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INTERVIEW WITH LAURA CHEADLE

2 May 2014 at 13:43

By Suzanne Swanson ©

http://www.lauracheadle.com/


Musical ingénue, Laura Cheadle, was literally born into a career of performing. That would explain why she is as comfortable on stage as well as having recorded five albums.

Laura’s father, James Cheadle,  toured , played and recorded with many notable musicians such as Don Cornell, Jaco Pastorius,The Four Aces , Grover Washington Jr, to name a few. Music was always in her home, from funk bands in the basement to folk artists recording in the recording studio, all of this being a daily experience. “Dad likes to joke saying, ‘I ruined my children into music’, but growing up with such an accomplished musician like my father was such a beautiful musical education”.

At four years old, she toured the USA with her family. She sang a song her dad wrote for The Persian War Gulf Troops. “We have a major music video that you can google, 'The Appreciation Choir', and admire my deliciously nerdy bowl hair cut”,she adds chuckling. This is where she began her musical journey and getting a taste of the “rush of performing live for captive audiences”. Even at that age,she says, that she loved touring different states and living every second of every moment.

At eight years old, Laura begged her parents to buy a four track recorder, started composing music on the keyboard and putting in multi part harmonies. “This beat playing with Barbie dolls any day”! At the age of eleven, she started playing the drums to form a band with her older twin brothers naturally called,'Sibling' which was a pop /rock band. “I played the drums and sang. My brothers, Jim and Nick, played keyboard and guitar”. They performed at events locally for several years.

At sixteen, a heart break hit her hard. “Music became my soul healer. I taught myself the guitar and started writing music with a more funky/blues influenced way (music I've heard my whole life from my father) with singer songwriter lyrics”.This turned into The Laura Cheadle Family Blues Band.

She knew from the beginning that she wanted to sing. “We actually have a bonus track on my album from 2010 of me at two years old singing. You can even hear some stylein my baby sounds. My dad snuck that on the CD without me knowing! We call it'Laura's Rap'”, she grins.

Writing music has never ever been technical, Laura says. She likes to describe it as an itch that continues having to be scratched. She will have this feeling for a few days and then will sit down to have it pour out. “With our latest CD, ‘Bruised and Soothed’, the songs on there came out so fast on certain pieces because I was going through a lot of life changes”.

“I never really have 'rules' for writing, because for me, it's more of a healing to write”. When a tune is finished, she says, it feels as if she just had a therapy session. Laughing, she shares, “It saves me a lot of bucks that way”.

Music has given Laura the opportunity to travel often and perform for different audiences.She loves being able to do this as she considers herself an open person who loves hearing about people's life stories.

Speaking of therapy, she muses, “I would probably be a therapist or psychologist because people intrigue me. I'd rather sing though”.

If given a chance Laura would love to open for James Taylor, Tower of Power, or Bonnie Raitt. “That would be an aiming high but I really want it. I really admire Bonnie Raitt. She is her own person. When she sings live, you know her full heart is in every note no matter how many times she has sung the song”.  

In 2003,Laura released her first all-acoustic album of her alone on guitar called,‘Maybe One Day'. This was a series of songs she wrote on the guitar inspired by her teen angst. The CD gained attention locally where she would play coffeehouses. Many of the small venues requested selling the CD so a lot peoples started to take notice and were hearing her name.

By 2006,a full band CD called, 'Falling In', which featured some of the songs from her previous acoustic albums with new songs included, came out with family member musicians backing her. “This is the album that broke me out into the Philadelphia Music area scene and I began gigging regularly”.

Three years later with much more experience, an album called, ‘Live On', was produced with a mixture of genres. Media picked up on it praising it for its unexpected music, song to song. “It started to show   that I really care about the tiny details that go into music (with the help of my band of course)”.

Just a year after that, in 2010, 'Change (It's Alright)', a new CD showed her transition into true blues sounding music, Laura smiles. “This CD is very mellow which matched those years of my life”. It gained attention for her vocals, peoples aid, as she was developing much more as a professional singer. The band received acclaim for this album as well.

Asked what her proudest accomplishment is Laura glows when talking about her latest release which came out in 2014, ‘Bruised & Soothed',  which took four years to finish. She was in a terrible relationship for four years where she wasn't writing anything at all but overcame it to write what she calls her blues oriented material. “I was still performing, but I was uninspired. When we broke up, I found myself again”.

Last summer, the band toured cross country and hit many blues bars from Chicago to San Francisco. She had the opportunity to sit in with many amazing singers. “I had always sung blues, (being around it my entire life), but I didn't believe it until I got a little older. I really can FEEL it and know this is what music is in my soul. In this album, you will hear it in my voice and see that I grew up. I am very proud of this work”. There is a horn sections, and well-known harmonica player, Mikey Jr contributed to the mix. “I really found who I am and you hear four years of evolving reflected in this music”.

Laura says that she thinks these albums have put her where she is supposed to be. “Every year, you grow and change and all the experiences lead me here”.   

When she toured Charlotte, North Carolina, for a charity she was asked to represent,'American Foundation for Children with AIDs'. Sennheiser Microphones sponsored that tour. She now endorses their microphones. As far as her other gear besides Sennheiser Microphones, Laura prefers Baby Martin, Baby Dean, and Baby Taylor Guitars. “I love lightness, and use the baby guitars since I'm always dancing on stage with the guitar strapped on”.

Her father, uses ProToolsHD, Neumann microphones, various tube, and transistor preamps, audiophile wiring in the recording studio,  James Cheadle’s, 9 South Productions Studio.

“I usually come to my dad with a new song, he writes down the chords and we start laying down the basic tracks before bringing any other musicians in. We also co-write music. We are so simpatico”. She points out that it is not the same every time which is the beauty of a creative environment. “It’s such a bonding experience too”!

Laura keeps her momentum up by running 8-12 miles daily. She is also a strict vegan which can be tricky sometimes. “When I go down South, I eat a lot of salads!Traveling to Europe, I can always eat. I usually pack my own food like Granola,etc. Luckily for me, many places are now offering vegan options”. She shares that the best vegan food she had was in Memphis, TN, believe it or not.

When asked if there are any words of wisdom to those who wish to pursue a career in music as she has, Laura’s emphatic response was, “Take every gig”!                

http://www.lauracheadle.com/

©Suzanne Swanson 2014