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Maggie Monaghan holding a guitar. May 5th, 2023


The annual LEAF Singer-Songwriter Competition, now in its ninth year, will take place at Spring LEAF Retreat, in Black Mountain, N.C., on Saturday, May 13, 2023. Eight singer-songwriters have been selected from across the country to showcase, compete, and network at the competition.


Maggie Monaghan is an indie-folk singer-songwriter from Wellesley, MA. She is currently a rising senior at Wesleyan University in CT where she leads weekly open mics and is working on a musical. She began songwriting in high school, and it quickly became one of her biggest passions. She released her first single in May of 2022—and another last month—and is currently working to record and release an EP. Some of her top musical influences are Noah Kahan, Mt. Joy, St. Terrible, and Lizzy McAlpine.

NewSong Music: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?

Maggie Monaghan: To someone who has never heard my music before, I would describe it as an intersection of the Indie-Folk and singer-songwriter genres. I am a huge lyrics person when I listen to music, so that is one of the areas of my songwriting that I would say has grown the most over time. I grew up playing piano, so I write a lot of music on piano but have recently picked up the guitar as well. I feel like guitar has definitely helped me lean even further into the folky elements of my songs throughout the writing and production process.

What is the first album you bought, and why?

The first album I ever bought was Elton John’s Greatest Hits because my dad used to have a CD of the album in his car, and I remember countless car rides from soccer games or school, blasting “Tiny Dancer” and “Crocodile Rock.” My dad has always been one of my biggest fans; in high school, I spent hours at the piano every week, singing and playing, and he would sit on the stairs behind me and just listen. He is relentlessly supportive of my dreams in music, and it always feels special to share that passion together.

What is one influence on your music that might surprise us?

Rainbow Kitten Surprise has been one of my top artists for the past four years. Some of their songs definitely trend in a more Indie direction, but a lot of their music is pretty alt. rock, which is why they may be a surprise as far as an influence for my music. Hearing about how they write some of their songs has been fascinating and inspired a lot of my music. Some songs of theirs have only two chords and yet such intricate and funky melodies. I remember first getting into them and being blown away by their lyrics, which have since inspired my approach to writing. Many of their lyrics could mean so many different things, and that act of interpretation is something I love about listening to their music. Their lyrics, tight harmonies, and instrumentals work together to convey such a specific vibe for each of their songs, and this cohesion—out of so many different, simultaneous instrumental elements—is something I admire. During my gap year, I spent a lot of time in my makeshift recording studio (a closet in our attic) on GarageBand making mash-ups, my favorite being an RKS-Maggie Rogers one.

What projects are you currently working on?

Since October, I have been working to record an EP with Pace Ferro, who owns Pharaoh Recording Studios in Plainville, CT, and Julian Sherwood, who is an incredible Indie artist and instrumentalist.  I am always writing and playing music, whether I am walking to class, at golf practice, or listening to music.  I am also currently working on a musical about the environment and colonialism; the plot takes place in a McDonald’s-esque fast food chain restaurant, and one of the main characters is a naturalist from the 1700s, back from the dead.  During the fall semester, I started weekly open mics with two friends at school and have been working to build that community since.  Getting to see the variety of talent that people show up with, week after week—as well as getting to meet and collaborate with so many new people—has been a highlight of my year.