Alumnus Jeff LeBlanc '08 Hits the Road with American Idol David Archuleta
It’s been an exciting ending to 2011 for Jeff LeBlanc ’08. Not only did his new album, Worth Holding On To, reach number three on the iTunes Top 200 Singer/Songwriter Chart and number 163 on the iTunes Top 200 Albums chart, but he spent the first few weeks of December opening for David Archuleta’s U.S. tour.
“It’s definitely interesting to spend three weeks on a tour bus with people you’ve just met,” said LeBlanc of his first tour bus experience. “The bus is pretty cool. I’ve driven 30,000 miles this year on my own, so it’s nice to just wake up and find you’re in a new city.” The tour began on the East coast with shows in New York and Pennsylvania, continued through the middle of the country and concluded with shows in California, Utah and Colorado. “The tour was an amazing experience. David, his team and his fans all took me in as a member of their family.”
He attributes his success to his positive attitude and his unwillingness to give up – two traits that were reinforced during his years at Sacred Heart University. Whether he is tweeting Rosie O’Donnell for a guest spot on her show or making a pitch to open on a tour, LeBlanc is always thinking of ways to gain more exposure for his music. “You have to be aggressive and a little bit pushy. You have to believe in yourself and your talent. If I notice that a show doesn’t have an opener, and I think my music is a good fit, I make the phone call to the artist’s agent. What’s the worst thing that can happen?”
The singer, who graduated from SHU with a bachelor’s degree in history and a music history minor and also has an MAT, has opened for such acts as the Goo Goo Dolls and Ingrid Michaelson. In addition, an acoustic version of his song Happier is now playing on the Sirius/XM Coffee House station. The song features Ryan Hommel on lead guitar and was recorded at Carriage House Studios in Stamford, Connecticut.
LeBlanc is self represented and is learning as he goes. For example, when he released his first CD in 2009, he had no experience releasing a record. That meant a slow start for Signals. “This time, I knew I should set a release date and get some buzz going ahead of time. That led to the positive results on the iTunes charts. I now know, if you plug it the right way, it can work,” he said.
He has come a long way from his days playing outside a bakery near his hometown of Center Moriches. “We used to love that gig. There were lots of tourists around, and we made good money,” he said.
LeBlanc said he often wonders if he would be where he is today if he hadn’t attended Sacred Heart. He said his decision came down to Roger Williams University and Sacred Heart. “When I made a final visit to each campus, Sacred Heart seemed to have the vibe that fit me. I was never a big party person, and at Sacred Heart there were always other things to do. I just loved it there, and the bonds I made there are like no other.”
One of those bonds was with Joe Beleznay, a fellow musician and University registrar assistant. The two became good friends and collaborators. One of the songs they wrote together – Until We Get it Right – has been featured on Sirius X/M radio, AOL Music, Clear Channel, iHeartRadio and can be heard in Applebee’s restaurants and other eateries and retail stores.
The admiration is mutual. “In such a short time I’ve watched Jeff grow immensely as a person, musician and songwriter. The hard work and determination he puts into his music is a testament to any aspiring artist,” Beleznay said. “You can build yourself from the ground up, while staying humble and connected to where you came from. He’s the type of guy you really want to root for, and he’s accomplishing huge things on his own terms.”
Stay tuned. We haven’t heard the last from Jeff LeBlanc.