by Jane Roser
Singer/songwriter Laura Reed’s musical background is eclectic and adventurous. Hailing from South Africa, Reed spent her childhood surrounded by the influences of African music, as well as her parent’s love of Motown. Though all of that influenced the music she plays today, it was an Earth, Wind and Fire concert Reed attended when she was a teenager that really lit a fire under her.
“In high school I spent all my money going to concerts and I remember seeing Earth, Wind and Fire when I was 13 or 14 years old and that really inspired me,” recalls Reed. “There were 13 people on stage and these incredible vocals and harmonies. I thought that’s what I want to do, that’s the kind of band I want to start.”
A multi-instrumentalist in every sense of the word, Reed rocks blues harmonica, piano, rhythm guitar and percussion. Plus, after her family moved to North Carolina, she was immersed in the mountain music culture of the Carolinas and picked up the banjo for a little while. Talk about diversity.
Playing open mics and coffee shops around North Carolina, New Orleans and beyond during her early years, Reed eventually became the front woman for Laura Reed and Deep Pocket, touring the U.S. relentlessly. Now focusing on her debut solo album, The Awakening, which will be released this fall, Reed had the opportunity to work with several talented people including producer Shannon Sanders (India.Arie, Johnny Lang, John Legend) to make the dream a reality.
“I spent three years working on this record, six months of it was just writing and demo’ing. Shannon was really more interested in finding a unique sound and there was a lot of development on this album, even before we started recording anything,” says Reed. “It was three months in before we even recorded vocals, then we spent a year tracking it. We got members of the National Symphony to play all the strings, which was cool, but we really took our time with it. We like to say that we slow-cooked the music, but we wanted it to be one concise project that had a common thread going through it.”
Reed and Sanders co-wrote and recorded several songs, then chose the ten best to be included on the album. One song that has already received some major attention is “Wake Up”. The Sr. Vice President at Sony, Wende Crowley, took a liking to this particular song and offered to send it out to some contacts.
“She came back and said that VH1 wanted to use the song in the hit show Hollywood Exes,” says Reed. “Then soon after I heard there was an independent film called The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete that Alicia Keys was involved with (she scored the music and was the executive producer). They wanted to use a snippet of “Wake Up” for the film. I grew up listening to Alicia Keys and I look up to her, so for her to have personally chosen my song is just a great affirmation and honor.”
Recently moving to Nashville and signing with EMI/SONY-ATV, Reed is currently touring and writing new music with songwriter Patryk Larney. She was also just nominated for Best Female R&B Artist at the 8th Annual Nashville Independent Music Awards which will take place on August 24th.
In support of The Awakening‘s release, Reed will be doing a series of album release shows, including one for her hometown fans on August 22nd in Raleigh, with the official album release show taking place in Nashville at 12th and Porter on October 3rd.
“The band playing with me at these shows are the musicians from the record. Shannon will be playing keys and he’s putting together a really heavy-hitting horn and rhythm section, so those shows will be pretty powerful,” says Reed.
They’re also putting together some sweet VIP packages for fans, including gift bags with goodies that tie into The Awakening theme, VIP seating and meet and greets, so these album release shows will be very special and unique if you are lucky enough to snag a ticket to one.
Reed just signed with Madison House Booking and will be touring this fall, perhaps to a venue near you. So get a good night’s sleep and wake up to some of the most beautiful music you’ve heard this year. Maybe you’ll experience your own awakening.