Interview | Lauren Henderson | The Sweet Voice In Jazz

First sounds of her voice made me close my eyes. I could sense the intention of every word as she was allowing me into her world. The excitement was growing while her voice was embracing me and directing my thoughts to fly with her.

I felt inspired, I felt free, I was in love.

Lauren Henderson is an eclectic jazz singer and songwriter. She combines classic jazz and her latin heritage blending the two styles into one. Lauren is an example of that what can be deliberately created through the power of trust, believe and passion for life and music.

  • Who is Lauren Henderson? Please introduce yourself.

I am a vocalist, composer, producer, and a lover of the arts in general.  While most of my music and performances are centered around jazz and Latin jazz, I have a sincere interest and passion for various genres of music.  Frequently, my compositions are fusions influenced by my culture(s) and exposure to world music.

  • Have you always dreamed of becoming a jazz singer?

I’ve always loved jazz.  My parents and grandparents exposed me to the music.  Some of my earliest memories involve an American Songbook soundtrack by some of my favorite jazz artists.  The interesting part is that I was terrified to sing a solo until my senior year of high school, when I was basically forced into doing so.

  • What inspires your artistic path?

I am inspired by all that we experience in life; love, heartbreak, triumph, disappointment, loss, insecurities, passion, and more.  Visual and performing arts often influence and inspire my music.

  • What’s your process of creation like, from initial draft/idea of a song to manifestation as a finished piece?

This process varies drastically for me.  At times, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a song in my head (or heart … had to throw in a ridiculous jazz joke).  Lyrics tend to come to me quickly and usually the melody follows shortly after if I’m lucky.

  • What is the story your songs convey? How do they reflect your personal life?

My music is about love and desire.  I’ve experienced heartache, pain, and deception, along with love, passion, and infatuation.  Over the past few years, I’ve tried to be sure that when I sing, I do my best to connect with the story.  One of my mentors reminded me to “be in the moment” so the emotion can be conveyed to the audience.

  • Tell us about your latest album. What are you working on now?

A La Madrugada is my most recent release.  It features some of my original music in English and Spanish, as well as great jazz and R&B standards.  Right now, I am working on my third album, which Mark Ruffin is producing.  It features, Joe Saylor, Nanny Assis, Eric Wheeler, Sullivan Fortner, Godwin Louis, and Josh Evans.  We will have a few more guest artists on the record.  I am thrilled to be working with these incredible artists.  This record features some incredible covers, standards, and more of my original music.

  • You write and sing songs in Spanish, correct? Where does this passion come from?

That’s right.  I think the majority of my original (released) music is actually in Spanish.  English is my first language, but my passion for Spanish comes from my Afro-Latino culture.  My grandfather was born in Panama and I try to embrace and explore this part of my heritage along with my widespread Caribbean roots.

  • How can you describe your music style, and which way it expands?

I have an eclectic musical style that truly spreads across genres.  I think my style expands daily.  The fusion of genres is a never-ending musical opportunity and creative exploration.  I can be a bit of a “crooner” but I am constantly striving for growth and pushing myself to explore and use my vocal color pallet.

  • Who do you sing for?

1st, Me. I made a lot of sacrifices to become a full-time musician because it’s what I love the most.  I’ve had to be selfish and selfless at the same time.  To reach others, I have to know myself and what I need and want as a listener.  2nd, I sing for anyone who will listen.  It’s also my responsibility as an artist to reach, inspire, and entertain my audience.  Those who are open to experiencing the music with me are always welcome to join me for the journey… I improvise and often I am just as surprised as the listener.

  • What’s your opinion on music business today, and how do you see its future shaping up?

The music business is changing regularly and rapidly.  My hope is that the public will continue to support live music so we can continue to finance our creativity.  If aficionados support the musicians they love, and venues compensate them justly and fairly, I think there is hope for the future of music.  That being said, there is a lot of room for improvement in the industry in regards to compensating musicians fairly.

  • What is the magic between you and the musicians like when you are on stage? How does this affect your performance?

There is an extremely strong connection that can’t be reached between every musician.  It’s almost like relationships…  Sometimes there are musicians that give you butterflies in your stomach, console you, and make you nervous at the same time when they play, almost like falling in love… and after, you feel like you are communicating on an even deeper level.  In other situations, you may admire their beauty, style, and skill, but your heart is left empty.  I always try to work with people that speak to me, that can have a deep conversation with me and the musicians around them… I want to listen to something powerful and I also want to be heard when I am trying to say something.

  • You are young, beautiful, talented and successful. What’s the secret? Could you describe what success means to you?

That’s extremely kind and generous.  Thank you so much!  Success is doing what I love and seizing every opportunity for growth and development.  Success is not letting anyone set limits for me and believing in myself.  I think that is the secret.

  • Your voice is beautiful. Do you believe you can be, do and have anything you want?

Thank you very much.  I sing from the heart and try to be true to myself.  I’m far from perfect and I have a lot of room for growth, but yes, I believe we all can strive and push for everything we want from life.  We are capable of so much more than we realize.

  • You live between Miami, New York and Boston now. How do these three cities influence your professional career?

They all have such different things to offer.  I am from Massachusetts and will always feel at home there with family and friends.  New England has a special charm and I was fortunate to study at incredible schools with excellent instruction.

I believe I found myself and developed my voice in New York. I’ve met some of the world’s most talented musicians and entertainers.  It’s a wonderful place to live and experience jazz.  It’s a city that will make you stronger.

Miami has an energy that’s incomparable.  There is a zest here, but an incredibly relaxed vibe that has really fostered my creative process.  I love having access to so many talented musicians and immersing myself in Latin culture and music.

  • You are traveling a lot. How do you balance your professional and personal lives?

Honestly, I’m still learning to balance my professional life and personal life.  It’s extremely challenging, but I find my way by making sure to spend time with those I love and trust as much as possible.  Sometimes I have to schedule time with my close friends and family.  If I value and cherish someone, I do my best to let them know however I can.

  • What is your biggest dream right now? How do you see yourself in the future?

Right now, I’d like to share my music with as many people as possible and sincerely hope they enjoy it.  I see myself writing and recording much much more.

  • What can you share with us that could inspire others?

I have (and still) suffer from insecurities.  Something I’ve learned is that I have to be able to support myself and have faith in my ability.  Love your mistakes because it probably means you took a chance and pushed yourself out of your comfort zone, which is beautiful.  Believe in yourself, respect yourself, know your worth, and get to know yourself.  Please don’t look to others for gratification.  Don’t waste your time trying to be loved or liked by everyone.  Learn when to hold on and when to move on… have pride in yourself and continue to grow.

Author: Armand Alvarez
Text Editing: Rakel Jun Love
Photo Credit: Siarhei Hancharou