Boys Band Together for Autism Research

By Greeneiew, Joan | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Boys Band Together for Autism Research


Greeneiew, Joan, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Combining musical talent with a knack for creating lyrics about the trials and tribulations of being a pre-teen, JEZ -- a band of rockers who still are in elementary school -- is selling compact discs of their songs to raise money for Autism Speaks, an organization that funds research on the disorder.

Two brothers -- Jake Leya, 10, and Zack Leya, 9 -- and their cousin, Eric Leya, 10, all of Hampton, are donating the money raised from the sale of their CDs in honor of Jake and Zack's cousin, Tony Michaca, 9, also of Hampton, who has autism.

Following the lead of the young brothers' father, Chris, who has a self-described "garage band," the boys decided to form a rock band in January after Zack began taking guitar lessons. Jake already had been taking drum lessons for two years. Because he didn't play an instrument, Eric took on the coveted role of leader singer.

The young rockers came up with the name JEZ by using the first initials of their first names. Eric and Zack wrote lyrics and composed music for five original songs during a weekend sleepover.

"It was amazing," said Jake and Zack's mother, Amy Leya. "They went up to their room one weekend and came up with the songs."

Chris Leya recorded the songs and created a CD, which the boys titled "JEZ: Unedited & Unrevised."

"We were blown away by it all," said Chris, who jams with his brothers-in-law in a band he describes as "a bunch of 40-year old guys just fooling around." "Over time, the boys have heard us play a lot, and I guess we kind of inspired them."

Realizing the boys couldn't sell their CD for profit, Amy Leya suggested they sell copies for $2 each to raise money for autism research. …

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