2023 Impact 50: Leslie Cohea
Head of Global Touring
Orchestrating The Judds’ “Final Tour” would be enough to put Leslie Cohea on this year’s Impact 50 list. But the Head Of Global Touring of Sandbox Entertainment also took Kacey Musgraves into massive arenas, then stewarding her global “Oh, What A World Tour” and Little Big Town’s yearlong Ryman Auditorium residency.
Currently building Grammy-nominee and multiple CMA Award winner Kelsea Ballerini into a hard-ticket headliner, Cohea believes strength comes from building sales and a meaningful anchor concept. Her success at The Messina Group with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s “Soul2Soul: The World Tour” led über-manager Jason Owen to tap her as Head of Touring at Sandbox Entertainment in 2015, overseeing all routing, budgeting and logistics.
She rose to GM in 2019, overseeing all strategy, touring and finance for a roster that includes Hill, Musgraves, LBT, Ballerini, Midland and Dan + Shay. But it was her passion for touring and events that inspired Owens to create Sandbox Live. Recognizing that touring after COVID requires an adaptive approach, she moved Ballerini towards concrete headlining status with shorter tours, including a sold-out stop at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre, and tactical support as the opening act on Kenny Chesney’s 2023 “I Go Back Tour.”
As she says, “One of the challenges is restraint going back out. There are so many shows on any given night, which is great. But I want our live dates to be impactful. I’d rather take two steps back for three steps forward. Going into smaller, more iconic venues that sell out is important. Fans are getting a different experience, connecting with the music in a more intimate way. That connection is important.”
As for her personal highlight of the past year, “I could not have been happier when we put up the first 10 shows, and they immediately sold out, because I grew up loving The Judds. Then to see how everyone showed up for Wynonna (post-Naomi’s death) was overwhelming. To see Wynonna the first night is a moment I’ll never forget.”