royal Albert Hall, I couldn’t have imagined that I would one day be nurturing songwriters and artists around the globe,” says Phelan. “But there’s no question that this is my calling. I regularly do two 21-day meditations: one on self-empowerment and another called ‘Desire and Destiny.’ They help me recharge so I can share what I’ve learned with the songwriters and artists I work with. To quote Hall of Fame songwriter Kye Fleming: I keep doing what I love and following the path that lights up before me.”
Larry McClain is a journalist in Nashville, Tennessee who would have loved to meet Ramana Maharshi, India’s most revered sage of the 20th century