In 2020, the Best of Toledo Awards saw just how beloved a part of the area’s music scene the Amelia Airharts are. The group was recognized as both Best Original Band and Best Cover Band by City Paper voters. It’s a rare honor for a group to garner just one of these awards, let alone both in the same year.
Specializing in a mix of rock, funk, and soul music, the group’s collection of talents has been wowing the people of Toledo for nearly half a decade. The band consists of five people all skilled in the art of wowing spectators on a stage; Megan Lesle-Heer on lead guitar and backup vocals, Cari Langenderfer on guitar and vocals, Kelsey Rodriguez as lead vocalist, Dave Cerelli on bass, and Brad Billmaier on drums. The band has already released one full album, Long Hair Up, and is currently working on a second to be released at a later date.
Megan and Cari launched the band after meeting in Toledo. Megan explains, “(We) actually started the band as a duo, and we’ve been playing music for about five years now. We’ve been a full band for about three.” The pair met while playing music with other bands around town, where they discovered their shared appreciation for similar types of music.
When the time came to choose a name for the band, the two women focused on their admiration and appreciation for strong-willed and fiercely independent women of history, such as Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20, 1932. “She was setting out to do something that no woman had done before, and I always sort of looked up to her as a role model.” Megan relates.
In fact, it may surprise people to know that Amelia Earhart has a connection to Toledo, specifically the Hillcrest Hotel (now the Hillcrest Apartments) where she led a plan to paint an arrow on the roof of the building to help guide pilots toward the local airfield.
Inspiration for the Amelia Airharts comes from everything and everyone in the band members’ worlds, and the songwriting process can see an idea be pulled out of the ether without warning.
“ A lot of the time, Cari will get a new idea for a song and she’ll voice-memo real quick, and when we get together to practice, we’ll pull things that jump out at us from those ideas and kind of just start from there. One of our songs was inspired by the color red,” Megan said.
The Amelia Airharts are well in demand throughout the entire region, especially over the summer when the love for concerts has been at an all time high, after enduring the lockdown during 2020.
Members of the band look forward to new events, adding a little extra spice to their already busy lives. The group encourages fans to come and see the show and then to stick around and say ‘hi’. Summer may be drawing to a close, but there’s always great music to look forward to and for the people who love local bands and local music, it doesn’t get much closer to home than The Amelia Airharts.