Karen Lawrence launches her solo career by delivering a personal, poignant, bittersweet blues-based classic. This self-penned song, recorded by legendary producer Jack Douglas, captures Lawrence in a deeply reflective mood. Melancholy yet uplifting, her compelling performance is capable of evoking tears in anyone who has encountered the shifting emotions of life and love. The track was mastered by Fred Hostetler and is the final recording with the band Blue By Nature.
Question: How would you describe your music?
Karen Lawrence: Blues, rock, and soul written and framed by a female singer/ musician.
Question: Can you tell us about your latest track?
Karen Lawrence: Fred Hostetler, co-leader of BBN, put together the Best of Live CD project. The feedback has been, once again, so positive. And since the original Live release in 1998 so much has happened with the advancement of the internet. We have been fortunate this time around to reach so many more people worldwide. I had "I Couldn't Help But Love You" in the can and we decided to release it as a follow-up. I have another tune I'm working on in the studio and FH and I are putting together some other ideas.
Question: What inspired you to move to a solo career?
Karen Lawrence: When our band BBN went on an extended hiatus I tried a few other player combinations but nothing really stuck. I never set out to pursue a solo career. As a kid I was primarily a solo performer but I've been in a band since I was 13! I don't think there's much distinction between a band and a solo release for me. I am usually in a leadership or co-leadership position and pretty outspoken. I have a strong hand in most areas. I might have a wee bit more say on a solo project but I value a great player's talent and input.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Karen Lawrence: Making music whether performing, recording, or just hangin' about is satisfying, challenging, and wonderful! But to your question, for me, live is where the heart speaks and shines. The trick to recording is to capture that.
Question: Which is your favourite song to perform live and why?
Karen Lawrence: I love going emotionally deep on a ballad like Fun & Games and I write a lot of torch songs but it's hard to put on the breaks when we're rockin' a tune like The Blues Is In My Way. I like strutin' around on songs written with a cocky attitude or ironic lyric, something like "If you don't come back to me I'm gonna kick your ass!" or "Your leavin' me was your last mistake". LOL! Good fun! But seriously, the more passionate the better!
Question: If you could have anyone, in the world, attend a show, who would it be?
Karen Lawrence: Muddy Waters, David Bowie, Oh! You meant in THIS world. Well, you know over the years I have had the rush knowing that a celebrity or two were in the audience or the studio control room: Barbra Streisand, Ann Wilson, BB King, Dan Akroyd, Rod Stewart. Not to mention all the bands I've toured with: Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, and many more. I guess you could still get a tremble out of me if Mick Jagger or Tina Turner showed up!
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Karen Lawrence: An emotion, an attitude, a thought, a phrase. Chords are stimulating but I don't generally begin there. I've got to have the lyric/feeling and it's usually attached to a melody and chords in my head. Then I mess with it. All may change or stay the same. I love the refining/editing process.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Karen Lawrence: SiriusXM BB Kings Bluesville would be my go to radio station in my car. I watch a small bit of YouTube now and then. But generally, I don't listen much to music. When it's quiet I start thinkin' and talkin' to myself and lyrics start rolIin' out. I love instrumental guitar work. I dig Walter Trout, Mike Zito, Joe Satriani's more mellow/melodic stuff, Otis Rush, I've got a favorite Santana tune entitled The Calling.Love that jam! I suppose if I was allowed one CD on a desert island it would be my Muddy Waters' "One More Mile" CD Compilation. Muddy's voice and personality just tear me up.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Karen Lawrence: Growing up our house was full of music-not professional but creative. We sang a lot and there were instruments around! I had a choir teacher make me a soloist in the fourth grade. At nine years old I became a ventriloquist and learned to play guitar shortly after and boom! I was a one man show! I performed semi-professionally for several years.I was a freshman in high school when a guy heard me in a music store playing and singing off the sheet music to Mr.Tambourine Man. He asked me if I wanted "to be in their band". That was it. That's what I did from then on.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Karen Lawrence: Phat question. ANYBODY would be novel since I write now mostly solo. If I'm co-writing for someone else I can come in at any stage of the song completion. In fact I love to clean up lyrics. But if I'm going to be writing for myself I feel I need to have the lyric well outlined in order for me to be able to put my heart into it. I've spent many an anguished hour trying to put my heart into someone else's chord progression. It's just not as genuine for me.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Karen Lawrence: Management, record companies and money.
Question: What's a typical day like?
Karen Lawrence: Coffee to wake up while I ramble around my little property with my lab Gracie before suiting up for our 30 minute run. I try (and often fail) not to get distracted with lyrics or some other creative project before leaving the house. I do write while I run, however. I even keep a pen & paper or carry a lyric I'm working on in my little running bag! Love it! Post work-out: clean up/dress, check email, etc., eat my yogurt & fruit thing, take on the day. I always have something going on; a project, chores, errands-there's always a song to record or an attic to straighten up, something to sew, something to saw. I have many interests or resources as they say. I'm athletic, I prefer the outside, and I like to be busy. I keep a guitar out on a stand and my lyric/song book close on hand ready to swipe up as I walk by. A lovely piano to sit down at would be nice but mine is in my music studio. Warning: If I'm working on a new song you will not reach me on the phone-maybe for days!
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Karen Lawrence: Being a musician. Traveling. Walking into meetings or situations where you are clueless or not sure of the outcome. Performing on stage. To me the stage is your safe spot, your comfy place even and especially when you don't know exactly what's going to happen creatively and you're flying by the seat of your pants. It's stimulating but not for the faint of heart. I'm an over-preparer but I try not to be over rehearsed. I enjoy the prep process. You learn so much: new chords, new riffs, arrangement tricks, and I write new songs. I often remind myself that the prep is more rewarding than a one off gig. But music is not just about being a pro-artist. I tell folks, "Learn to play guitar! It hurts at first and you're not good at it but it's worth it-just like a lot of things." Knowing the guitar and other instruments gives you so much independence and satisfaction, often anywhere and alone!. Fine tuning your skills over the years, playing, jamming with other people, is really where it's at!
Question: Can you share your socials?
Karen Lawrence: www.facebook.com/KarenLawrenceBlueByNature/
Interview by Brooke Hunter