Carissa Leigh

Carissa Leigh

It's a magical time for country newcomer Carissa Leigh: the Canada native has a new single, "Bad Boy," her first release in the U.S. "I'm one of those people that if I see an opportunity, I go for it," she tells Billboard. "Music has always been something I have loved and enjoyed."

Growing up north of the border, Leigh quickly brings up two fellow Canadians when speaking of her influences. "Of course, there was Terri Clark and Shania Twain. I was also raised on good ol' traditional country music and southern rock by my grandfather and my dad. I feel that has a big influence on what I like to listen to, and my sound."

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Making the move to Nashville in 2013 really helped the singer focus on the creative process, she says. "What really inspired me was going to the writers' rounds, and writing with people, It's been such an amazing learning opportunity. I think being around that has definitely elevated my stage presence and my songwriting. Being around that many talented people has really been a blessing for me."

Leigh says that the spicy current single has made quite the impact with her audience as of late, and she was pumped to write the song with two of Nashville's hottest tunesmiths, Marty Dodson and Andrew Fromm. "We were asking the age-old question of 'What do women want?' It turned out to be something really cool, so we rolled with it."

So, can she give the male demographic any advice on that age old question? She laughs and says it's all relative. "It's going to be different for every woman, unfortunately. I wish I could give you some kind of formula, but I think every woman wants a guy who is going to treat her well -- but not be too predictable. You have to find that balance."

Leigh got to work with Kristin Barlowe on the video for the song, and said working with the woman behind videos from artists such as Martina McBride and Luke Bryan was an experience she won't soon forget. "She is not only an amazing director, but an incredible person. It was so much fun working with her. She really knows how to bring out the best in someone like me who doesn't act. She did a great job in making me feel natural, because I didn't feel natural at all," she joked.

The word "Natural" can have a lot of different meanings for Leigh, as she has enjoyed quite the career background so far – from studying Tahitian dance and anthropology, as well as a stint in sports broadcasting. "I have grown up loving sports my whole life. My brother is an amazing hockey player, and I grew up watching. I also did a minor in music. So, I incorporated all of what I love into my degree."

Carissa Leigh counts herself very much blessed to be in the position she is in – with a great team around her that was responsible for the development of some of the format's most successful artists – such as the Dixie Chicks. "The guys who have played on my album are some of the most amazing musicians – not just in country music, but music period. My producer is amazing, and everyone involved in the project carries a lot of weight. So, to have people like that believing in me is an honor. I feel like I'm onto something."

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