An Exeter-raised singer-songwriter is planning a nearly hometown show next month.
Leanne Hoffman, who’s now based in Halifax, will perform May 19 at 8 p.m. at Grog’s Pub and Grill in Port Franks, about a 30-minute drive from where she grew up.
“My aunt actually owns the place, so every time I go home I always play there,” she said.
Hoffman went to South Huron District high school in Exeter, where her mother, a writer, owned a book store.
Her father, an artist, played in bands in college and taught Hoffman to play guitar. Her sister studied musical theatre.
“Everyone was kind of involved in the arts in some way,” she said. “I’ve been really lucky that my parents have been supportive and helpful.”
Hoffman was in school bands but didn’t begin playing her own music until she had left for Halifax to study marine biology at Dalhousie University.
“While I was in my first year, I was spending a lot of time writing and playing music,” she said. “It seemed like a good idea to maybe pursue this thing I was spending all my time doing.”
Hoffman switched to a music arts program at Nova Scotia Community College, where one of her teachers was singer-songwriter Erin Costelo.
“It was a good decision, I think,” Hoffman said.
Costelo hired Hoffman to sing backup for her and produced a six-song EP Hoffman recorded as part of a duo, Magnolia, with guitarist Scott MacLean. Costelo also produced What Remains, Hoffman’s first solo album set to be released May 10.
“She was always very helpful and supportive,” Hoffman said.
Costelo has been releasing music on her own label, Venue Records, and Hoffman is the first other artist signed to it.
“She has this rare ability to sound both incredibly wise while maintaining a youthful vulnerability,” Costelo said in a recent news release. “She will make you laugh and break your heart all in one song.”
Lyrically, the songs on What Remains span the last few years of her life, Hoffman said.
“It talks a lot about mental health, and me, specifically, struggling with my mental health.”
Several songs were written during times when she was struggling, and some were written “on the other side of my mental struggles,” she said.
“Especially on the days I’m not feeling that great, it’s nice to look back and see where I’ve come from.”
There are also songs about what she sees happening in the wider world.
“It’s kind of like a personal, long journal entry about my life for the past five years,” Hoffman said.