A Conversation with Brittany Leonard and Ryan Greenwood, aka the Bandmembers of Seraphina James

Brittany Leonard, 24, and Ryan Greenwood, 23, comprise the band, Seraphina James. Both from Massachusetts, Brittany grew up in North Reading and Ryan grew up in Waltham. They both live in their hometowns, but now that they’re singing, they come to Boston more often.

Brittany and Ryan started dating before they became a band, having met about a year ago at a UMass hockey game and discovering their mutual interest in music by playing together. Ryan had already been in a band, and Brittany had been singing and writing songs since the sixth grade. Together they got their first gig playing in the basement of a library. 

Brittany and Ryan write songs together, as well as play covers at their live performances. They both have some music background from college, as Brittany studied piano and songwriting at Berklee for a year and Ryan studied sound recording at UMass Lowell. 

“I like singing because it lets me tell my story with other people,” Brittany said. “It gives me a voice and everyone validates where I’ve been and where I come from, but that’s coming from the songwriting side.”

Brittany was always interested in music because it was her passion, but she found that she was better off at Merrimack College, where she studied Spanish and human development. 

Brittany is now both working at and in graduate school at Lesley University, studying music therapy. When she finishes her master’s, Brittany hopes to work in a hospital singing with children or with elderly dementia patients. Ryan, who recently completed an internship at Wellspring Studio, is looking for a job. 

The singing duo’s name, Seraphina James, comes from both of their middle names. They are working on Brittany’s demo CD as well as their first CD together. Brittany says she draws huge musical influence from Taylor Swift, who inspired her by writing her own songs. Ryan draws from Donald Fagen of Steely Dan and the band Jamiroquai.

They do their recording on their own because Ryan has a lot of equipment and is knowledgeable about sound recording from his undergraduate studies. They also record at UMass Lowell’s studio with other musicians. Once everything is recorded, they mix and master the sound themselves. 

“I sing because I like having created something,” Ryan said. “I don’t really do it so other people can say that I’m good at it or anything. When I write a song the end goal is to have a recording.”

Brittany just released her first song, “It’s Always Been You,” on iTunes about a month or two ago. She wrote this song two years ago while going through a breakup and imagining a hypothetical perfect relationship. She believes she found the person she described in the song through Ryan. 

The duo is releasing songs and singing regularly, but they still remember how they started and offer some advice for aspiring singer-songwriters. 

“Just get out there and do it,” Ryan said. “A lot of times you’re gonna be playing to nobody, but you just gotta do it. Along the way you’ll figure out, maybe I should do more of this and less of this. It’s really a feeling-out process but you gotta get started and don’t be nervous because you really have nothing to lose."

“Don’t sit back on your dreams because it is totally possible to land those gigs and follow your path of where you want to be,” Brittany advised. “I definitely took a break from it and was a little discouraged at some points in my life until I was so proactive about it, I was like, ‘I’m doing this, I’m gonna get out there,’ and it’s just been amazing.”


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Cover photo courtesy of Brittany Leonard.