Leon Rosen was raised at Project Artaud, a hippy artists commune in San Francisco’s Mission District. He attended San Francisco High School of the Arts.
In his teens, he was mentored by jazz luminaries Herbie Lewis and Sonny Simmons. At 19 Leon Rosen wrote the music for the “Ishtar” opera, performed at Burning Man Festival before the full festival audience. He moved to New York City to study composition with Niel Waltzer & attend The New School Jazz and Contemporary Music Program. He also toured the west coast with the left wing political theater troupe San Francisco Mime Troupe during summer break.
After music school, he moved to Jerusalem, Israel, participating in “Jerusalem Peacemakers,” an organization devoted to conversation, equity and reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. There, met Nissim Barouch, a vocal coach who would change his life.
“I saw Nissim four times a week. Before then, people said I couldn’t sing. I gave up on my songs. I left my apartment, slept on friends couches, parks, benches ... so I could spend all my piano teaching money on my voice lessons.”
He moved back to the USA briefly staying in Eugene, OR where he met drummer Rachel Zisette. They played shows and ended up carpooling to San Francisco where they continued to perform. A bit later, Leon performed at the Leaf songwriters festival where guitarist/vocalist Lee Jean Jr was performing fresh off his time at American Idol.
After returning to San Francisco, Leon immersed himself in the indie scene, recording Let Me Cool EP at Tiny Telephone (Death Cab, Sleater Kinney, John Vanderslice). He had the record mixed at Fantasy Studios, where he met then intern Cody Hamilton, who was to become a main engineer at Fantasy and eventually Leon's producer.
In 2018 Rosen released “Grieving Friend of a Superman” a single from Let Me Cool. Drawing on an stop-motion music video by Japhy Riddle it reached a combined 400k streams. He followed this up with “Then Again,” in 2020 and “Café Dogs” in 2022 which also earned similar attention, while building unreleased content to pitch to indie labels.
In 2023 Leon Rosen formed a touring band of his favorite collaborators over the years. Carter Yasutake on Keyboards & Trumpet, Rachel Zisette on Drums, Lee Jean Jr on guitar and Sarah Cramer on bass. A 30-city US tour begins from Sept 20 to Nov 19. A Precious Despair, his 13 song debut album is in the works.