Diane Leah is anything but your average “church organ lady,” as anyone who’s seen this curly haired dynamo thundering upon the Metropolitan Community Church grand piano every Sunday can attest. But even they might be surprised how unexpected and unplanned her weekly gig originally was.
“I’ve gone through some peculiar routes to get here,” Leah says. “Before this I had no church background at all. My first partner and I worked in a band together for 17 years. When she died of breast cancer in 1990, I thought, am I going to be able to do this? She was so tied up in the music for me. So I became an accountant for six years.”
It was actor/director Frank Ruffo who tempted Leah back into the business, bringing her in as music director for the annual Fruit Cocktail benefit. It was a difficult decision. “I hadn’t written anything since Angela died. But I said yes, and that was the end of that. I quit my day gig and came back to music.”
When the MCC called in 1999, Leah stepped in temporarily to prepare a Pride musical program. Fourteen years later, she’s still there — and couldn’t be happier.
“It’s not any old church, the MCC,” she laughs. “It’s like the show that never closes. But it’s like my family day. I sit in the sanctuary and play the piano, and it’s like being in my living room.”
Leah still keeps busy outside the church, working with stars like Louise Pitre on her one-woman show On the Rocks (see event listing at the bottom of the page), as well as her recent work as part of the Broadsway trio. Leah’s quarterly Two of Kind duet series continues this September with Sterling Jarvis and Broadsway compadre Heather Bambrick, as well as a special Christmas concert with Thom Allison.
It’s all quite a change from her rock and roll days, and the irony isn’t lost on Leah. She can’t help but smile when she looks back on her earlier life. “I’m sure Angela looks down on me every Sunday morning and giggles at seeing me awake so early in the day.”