August 8, 2018

ENDEARING STUDIOS photo
Upper Keys singer and songwriter Leah Sutter finds musical inspiration in the islands where she was born.

ENDEARING STUDIOS photo Upper Keys singer and songwriter Leah Sutter finds musical inspiration in the islands where she was born.

ISLAMORADA — Palm fronds rustling in an ocean breeze remind singer and songwriter Leah Sutter why she remains true to the islands where she was born.

“This is home, and I’m here doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” said Sutter. “When I come back over Jewfish Creek Bridge, I know it’s taking me home so I feel a breath of relief. I can relax. It happens every time.”

An accomplished musician on guitar and piano, Sutter’s folk-tinged acoustic vocals delight audiences at Upper Keys bistros, community festivals, weddings and events.

“I do a lot of different things with my music,” said Sutter, now 25. “Even when I do covers, I still try to make it sound like Leah.”

Her overall repertoire of songs numbers “more than 100, maybe closer to 200,” she laughed. “This is my full-time job. I’ve been very blessed with opportunities. My goal is to keep writing enough of my own songs for an album.”

During her appearances, Sutter enjoys mixing in 10 to 15 of her own originals like “On the Radio,” “A Better Man” and “The Right Time” into sets of music familiar to the audience.

She lists Nora Jones, Alanis Morissette, Fleetwood Mac, Joanie Mitchell and the Beatles as influences.

While attending Florida State University, Leah and the Aviators — a college band comprising fellow Coral Shores High School graduates — completed the album “Air Ride,” available on amazon.com, Spotify and iTunes.

“The Keys are a wonderful place to grow up but after graduating from Coral Shores, I thought I was ready for something different,” Sutter said. “When people found out where I’m from, they were fascinated and wanted to come visit. They asked if we ride our Jet Skis to work. I had to tell them, no, we drive cars like everybody else.

“That helped me realize what a beautiful place this is, and what a great community,” she said. “After performing at different restaurants and spots, I’ve met people who worked their whole lives just to be able to spend a couple of months in paradise. I thought I knew the Keys but now it makes me want to stay here even more.

“I was a kid in the Keys and now I’m back as an adult. Those are two very different things. The last two years have been kind of a self-discovery search for my real identity. I want to keep writing and experimenting with music to find what I want to sound like.”

Leah credits the entire Sutter family — parents John and Michele along with three older siblings, all supportive — with making music a big part of their lives. “Mom basically did what I’m doing now,” she said, “and Dad has played forever.”

Upcoming appearances this summer include 6 to 9 p.m. performances Wednesdays at the Green Turtle Inn and Thursdays at Kaiyo, both in Islamorada; and weekends at the Lazy Lobster in Key Largo. She also has occasional performances at the Lobster Crawl Bar and Grill at Fiesta Key RV Resort, and Florida Keys Brewing Co. in Islamorada.

For inquiries about scheduling for weddings or events, see her website at leahsuttermusic.com.

kwadlow@keysnews.com