CITYWIDE — Leena Culhane, a 24-year-old Santa Monica resident is about to release her latest album entitled “The Reckoning” and she is hoping to tap into the arts-loving local community for support.
Culhane moved to Santa Monica from Fairfax, a town just north of San Francisco. She said the community was a great place to develop as a musician due to its welcoming nature.
“It’s hugely supportive of live music and the creative community in general,” she said. “It provided an amazing nest for me as a young person and artist.”
She moved to attend UCLA and has found Santa Monica to be a place of inspiration.
“On an elemental level, there are so many things I love about living near the ocean,” she said. “Just having the space to walk and swim and breathe helps me clear my head and make room for creativity. The sense of community here is also crucial to feeling part of a collective and connecting to an audience of neighbors and friends. I feel a movement into mindfulness here, whether it’s frequenting my favorite yoga classes or finding a sustainable, fairly-traded cup of coffee with great ease. For me, making music is about connecting to myself and others, and I think Santa Monica is a pretty conducive environment for those efforts.”
The move also brought about a change in her music, allowing her to focus on her own style.
“I grew up playing in other people’s bands – rock bands, cover bands, pop bands, and eventually, writing for my own band,” she said. “When I moved, that turned into more of a solo project, though I kept up the community aspect of making music while singing with an acapella group called Awaken (former home of Sara Bareilles).”
She describes her style as “music you can be friends with” and said her sound is acoustically driven. “I mainly play piano and guitar, and I take time writing lyrics that resonate with my experience and those I witness of others,” she said. “It’s become much more of a discipline for me than it used to be.”
Culhane will hold a release party for her album on Aug. 29 at a private residence in Santa Monica. She said interested listeners could contact her at leenaculhane@yahoo.com to RSVP. Following the release, she will embark on a trip to play in Austin and Nashville. She said her hope is that the local community will relate to her music and translate that into support for the arts at large.
“I think supporting the arts in general is key in making artists feel that their work is valued and important,” she said. “When one of us succeeds, it’s a win for all of us. Keeping and creating programs and spaces for people (from elementary school students to professionals) to make, showcase, and experiment with their work is what inspires me to keep going. It’s so awesome when people come to shows, bring their friends, and help spread the word.”
A preview of the album, can be found on her website, www.leenaculhane.com.

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