Laurie Sings A Song For You
When you’re born with music in your soul and a song in your heart, life becomes a song, or rather, a series of songs wanting to be sung. I grew up lying beside the stereo singing along for hours and enjoying the music and lyrics of The Mamas and the Papas and Peter, Paul and Mary. I developed a love for 60s folk music as I tuned into the depth and emotion of the songs and lyrics. Karen Carpenter and the music of the Carpenters has had the greatest influence throughout my life. I came into the world with a passion to sing and, because my dad was a musician, I am grateful that I was given the opportunity and encouragement to focus on my talent and follow my musical calling. As a child, I recall riding my purple-banana-seat bike and roller skating with my shiny white skates through the streets of Moraga, filled with sunshine and song.
“My theater friends encouraged me, and I began brainstorming ideas and songs."
As my connection to Karen Carpenter’s music grew, so did my awareness that I have a very deep connection to the emotional element of music. I have been blessed with the gift of empathy and ability, through my sensitivity, to connect and express the message and emotion through music. Sharing in this way often provides an inspirational experience for people, and this is why I appreciate story songs with strong messages. I love people to feel the music.
Over the years, I’ve experienced an array of musical accomplishments, yet in my younger years, I allowed distractions to prevent me from stepping into the fullness of my dream. Self-sabotage, anxiety, fear, and insecurity provided the perfect narrative to keep my musical dreams on the periphery of my life. My journey has been full and glorious, sharing music in a variety of ways, raising three daughters, diving into various careers, and going back to school to earn a degree in theology. As my two older daughters went off to college, I began to feel a little restless, and a deep desire to do something impactful began to emerge within me. I knew it was time to use all the stepping stones along the way to finally embrace my big dream wanting to surface. I was working with a voice teacher at the time who suggested I consider a one-woman show. After all, my musical dreams still lived inside of me. My theater friends encouraged me, and I began brainstorming ideas and songs. I started by simply writing down the names of people and songs that inspired me.
The deep connection and impact of Karen Carpenter’s music was continuous in my stream of thoughts. One friend shared with me that she felt I embody the essence of Karen Carpenter. I knew the Carpenters’ music had made such an impression in my life, and it excited me to imagine how I could incorporate this musical inspiration to share my own story of encouragement and empowerment. The next step would be to organize the stories of my life, and my dear friend and accomplished writer Don Huntington came alongside me for the task. We met for weekly coffee meetings, sorting and sifting through my memories and life’s current events. Don was instrumental in interpreting my words and helping me to present my life in written form. This was the beginning of “Laurie Sings A Song For You” A Cabaret Concert Inspired by the Music of Karen Carpenter. As I reflected on my life, I realized that my heartaches and regrets led me to life lessons and triumphs. It was clear that this message of hope and inspiration was placed on my heart to share with others through Karen’s music.
Doubts arise as doubts will. I wondered if my story would benefit anyone, after all, I didn’t have a near-death experience or any tremendous life-changing moment in time. What I began to remember were the wise words of my high school principal, who spoke with conviction to my graduating class. He said that life would be difficult, but he encouraged us to always come back to the purpose God has for each of us. It brought me to a knowing that my story of overcoming the dark experiences of my life, acknowledging what more I was to learn, and celebrating the joys were all a part of my healing journey and message to share. I reflected on one of my earlier memories, feeling the confirmation of my purpose.
During a switch to a new high school, I had found myself singing in the chapel choir. I became aware that when I am singing, there’s a spiritual connection where I feel God’s presence. No matter what life brings, my gift is my song, and my purpose is to share love and inspiration through my story and music. My story is about not giving up, embracing the idea that it’s never too late to learn something new, and empowering others to step into their purpose and passion. I’ve learned that authenticity is the gateway for touching and impacting lives. Ultimately, it is universal to experience the darkness in life as well as the light. When we are willing to share the real parts of ourselves, we make ourselves available to be used for a higher purpose, and it creates a space for others to connect.
Raising my three daughters, one set of twins, gave me practice in metaphorically wearing a myriad of hats and juggling many projects. This ability has come in handy as I have embarked on my dream and stepped into my purpose. There are many moving parts to a production, and the evolution of my one-woman show has required my ability to consider new ideas, lean into flexibility, and follow my intuition. There are so many pieces to this show that have serendipitously aligned. My cast is a divine combination of incredible talents. My director, Rachel Robinson, possesses wisdom and vision beyond her years. My musical director, Brett Strader, is an extraordinarily talented musician, pianist, and composer, offering insights and exceptional cohesiveness of music and flow. The concert cabaret showcases four remarkable backup singers, Anita Colotto, Stephanie Hill, Clarisse Nichole, and my daughter, Charlotte Jeffries. My daughter’s participation in the show is truly a wonderful gift for me. The sensational combo band of three, Roberta Drake on drums, Pat Tinling on bass, and pianist and composer, Brett Strader come together as a melody of musical magic. At the start, I had not included supporting singers, but after several read throughs, Rachel and I realized that this would greatly enhance the quality of the cabaret. It’s a learning process to create a show, and I am grateful for a brilliant team of people supporting my mission.
“When you’re born with music in your soul and a song in your heart, life becomes a song.”
“Laurie Sings A Song For You” A Cabaret Concert Inspired by the Music of Karen Carpenter is a show for everyone.
I’ve always marveled at how Karen Carpenter was a virtuoso on the drums. I, on the other hand, am not a drummer by any definition; however, my goal was to fully step into Karen’s spirit of drumming and demonstrate that we can learn new things at any point in life. I decided to dedicate myself to learning the drums for one song in the show. Playing the drums is one of those musical talents that can appear effortless and easy. This is simply not so! I can attest to the time, coordination, concentration, and so much more that successful drumming entails. It wasn’t easy, but I did it, and I am proud of myself for taking on the endeavor. One of the messages of my show is that it is never too late to learn something new and to never give up. I wanted to fully embody this message, and learning to play the drums certainly brought me into connection with Karen and reminded me that embracing new things in life brings joy.
The cabaret had come together beautifully, and the show was ready to open in April 2020. As we’re all well aware, life shifted rapidly in those early spring days of 2020. Theaters would no longer be occupied for an unforeseen amount of time. Initially, I felt disappointed in the delay, but over the last 18 months, I see that it was all by perfect design. Due to the delays of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were offered time to consider valuable additions to the production. These additions, such as adding supporting vocals, have strengthened the overall experience of the show. I am able to clearly see that the delay was meant to be, and the first showings were destined to be at the Lesher Center for the Arts in November 2021. I am thrilled about the way this perfect timing unfolded.
Over the years, I have participated in various benefits for important organizations like Hospice of the East Bay and Kaleidoscope. It brings me great joy to sing for others and share a beautiful experience as well as raise funds for important causes. Supporting others has been a priority throughout my life. My intention is to support people in finding their road to experiencing the best life they can lead. It is the desire of my heart to make an impact. I envision taking my show on the road and discovering new opportunities to give back to communities and organizations.
“Laurie Sings A Song For You” A Cabaret Concert Inspired by the Music of Karen Carpenter is a show for everyone. It’s a message of overcoming life’s challenges, celebrating life’s joys, and empowering each individual to create the life of their dreams. I believe that God can make a way for every person to fulfill their divine purpose in life, and my hope is that I can be a small part of inspiring that journey.
For tickets call 925-943-7469 or visit www.lesherartscenter.org.
Photos By Kirsten Lara Getchell and Provided