There’s a whole wave of British artists, producers and songwriters who are not only making the Country and Blues world in America sit up and listen, but are actually giving them a run for their Dollars. Enter the latest singer/songwriter to be doing just that, but hands off Nashville, LAURA EVANS is all ours.
And when we say ours, we really mean it. Laura is a South Wales girl through and through, in fact she not only comes from Aberdare, but she wrote a song all about the place she loves so much – more of that shortly.
You may well be looking at Laura thinking – ‘I know her off the telly’ and you’d be absolutely right. She became a well-known television and Hollywood actress before she started her recording career, although we think music is her secret passion. While her London contemporaries found parts in West End shows, Laura was offered an opportunity to head to Los Angeles to explore her potential as a film actress.
“In London I’d been working in an off-licence for extra cash, doing promotional work (leafleting) on the streets and singing on stage whenever and wherever I could. But when the opportunity of Hollywood came up, I trusted my feelings and left the U.K. I followed my nose instead of my heart, it was a pragmatic decision to take hold of my career and to see where events took me.”
Laura landed a phenomenally successful character-part in a popular children’s television show, and this led to acting opportunities in films. Yes, that TV show was indeed Basil Brush. You can take a look at her in the show RIGHT HERE.
But it’s the music we want to talk about, because she is really good at that, and we’ve been playing her songs on our radio station for the last few days.
As usual with these things, especially here in Wales, you can trace a child’s love of singing back through the family, and Laura is no exception. She shared the stage alongside her aunt and uncle at the age of five. They toured show-songs around venues near her hometown of Aberdare.
“I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life… to sing my heart out to large audiences.”
Her first solo performance was to a crowd of 500 at a charity show, aged ten.
Dad and Mom sang in Welsh choirs, so church music made a significant impact, and she grew up listening to the Motown, soul, and pop choices of her parents. In her school days, she discovered Bonnie Raitt, Eagles & Dolly Parton. Proper songs written by proper songwriters, who put every heartfelt emotion into the lyrics, which is precisely what Laura does.
We’ll tell you more about her life shortly but I think it’s time we heard from her Laura herself.
SOUTH WALES LIFE spoke to her recently, socially distanced of course. She was at home in London and we were in the office. We chatted about her songs, writing, touring and Nashville. First though it had to be Aberdare. You can take the girl out of South Wales but you can never remove the Welsh accent from her voice.
Her song writing career began seriously after a relationship in California ended abruptly. After the consequent heartbreak, she wrote a complete 7-song extended-play about her feelings. They aren’t very nice personally, but professionally for a singer, break ups are incredible.
And so we got her first album of country-blues and soulful compositions, “Remember When” came out in 2014. The songs we’re focused on the painful breakup with the former “film director boyfriend.” The featured song, “What’s Left of Me ” co-written with Brett Detar (The Juliana Theory) was, she says, the first “proper” song she’d ever written.
“We drove up to the hills for a song-writing session, and I knew I wanted to write a real heart-breaking number about someone breaking another person in two and someone else picking up the pieces of a fragile mind.”
“I remember that through the cathartic process of song-composition, I learned about expressing honesty, melody, not settling for messy lyrics and exploring specific messages.”
That same year Laura got the chance to contribute a piece of music to the popular reality show “Party Down South” created by Jersey Shore executive producer SallyAnn Salsano. The popular T.V. show depicted eight adults put together in a “Southern” house during the summer to: “Party it up like real country folk…” Her song-credit on this high-rating show gave her credibility and exposure. At about this time she decided to make Nashville her home.
“I remember thinking that people in Nashville have a humility about them that we also find in Wales, an enviable honesty; it’s like egos are pushed aside so people can focus on making music.”
“I recall I was invited to The Bluebird Café (the famous country music venue) by songwriter Jeff Cohen. He and I wrote “Out of the Blue” on a Tuesday, and he asked me to perform it the very next day at The Bluebird. I recollect that I had to write out the lyrics by hand and lay them on the floor to read – that’s how fresh our song was and how friendly and unassuming the City can be to a newcomer.”
And here is that very (debut) performance at The Bluebird Café.
Due to visa restrictions, Laura came back to the U.K. in 2016. She supported THE SHIRES on tour, just as a newly invigorated country music scene exploded in Britain. The following year she appeared on stage at the Country to Country music festival at the 02 Arena in London. We were at that event and it was a fantastic showcase, and really the place to be seen and heard.
“I had been to Nashville, and it was nice to be back home, and here I was, on the same bill as Reba McEntire — it was a full-circle moment.”
Her fabulous single, “Heartstrings” came out last year. It is such a lovely song, and you can listen to it here HEARTSTRINGS.
Then in May “Running Back to You” was recorded at Momentum Studios in Plymouth with Josiah J Manning (Keyboardist and Music Producer for Kris Barras Band). For us, this is what Laura does best.
You’ve heard the song during our interview, we guarantee once you’ve listened all the way through, it’ll be in your head like the very best ear worm.
Finally, what does Laura think the qualities are for a country-soul-blues performer (apart from being Welsh/Aberdare that is)?
“The message must be persuasive. And there’s nothing wrong with being pretty and blonde, but sometimes sitting outside the box is where it’s at! That’s why I like to sneak in a little Brandi Carlile or Maren Morris into performances: something that bites, something that inspires… something with real female emotion, and something sacrificial.”
“I also believe it is important to be proud of one’s vocation & mission as a popular singer, to be an honest interpreter of feelings. And to bring a touch of glamour. A music artist doesn’t have to be overly glitzy, but she does have to be honest — we should be in the business of enticing people to the show-stage – we should be transporting audiences to loftier idylls.
I grew up watching my aunt and uncle doing backstage costume changes in Welsh nightclubs, for heaven’s sake! I learnt, at an early age, that the public wants charisma and they expect a performer to bring pizzazz. That’s what I am determined to bring…”
And we think she does all of that, and more. We are currently playing her songs on our radio station, you can either listen here or download the free App from your favourite store. To keep in touch with Laura and see what she’s up to now, just go here LAURA