Laura & Susie
Laura and her sister Susie released their debut album “Meremba” in 2013 of original songs that are influenced strongly by the Celtic and Americana folk music from their childhood. Laura writes complex, story-telling piano compositions that are eccentric and witty in their musical and lyrical themes, influenced by artists like Tori Amos, Regina Spektor and Joanna Newsom. The expansive soundscapes of her vivid compositional style complement the spellbinding simplicity of Susie’s songs, which are delicately fingerpicked on guitar with her pure vocals blending in themes of love, life and nostalgia, inspired by great songstresses such as Joni Mitchell, Kate Rusby and Kate Bush. Accordion, piano, violin and guitar create the backdrop for beautiful harmonies that weave together flavours of jazz, roots, Appalachian folk and more eclectic styles.
ARIA Award nominated ensemble melding the earthiness of folk, dexterity of jazz and the craft of classical music, Chaika’s vast influences create superb genre-blending music that transcends labels. Described as “spine-tingling” (Rhythms) and “extraordinary” (Fine Music FM), the Sydney-based sextet create a multi-faceted kaleidoscope of sounds – a true culmination of compositional, arranging and improvising prowess, performed with stunning attention to detail. Their latest album, ARROW (2019), has received heartfelt reviews, recorded and produced by ARIA award-winning team Bob Scott and Llew Kiek.
“Like a gust of wind ushering in a new season of possibilities … Arrow, as the title suggests, offered listeners a new direction in Australian Folk music, an innovative blend of beautifully crafted pieces.” (What’s on Sydney)
Martenitsa Choir / Mara!
Laura has sung with the Martenitsa Choir for 12 years. During that time she has toured to Europe with them in 2005, appearing at WOMAD Reading in the UK and the Koprivshtitsa festival in Bulgaria. She composed a piece for the choir called Maika i Sin (“Mother and Son”) and a piece for the choir and ARIA Award winning ensemble Mara! called Razdyala (“Parting”), both to text by Bulgarian poet Stefan Kozhuharov and recorded in 2016 ready for release in late 2017/early 2018. She has performed with the choir and band at Woodford Folk Festival in 2011/12 as a soloist, at WOMADeladaide in 2013, and toured with them to Italy and the UK in 2015.
From 2009-2012 Laura was a regular guest artist with Central Coast group the Rhythm Hunters. Her association with group director Rendra Freestone led to his later involvement in Chaika. She began her time with the group performing the intricate piece Ladoai from West Sumatra, a kneeling dance with interlocking frame drum patterns and movement, and then joined them on accordion and melodica. She appeared at many festivals and venues with them including Island Vibe and Woodford Folk Festival 2009/10. At the latter she performed Ladoai on the 20,000 capacity Amphitheatre stage for the New Year’s Eve countdown concert (pictured).
Doc Jones & the Lechery Orchestra
Laura was part of the 5-piece Lechery Orchestra from 2009-2010, lending her accordion stylings and vocals to Doc Jones’ highly unusual songs. Not least amongst her skills was the ability to sing, play accordion, and dance the Charleston – in high heels – all at once. The Lechers found their way to many places of ill repute, highlights including the Basement in Sydney with equally inexplicable Melbourne act Rapskallion. During her last few months with the band she put aside the accordion and took over on double bass.
Folk Music Around The World
Folk Music Around The World is the solo show that Laura takes to schools around Sydney and the surrounding regional areas. She traverses through many different countries bringing folk songs to life with enthusiasm, passion and skill. She gets students involved, teaching them songs, body percussion and movement, and weaves stories about the songs she has collected from afar. In tandem with a music education professional she has developed a specific primary school syllabus that is applicable across many curriculums.