It wasn’t Laura Izibor’s childhood dream to come to the U.S. and make it big as a soul singer. “I wasn’t one of those kids that sang into their hairbrush,” the Ireland-born vocalist said. “I was a real tomboy. I played sports and I wanted to be a basketball player. But fate had it differently.” She said she started singing by accident at age 13 when a teacher assigned her to sing for the class.
“She said, ‘Whoa, Laurie, you can sing!’ I said, ‘Really?’ It took me like a year to accept that I could sing. Then I started teaching myself the piano. Then by 15 I was on a mission.” She signed her first record deal with Jive Records on her 17th birthday. When Steve Lunt, the A&R executive who signed her, left Jive for Atlantic Records, she followed him.
It was a smart decision. Her first album Let The Truth be Told debuted on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart at #6. Although part of Steve’s claim to fame is that he developed Britney Spears, Laura said she’s glad she didn’t hold that against him. “He actually turned out to be the biggest soul head,” she said. “Atlantic is the perfect home, given the heritage: All of my acts that I look up to were on this label—Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Roberta Flack.”
Laura’s lead single “From My Heart to Yours” has a classic soul sound that gives a nod to her influences. The interesting thing about those influences is that Laura’s mother didn’t play soul music at home in Ireland. “It was something I found myself. Ireland doesn’t really have a scene. There were radio stations that would play soul records and that’s kind of how I discovered it. When I heard ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ by Sam Cooke I was like, ‘Wow what’s that?’ Then I heard a lot of James Brown and I loved it.”
Laura has been stunning American audiences with her soulful performances all year. She toured with Maxwell this summer and is finishing up a tour with John Legend before heading overseas to do shows in Indonesia then winding up the tour in her motherland, Ireland.
—Sabrina M. Parker