As you know, I occasionally interview my talented friends and acquaintances. Recently I attended Laura Camara’s concert and I was impressed by her voice, her stage presence and her connection with the audience. My conversation with Laura took place several days after the concert.
Laura Camara is an award winning jazz vocalist, winning second place in New York City’s Jazzmobile Vocal Competition. Laura has also performed at top jazz venues and festivals around the world such as The Montreux Jazz Festival, The Boston Pops Jazz Festival, and the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program at the John F. Kennedy National Center for the Performing Arts. She has recently returned from an extended Asian Tour throughout Thailand, Vietnam, India, and Indonesia. Performing for the US Embassy and State department, The Royal Thai family, and headlining The Ubud Village Jazz Festival in Bali, Indonesia. In addition to live performances Laura has been a featured profiled artist on WGBH Boston’s National Public Radio and famous New York City Web Series Capsulocity. Laura hails from Columbus, and I was fortunate to catch a performance on her home turf.
Singing was your childhood dream. How does real life compare to it?
One of them yes. I thought I would be a Broadway star in New York or a street artist in Paris. I was always involved in the arts one way or another. Music was always something that I could just do. There are videos of me at three years old singing Opera to Gloria Estefan on our fireplace. The thrill of performing is still there but as an adult and a professional it is a bit different than I thought. As a kid you think it will be all creating and performing, but the truth is 80% of my work is logistics: emailing, booking, budgeting, marketing strategies– but that justmakes the creative part more rewarding.
What is the part you enjoy most about your work?
Sounds simple but…playing together. There is this moment when you work with a great band where, without any verbal or visual communication, you hear each other. You actually hear who they are! Then you begin speaking to each other through the music. Somehow everyone just clicks! And you end up taking the music and the audience to places you didn’t know you could go.
“I think about the story I want to tell first.”
How do you select material when you compose a song?
Well I’d have to say I think about the story I want to tell first. With my compositions, the music is usually composed to emphasize the message of the song. Even if it isn’t my own composition, I listen to the lyrics and, if I feel connected to the story, I find a way to make it my own. I like to pull material from any genre because to me genre is irrelevant when you have a sound that is yours and yours alone.
“Genre is irrelevant when you have a sound that is yours and yours alone.”
So Laura, do you compose and arrange all your material yourself?
Yes for the most part. Occasionally I will collaborate but I do compose my originals and arrangements on my own.
What are you most known for as an artist?
Right now I am perhaps best known for my ability to do what we call scat singing which is a way that jazz vocalist freely improvise alternate melodies without words. I travel internationally giving master classes on the subject. I am also known for my jazz arrangements of pop and rock & roll classics.
What would you like to be known for, Laura?
I would like my music to serve a greater purpose in the world. As artists, we have a unique ability to move and unite people. I feel we have a responsibility to use our art to speak out for the things that matter and spread positivity. If I can help make the world a better place with my art I will be happy.
Laura, is there one performance that stands out in your memory you’d like to share?
There are a few. Janna. Performing at The Kennedy Center in Washington DC was a great one. I did, just last year, get to perform for the late King of Thailand’s Birthday Celebration with The Royal Family in attendance which was a huge honor. However the performance that I am most proud of is a show that I wrote produced and performed last year at the American Cultural Center in Jakarta, Indonesia. The show is called “Songs Of My Father; Music of The Flower Generation”
It is a multimedia show that tells the story of what happened in America in the 1960’s told through video, photo images, live interviews, and most importantly the music.
Is there one place you haven’t performed that is at the top of your bucket list?
Carnegie Hall would be nice….
Then, I’ll count on two seats at your first concert there. OK? What projects do you have coming up?
I am working on the release of my debut solo album titled “My Ascension,” named for my most popular composition. I am very excited about it. It will be mostly my original compositions with a few arrangements of some popular songs. It is going to be a deeply personal record, showing people exactly who I am and what I am about. I am still booking my original show “Songs Of My Father” I am also working on creating a new multimedia show featuring other singers and women in jazz called “SHE”. I like to stay busy.
What do you see for yourself professionally in the next year or two?
Where do I see myself? Well…Definitely traveling from place to place and making beautiful music. Promoting my album and making socially relevant music, connecting with new people and hopefully spreading some joy and positive messages. On some big international stages for sure.
When should we expect your album out?
I am in the recording phase right now. We plan to have it out by Christmas of 2017.
Is there anything , Laura, you would like to ask from the readers?
I would ask the readers two things: Go support independent art any way you can and go out in the world and spread some love to everyone you meet.
… and how would you describe your musical style?
Well I would describe as modern jazz vocals with a twist. I like to think of it as modern jazz harmonies, with singer songwriter lyrics, and electric grooves from hip hop to samba.
I have an impression that you play other instruments. Is this true?
Yes. I play piano, guitar, drums, and violin. I just don’t play all of them in my concerts I use them to help me compose mostly.
Is there somewhere our readers can hear a sample of your singing?
Yes. You can go to my website: lauracamaramusic.com or look me up on YouTube as Laura Camara. I will have a new video series coming out that i have been working on of some solo vocal harmonies. They can also follow me on Facebook, and on Twitter as @LCamaraMusic
Throughout your career, Laura, what has meant the most to you?
That’s easy. Absolutely, the ability to travel and to experience something beyond my realm of understanding. I have been fortunate enough to not only travel but spend extended periods of time in many different countries. Places where I play with musicians who don’t even speak the same language as me and somehow we understand each other. We don’t need words to communicate. I have been welcomed into homes and been cared for by people whom I have never met before. What I have realized through all of this is that… in the end it’s just people!
That is all. We are all connected to each other in more ways than we are different. It has made me more compassionate and understanding and given me the ability to love on a level I never expected.
What are some your favorite places you have traveled for your music?
Well I have gone to some interesting places, Janna. Of course I loved Switzerland and France but I loved Vietnam, India, & Bali. I like to perform in unusual places. That way, I get to see more of the world.
Laura’s Press Kit Video
Live from jazz for the King of Thailand Concert. My arrangement of “The Rainbow Connection” which will be featured on my debut album: