Local News

Bill Leslie: A father's memory, a lifetime of music and art

Posted June 28, 2018 7:00 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:18 a.m. EDT

— Bill Leslie is a painter of musical landscapes and an anchor of television news. In his last week at WRAL, we are celebrating that.

"In television, I'm an extrovert," said Bill. "In music, I'm more of an introvert. I look inside and see what's there."

Bill is successful in both passions -- he has released eight solo CDs that have all reached either number one or two on the world music charts. His Scotland: Grace of the Wild album was the world radio album of the year in 2013.

The following year, Bill traveled to Ireland. "My family came over around 1680," Bill said. "When I went there I knew it was a part of me."

He brought his camera with him, and the pictures Bill took stirred the music within him. "I kind of just listened to the voice and let the voice speak to me, and that voice pretty much wrote the music," Bill said.

Bill Leslie through the years

Growing up in Morganton, Bill taught himself how to play music.

"What I'd do, I'd sit in the stairwell of our house. I had a cheap little Sears guitar, and I would pluck away and play. I kinda liked the way it sounded."

Bill Leslie

Then something tragic happened -- his father suffered an aneurysm when Bill was 16. "I never had a chance to say goodbye to him, and that has haunted me for years," said Bill.

In 2008, Bill composed an album and a book in memory of his father, William Leslie. Mr. Leslie was an artist who traveled the back roads of western North Carolina, sketching and painting beautiful vistas and colorful mountain characters.

"My father was my best friend, so it was very traumatic for me to lose him," said Bill. "It affected me profoundly."

See more of Bill's music on his farewell page.