Laura Turner Biography
Last updated: 06/11/2008 11:00:00 AM
Laura Turner has crafted an unmistakable sound that artfully unites her operatic training with the smoldering sensuality and emotional immediacy of only the best pop songwriting. Soul Deep may just be the most unique-and talked-about-debut by a female artist this year.
Soul Deep is more than a showcase for an amazing voice. Laura Turner's debut with Curb Records guarantee that Turner will immediately be compared to-and hold her own alongside-the most dynamic voices of our day. The new artist's performances on Soul Deep prove that Turner does indeed possess true soul.
It's been clear to anyone who listened that, from a very young age, Laura Turner was blessed with a voice of uncommon purity and power. Her family recognized this early, but encouraged Laura to explore the breadth of her gift, letting her voice find its way through adolescence and keeping her out of vocal lessons until she was sixteen. High school for Laura was full of choirs, Broadway musicals and long hours with a guitar learning the songs and stylings of music icons like Pat Benatar, Whitney Houston, Carly Simon and Emmylou Harris.
Once in formal training, Laura's teachers encouraged a less commercial approach to singing and began to position their star pupil on the fast track for a career in classical music. Laura received her B.A. in Music and Vocal Performance, with a minor in dance. She began excelling under the tutelage of some of opera's best teachers, both domestically and in Sienna, Italy, but something was missing for Laura.
"I love opera, but I found myself straining against its edges," says Turner. "In classical music, the goal is to find emotion without straying from rigid, conservative interpretations of the music. I kept wanting to ad lib and dance a little with the melodies and arrangements, to explore the playfulness and intimacy I'd discovered in pop."
Her growing artistic restlessness led Laura to continue her studies in voice, but this time with an eye to more commercial music. She began to experiment with various genres, and singing standards, exploring the range of possibilities in her voice and the growing repertoire of her own compositions in clubs and songwriter's nights.
This period of musical experimentation allowed Laura to stretch beyond the strict limits she had learned as a classical artist. Deciding to forge a more accessible sound was the easy part; finding the right sound-and more importantly for Turner, feeling-was another story altogether. It was clear that Laura's full soprano made mincemeat out of most pop songs-hers is an instrument that demands material as rich, emotive and powerful as her voice. It became clear that years of learning to sing flawlessly had to be unlearned, to allow room for the emotional frailty, romance and intimacy she craved in her music.
"At the time, it was the most frustrating experience," Turner recalls. "But in retrospect I see it was just my time to 'pay my dues'-to find my own voice as an artist, to discover the place where my soul and the soul of a song meet, and to lose myself in that place. I learned in those moments of abandon that I could be more than the sum of my musical parts-that something transcendent happened. These moments became the measure of my success as a singer and my goal for life."
It was during this period that Laura met producer/writer Kurt Howell who, like Turner, has a classical music pedigree. They began to work together on her music, eventually approaching David Huff as a co-producer, and a vehicle that perfectly captured the breadth of her gifts and interests. Through the trio it was clear that a new musical genre had been born. Turner's music quickly began to make the industry rounds. The resulting buzz quickly became a clamor, with several major labels positioning to sign that voice.
"I heard possibilities in certain records that stirred something in me," Laura reflects, "and I became convinced that two things were possible: being true to my soul as an artist and that I could make decidedly contemporary pop records that were accessible and uncompromised."
In the studio Turner's own songs--as well as, some contributions from several of the industry's best writers, including Diane Warren (Celine Dion, Aerosmith) and Desmond Child (Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Cher)-took on a feel at once ethereal and deeply sensual. It was a formula that perfectly unified Laura's training in the classics-layers of orchestral strings, elegant melodic sensibilities-with dance, African, Celtic and Latin-influenced rhythms, chiming guitars, a fat bass under-belly and sultry, atmospheric vocals reminiscent of Sarah McLaughlan and Paula Cole. More importantly, it was a formula that didn't feel like a formula at all. Laura was home.
"From the first moment in the studio we promised to make a record that was all about the deeper things," says Turner, "The whole album is really about trying to unearth a 'love language' adequate to the search for a soul mate, the quest for wholeness. I wanted to celebrate the sensual, the romantic, the tender and even the difficult aspects of love, and to find the spiritual at the heart of the erotic."
This commitment finds voice in the thematic breadth of Soul Deep. The hypnotic rhythms and cinematic imagery of "Illusion of a Kiss" provide a vivid exploration of the intense, and often contradictory, yearnings and fears that accompany the first bloom of love. "Where You Are" is a prayer for fulfillment that reflects on the fundamental self-doubt all of us bring to any substantive relationship, whether with a lover or the divine. The title track is, pure and simple, a celebration of the spiritual aspects of love-making. Laura's haunting, enigmatic mid-tempo take on "My Sacrifice" showcasing her vocal and dynamic range, while finding nuances and subtleties easily missed in the hard-rocking Creed original. Perhaps the best example of Turner's emotional complexity is her own trip-hoppy lullaby, "Baby Sleep." While Laura's lyrics are clearly a celebration of angelic care-and one that will no doubt find its way into thousands of nurseries in the coming years-the song's sensual groove makes it easily interchangeable with the feeling of two lover's rocking each other to sleep.
Balancing this simmering eroticism, there are several tracks on Soul Deep that offer plenty of pure, singing power. Turner's duet with Ray Vega on his hit "Angel De Madrugada" is lush and gentle while still putting her powerful soprano on full display. The Spanish language track demonstrates one more way her classical training prepared her for this opportunity-fluent in the operatic languages of German, French and Italian, Laura is clearly ready to conquer the world.
However, the biggest moment for Laura's voice-and soul-is found in "The Will of the Heart" (co-written by Turner with Howell and Tammy Hyler). The song is an inspirational showstopper that is a kind of hymn to perseverance and self-esteem. It is a testament to positive thinking that refuses to gloss over the tough times endured to get to happy endings. That, in and of itself, would make it unique in the world of inspo-anthems, but Laura's performance of the song takes it into the spine-tingling, hair-on-end stratosphere.
"From the start I was committed to finding the intimacy in our songs and in my voice," says Turner. "When I was listening to different takes and approaches and inflections on the songs, I always chose the emotional over the technically perfect. In these times of turmoil, with so many looking for anything of substance and comfort in the face of great uncertainty, I felt an obligation to craft a record that stirred me to my depths, that moves the heart. My commitment was to let my voice be an instrument in the truest sense-a means or vehicle for the soul-and never an end in itself. I think we've done just that, so now we can take it to the world."