Laura Coyle was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of an IBM executive. At 5 years old, her family relocated (“IBM stood for ‘I’ve Been Moved’”) from Buffalo to Atlanta, GA. “I was fascinated and amused by the red clay earth I saw from the window of the airplane,” she says. In time, the shy and demure transplant adapted to her new surroundings, complete with a southern accent and an earnest, yet short-lived attempt to learn southern manners.
Upon graduating from high school, Laura set off to Auburn University as an art major, where she took a jazz history course because friends told her she could listen to records in class. This was her introduction to the music of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn and other great jazz artists. Back in high school chorus, she had been terrified to sing in public, but now there was no one to hear her but herself. While practicing her art and becoming an illustrator, she would sing their music all day, all through her art sessions. A kernel of an idea began to form, “I really think I can sing.” Finally, she mustered up enough courage to sing for her jazz history professor, who invited her to join in on his regular campus jam session.
After college, Laura circled back to her home state of New York, where she lucked into a job as photographer Jimmie Katz’ assistant in New York City. She sat in on the lengthy, yet inspiring recording sessions of many great New York City jazz artists, including Dianne Reeves and the dashing Joe Williams. “I was blown away by the classical jazz cultural experience, ” she says. She listened and learned, but still didn’t attempt to sing herself. But, it was through this inner circle of royalty that she learned the genre and made connections with the best musicians in NYC.
Eventually, Laura moved back to Atlanta to get married to her boyfriend, but engagement didn’t last. She took piano lessons though, and after an art-related repetitive strain injury, her teacher switched her to voice lessons and forced her take the stage and confront—once and for all—her shyness and reticence to sing for an audience.
Today, Laura is both a celebrated art illustrator and highly acclaimed jazz vocalist, once again, deeply connected to a community of talented musicians who play together and support each other. Drummer Justin Varnes says, “Laura has a unique voice and delivery that we don’t hear in singers anymore. It’s a throwback to the 40s and 50s when jazz vocals were king and queen.” Pianist Tyrone Jackson says, “I like Laura. She is very professional, very easy to work with. She hires great musicians and interprets songs very well.” And pianist/frequent side-man Louis Heriveaux says, “I think that Laura is a singer that really connects with musicians. She believes that to be good, you actually need to study music. She studies melodies, harmonies and the things that musicians study in order to play, which most vocalists do not. She speaks our language on musical terms, and it makes musicians happy to play with her.”
You can hear Laura Coyle and her trio perform LIVE at The Velvet Note on Saturday, September 15th. Showtimes are at 7:30 and 9:30pm. Reservations are suggested—just call 855.583.5838 or visit our box office at www.thevelvetnote.com/schedule-ticketing.