BY PEARL RUNNING DEER
Music is an important part of movies and TV shows. The music rhythm enhances what you see, and enjoy. One of the most important parts of Dressage is the music. Without the rhythm, the partnership between the horse and rider doesn’t have as big of an impact. It’s the same in movies and television shows.
Lately, western TV shows are making an impression on viewers. Enter Lance and Lea, a country music duo. Both are avid horse lovers and use them in their videos. Texas native, Lance Kotara, and Colorado native, LeAnna Kaufman, enjoy life and bring joy and love to the world. It was no surprise the two songwriters would find each other in Nashville, forming the duo Lance and Lea.
Their first album “There Goes My Heart,” was produced Grammy award-winning producer, Paul Worley, and released in late 2018. Their music has garnered airplay in the UK, Ireland, and Music City, Nashville Tennessee. The duo already has an award under their belt, winning “New Artist Of The Year” at the 2019 iHeart Radio Rocky Mountain Country Music Awards in Colorado. “There Goes My Heart” was also nominated for Album Of The Year at the 2020 iHeart Radio RMCMA’s.
In 2020, the duo raised over $16K on a fan-funded crowdfunding campaign for their album “Great Big World” which was released in early 2021. That same year, in the middle of a pandemic, they booked a 31-date Backyard PopUp Tour all over the US covering 26 states & over 12,000 miles in an effort to bring love and live music back to the people. In 2021, they completed an 80-date, four-month-long Summer Tour, playing to even more fans across the US. They traveled in a vintage RV aka “The Honeybee” and put on 24,000 miles through 38 states.
The duo is set to release their first single off the new album “Songs From The Road” in July 2022 with a 50 date Summer tour kicking off as well. We had a great chat about horses and country music.
How long have you been singing together?
10 years! Hard to believe it’s been 10 years already. Time flies when you’re having fun!
How long have you been riding? Did you ever show?
I, Lea have been riding pretty much my whole life. Growing up on a ranch in Colorado and also working for several ranches growing up gave me quite a bit of time in the saddle. I loved it. My dad also had a deep love for horses. He boarded/trained horses when I was a kid so I think it was just instilled in me from a young age. I never showed, although I always thought it would be super cool! Lance grew up in Texas, so he was around horses some, but didn’t really grow up riding. But ever since riding horses in Arizona last year, he’s been obsessed.
I find ranches, locations, and riders for film, TV, and Music videos. What ranch did you use for your video and why?
We shot all the horse and ranch footage at a ranch in Tucson, AZ called The White Stallion Ranch. We chose that ranch because it most accurately looked like what we pictured in our minds for this video. We wanted it to feel wild, untamed, free, and a bit rugged. The ranch was even more perfect than we imagined. Breathtaking views at every turn, the friendliest people, and of course stunning horses.
What inspired you to write a beautiful song like Tumbleweed?
Tumbleweed was written about the feeling we get when we’re on the road, especially when we’re on the road out west. It’s a freedom you can’t describe. Almost like you’re a bit untethered from the rest of the world. We spend almost half the year on the road touring, so it’s a feeling we’ve honestly gotten kind of addicted to.
How do horses help with your country western music?
Horses remind me of my roots. It’s not just the horses, it’s the lifestyle that goes along with it. It’s hard work. It’s long slow days watching the sunset from the back of a horse, listening to Chris LeDoux coming through some old rusty pickup speakers. It’s dirty and thrilling, dusty and peaceful. It’s family and friends and looking people in the eye and a handshake that you’d bet your life on. That’s what so much of country and western music is about and really for me, it’s about everyday life. How I grew up. For Lance, it’s the same. Even though he didn’t grow up around horses as much, he grew up with the same values. Our core values are the same and I think that’s why we work so well together.
I understand you are both available to do songs for movies and TV.
Yes absolutely! We would love to get our music into film/television.
Pearl Running Deer was the first Native American who rode on the circuit in the 80’s-2002. Her trainer was Maurice Honig from the French Equestrian team. She would follow Frank Chapot or Bert De Nemethy teachings. In the 2003-13 she was a high fashion model at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in NYC. At the same time, she was working with film directors, as a ”Girl Friday” and continues with the film industry today. Ms. Running Deer teaches riding, coaching at horse shows, and gives clinics.