There is something to be said for the moment in life when you finally realize who you are truly meant to be. You’re happier. Life opens up. Your creative juices flow. And, as a creative person you do some of your best work. That’s exactly where contemporary Christian artist Laura Turner is today.
With her 2003 debut adult contemporary release on Curb Records, she thought she had it all – the big record deal, tours, a hot video on YouTube, amazing accolades including this from Billboard magazine: “Laura Turner shows vast emotional range and crisp purity,” and a husband and kids to boot! But something was missing. Something she couldn’t quite put her finger on…until now. And, if Billboard thought she had vast emotional range then, wait until they hear her now.
“My first record, Soul Deep, was who I was then, but it’s not the person or artist I want to be or who I am today,” explains the Houston, Texas-bred, Jackson Hole, Wyoming-based singer/songwriter, who makes the natural transition from adult contemporary pop to contemporary Christian music on her new 2013 EP, Voice of Heaven.
“A lot has happened between the release of that record and now,” she continues. “I wrote a lot about love on my first record, but I decided to change genres because I felt like I needed to sing about faith and God, especially at a time like this with so many with national disasters, violence, terrorism, poverty, human trafficking… a lot of bad stuff going on. If my music can in any way inspire faith or bring peace into people’s hearts, I feel like I would’ve served God well. He gave me this voice and I felt like it was time to use it to serve him rather than serve myself.
Laura admits that she allowed herself and her priorities to be a bit compromised through the whirlwind of her last album, which featured the lead and title track garnering nearly 30,000 YouTube views for the video shot by award winning director Mike Lipscombe (Faith Hill, Tom Petty, Jewel, Bryan Adams) in Australia. “Soul Deep” also enjoyed exposure by inclusion on the United Airlines inflight program, and was on the Upfront Club Top 40 in 2003, reaching No. 4.
On “Soul Deep,” press compared her to Sarah Brightman, Sarah McLaughlin, and Sade and music critics called her classically-trained voice “a voice blessed with uncommon purity” and described her music as “gorgeous pop music with operatic vocal, musical explorations of love and longing driven by hypnotic rhythms and a deep, sensual spirituality.”
Of that time, Laura says, “I was like a tumble weed and went where the wind blew, compromised a lot along the way, and let the industry take hold of me. It was a heartbreaking time for me and I was headed down a road I shouldn’t have. But, I’m back on track. My priorities have changed and it’s helped make me a better person and I think it’s brought even more depth and emotional range to my music because I’m finally singing and writing songs with a true purpose.”
One such song is the title track, “Voice of Heaven,” written by Jeff Peabody and Scott Krippayne, which was brought to her by Voice of Heaven producer Keith Thomas, a Grammy Award-winning producer and songwriter with 40 No. 1 Billboard hits under his belt and an impressive discography that includes Amy Grant, Vanessa Williams, Bebe and CeCe Winans, Luther Vandross, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, and Gladys Knight.
“When I first heard ‘Voice of Heaven,’ I thought what an awesome prayer for the world right now. There’s a lyric that goes, ‘Wake our hearts/Break our chains,’ and it sounded like a wakeup call. I knew this was the direction I wanted to go,” says Laura, who cites contemporary Christian artists Natalie Grant and Christy Nockles, AC/pop superstar Sarah McLachlan, and country star Carrie Underwood as her main musical loves these days.
“Perfect Trinity,” which she co-wrote with Jeremy Bose and penned all of the lyrics, is about her struggle through her last album cycle. “It’s kind of a rise from the ashes song asking for redemption and being grateful for a second chance. It’s about being convicted of what I had done and just realizing the grace and mercy that God has and that I’m able to come back from that,” she explains.
Of “Arms of Love,” which was co-written with Allan Hall, the singer/songwriter says, “As the lyrics say, it’s a ‘Through the fire/Through the rain/There’s a peace appears when I say your name’ type of song about faith. It’s my heart pouring out in thanks and stepping out in faith.” As for the more pop-leaning “I Cry,” Laura explains, “This song expresses some of the ugly things that we deal with in this world – from gang violence to addiction to starvation and more. The chorus (“Heartache brings on redemptions/There is power in conviction”) points out that unfortunately sometimes hearts have to break before we realize we need to wake up and be convicted to step out and make a change.”
The traditional prayer, “The Lord’s Prayer,” is something Laura has sung at many weddings and funerals in her life and has always dreamed of recording it herself. “I felt like I have a great producer in Keith Thomas, so if this is the last thing I record with this amazing producer, I had to do it. I also wanted to leave something special to my kids, my grandkids one day. I just love it so much,” she says.
Laura’s love of music started as a little girl growing up in Houston, where she’d sing at her grandmother’s piano at Christmas parties and had parents who exposed her to everything from classical music to country to pop to church music. With near perfect pitch and a three-octave range, Laura explored her creative side by attending a performing arts high school where she performed in the choir, musicals and took guitar lessons. She continued to follow her dreams through college where she earned a degree in vocal performance at Salem College of Music in North Carolina and was classically trained at the Chigiana School of Music in Siena, Italy under a coach from the famed Julliard School of Music.
It’s this deep and diverse musical upbringing and ever-growing commitment to faith that has made Laura the artist she is today – an artist who finally knows who she is and what she wants and has let it all pour out onto six uplifting beautifully crafted songs on Voice of Heaven that show off not only her vocal prowess, but her heart and soul like never before. She also shows her commitment to her faith with the Christmas 2013 release of her first book, “A Christmas To Remember,” which features a three-song CD with the songs “Mary Sweet Mary,” “Come As You Are,” and “The Lord’s Prayer.” The book tells the story of the true meaning of Christmas as told through Laura’s own childhood experiences.
No matter where Voice of Heaven takes her, Laura already has all of the success she needs. “I’ve learned that the true test for success in life is not what you give the world professionally, but the amount of love that you leave behind. But, what I do give professionally, though, I hope brings love, healing, peace and inspiration to those who hear it,” adds Laura.
Written by: Carrie Borzillo