Loyola vocalist learns self-love through music


Violet Bucaro

Rocky Leonard singing at a performance.

Violet Bucaro, Copy Editor/Staff Writer/Photographer

Loyola vocalist learns self-love through music

“Music is healing”

Loyola popular and commercial music senior and vocalist Rocky Leonard said music was one of the only ways she was able to recover after being in an unhealthy relationship, and learn that her “voice deserves to be heard.”

“My creative process is very free and meditative. I am always inspired by things. I am always writing and jotting things down. I will sit down with my piano. I’ll come in with one idea, and it will completely change, which is good. It’s very open,” Leonard said.

Leonard said her goal is to increase opportunities for others to sing and feel safe.

Leonard began releasing her solo music in 2021.

“Putting out music has totally changed my perspective of myself,” she said. “I used to downplay who I was. Everyone else saw this big influential person, but I was just doing what I wanted to do. I learned to trust my voice and learned how influential I am.”

Having grown up with a religious background in Houston, Texas, Leonard said she is significantly influenced by gospel music.

Leonard explained how her mother was recording an album for their church while she was pregnant with her.

“It’s in my blood,” she said.

Leonard is a part of two groups at Loyola called Zahria Sims Collective and Medicinal Harmony.

Zahria Sims Collective started in Leonard’s first year after sharing a class with former Loyola music industry studies saxophonist Zahria Sims.

“The way we connected was unheard of and kind of random. I’m thankful for them,” Leonard said.

Leonard said Zahria Sims Collective’s music is inspired by indie-pop, neo-soul, and R&B. The collective often performs cover songs from artists such as Herbie Hancock and Carl Carlton, as well as original music.

Leonard said her other musical endeavor, Medicinal Harmony, has given her a safe place to heal.

The music collective is composed of “medicinal musicians in full alignment with highest purpose,” according to their website.

Professor of Vocal Artistry at Loyola and founder of Medicinal Harmony, Elizabeth Dellinger, or Saint Mercedes, said the collective is not an industry endeavor.

“It’s about healing, intentional co-creating, and embodying the highest beauty with our sound frequencies,” Mercedes said.

The collective formed amidst the return of in-person lessons, where Leonard said it was a “sacred” place to sing.

“During these private vocal lessons, transformative levels of expression were exchanged. I pulled everyone together in a room to form a therapeutic sing-your-whole-face-out session,” Mercedes said.

The collective’s sound is “soulful, lush, multi-vibrational, healing,” according to Mercedes.

Medicinal Harmony has performed at Essence Fest and has also accomplished a monthly residency at the Royal Frenchman Hotel.

“We are each artists with original projects. MH is a live, living performance offering rather than a recording project,” Mercedes said.

Leonard said the collective is not a permanent group of individuals, but that the musicians change fluidly.

“It’s a music family,” Leonard said.

Leonard said she hopes her music inspires people to begin their own self love journey.

“I think we glamorize self love and water it down to getting your nails done and dressing nice, but it’s much more. It’s self discipline. It’s setting hard boundaries with those you love,” Leonard said.