Solo Musician Interview: Evelyn Laurie

Evelyn Laurie Photo

Tell me about yourself?
I’m a Paisley buddy, have been singing as long as I can remember. My first stage appearance was at a talent show in Arbroath, aged 4 when I sang ‘When Irish eyes are smiling’ (I didn’t win!).

Became quite shy in later years so used to sing in choirs till around 14 years ago when I attended a workshop on vocal jazz, run by Scotland’s ‘Jazz Grandmummy’ Fionna Duncan.

It was a great opportunity to ‘find your own voice’ and also to work with some amazing musicians. I got hooked! Attended more workshops with lots of great singers and teachers and then started doing little gigs, then bigger, paid, gigs.

What Instrument(s) do you play, if any? And how long have you been playing your respective instruments(s)?
Sadly, I don’t play any instruments but am privileged to work with some wonderful players.

Who are your biggest influences?
My tastes in music are quite eclectic. My first influences were all the great singer songwriters – Joni Mitchell, John Martyn, James Taylor, Carole King. Later on I got into singers like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Horn, Frank Sinatra. I also love horn players like Miles Davis and Chet Baker (also a wonderful singer). But I also love Led Zeppelin and opera!

What song(s) do you remember most from your childhood?
Mum used to listen to Mario Lanza and Jim Reeves and loved Hollywood musicals. Dad liked Elvis and they both liked American Country – which perhaps explains my varied tastes! And of course, my party piece as mentioned above, ‘When Irish eyes are smiling’!

Do you perform covers and if so what’s your go to?
Since I’m mostly singing in the jazz genre, I do a lot of the standards from ‘The Great American Songbook’. I do like to bring some non-jazz numbers in too, though, with numbers like ‘Wichita Lineman’ and ‘Who knows where the time goes’ that are both on my debut album.

I recently did Marc Almond’s ‘Say hello, wave goodbye’ at a couple of gigs which went down well!

Do you have a process for writing your songs?
I’ve been composing ‘little ditties’ for years. It’s only in recent times that I’ve started taking my songwriting more seriously. I find that a bit of a song and a tune will come to me out of the blue, often out walking or in the bath. But then there’s nothing for it but to sit down and focus on it to get a finished piece. Even if you’re not happy with it straight away, it’s important to get something finished that you can then revisit and refine.

Have you released any music yet, and if so how has it been received?
Yes, I released my debut album, ‘A little bit of me’ in October. It’s been getting good reviews and a lot of airplay on radio stations all over the place including Canada, US, Australia and even Russia!

Lincoln City Radio named it their Jazz album of the Year, 2018.

Are you planning any music releases for the near future?
I hope to write more and record more later this year.

If you have released music, where can fans to be find it?
The album is on all the usual download and streaming sites, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and available as a CD via my website.

Do you have social media, if so please provide links?
You can find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues?
I’ve performed in art centres, bars and restaurants, mostly around the west of Scotland.

Butterfly and Pig was good. Worst was a bar where they wouldn’t turn off the football when the band was ready to start!

Do you have any gigs in the near future, and if so where and when?
I’ve a gig coming up in The Blue Arrow, Sauchiehall St, Glasgow 7.30 on Saturday 9 February. Tickets here

How do you balance your music with other obligations?
I used to work full time as a self employed marketing consultant and music was fitted in around this but I’ve more or less given up my business now and have more time to focus on my music.

Following on from that question, what has been your biggest challenge as a performer and have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so then how?
I think every artist has to deal with the feelings of ‘am I good enough?’ and ‘will people like what I do?’ I think the trick is to learn not to compare yourself with others and realise that you are unique.

Find your own way to express what you want through your music and if you put the effort in and perform to the best of your ability, the rest is down to taste. Don’t try to please everyone. It’s important that you’re happy with what you do and enjoy it.

What advice do you have for beginners?
Don’t try to be a copy of others: find your own ‘voice’. Keep learning.

And let’s end with something a little different…Which famous person, living or dead, would you have dinner with and why?
Marilyn Monroe: we share the same birthday. I reckon she was a lot smarter than people give her credit for and I’d love to hear some of her stories about the people she knew.


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