Sep 13 2011
This week, I’m jazzed to introduce my guest, Laura Cheadle. Her billing goes like this: “Not just a thoughtful singer-songwriter, and not just a soulful funk diva, musician Laura Cheadle offers audiences a lively performance filled with upbeat introspection.”
I’m thrilled to have such a talented funk mistress as my guest this week. Please, Laura, tell the cool peeps about yourself.
I am a born-and-raised New Jersey girl. I’m a funky singer-songwriter who performs with my all-family band!
When did your passion for music begin? Did you always know this was what you wanted to do?
I truly believe my passion for music began at birth 🙂 I was groovin’ my way out of the womb. It’s not just that I knew this is what I wanted to do, it’s what I knew I HAD to do to feel complete. Music is like a best friend to me that holds my hand through any and every emotion and guides me through it all.
(Laura Cheadle singing at age two (Bonus Track of “Change (It’s Alright)” Album)
How would you describe your personal style of music?
I would say my personal style of music is a “Funky Singer-Songwriter.” I write songs with deeper heartfelt lyrics and also include a mixture of funk, soul, blues, pop and jazz within the music.
Music is truly a family affair for you. Your dad and your identical twin brothers are part of your band. And your mom is the band’s biggest fan. Would you introduce us to these fine people?
Absolutely! My biggest inspiration is my father James “Papa” Cheadle who plays keyboard in the band. He has been around for over 30 years and can be heard on many recordings including his own fusion band Sahara, which recorded for Columbia Records during the late 1970s. Sahara opened for such bands as Chick Corea and Michael Urbaniak at several top Philadelphia venues. I could go on and on about him. I’ll provide a link for him at the end of this interview.
My brother Jimmy Lee Cheadle plays amazing lead guitar in the band along with my other brother and his identical twin brother Nick Cheadle who plays second keyboard in the band. My brothers and I actually had a band when we were younger called “Sibling” where I sang and played drums 🙂
My drummer Ben Smith is an “Honorary Cheadle.”
The band really, truly feels complete now and we all have such a great time at every single performance. A very important honorary member of the band is my mom, Sue Cheadle who gives me great material on stage when she is in the audience. 🙂
I know you’re very excited about your latest CD, “Change (It’s Alright).” Please, tell us about the themes in this CD and why they mean so much to you.
Change (It’s Alright) is an album that is one hundred percent my heart and soul. This album has themes of not only love, but personal growth and changes I wish to see in the world. Musically, this album features elements of soul, pop, funk, R&B and even folk. I really expressed myself in this work and learned so much about myself as well. My song “Blue Sky” is my anthem at this time of my life. It’s about never changing myself and always being completely true. I had amazing people that worked on this album with me. My father James S. Cheadle produced, played on, recorded and wrote music on this album. The great harmonica player Steve Guyger is featured as well as Tony Sailer on violin. My brothers and even my mother are also featured! My best friend from childhood Nora Targonski co-wrote with me on lyrics, too!
The song “Hey There Devil” is your favorite song from the CD “Change (It’s Alright). Tell us how the song came about and why you have such powerful feelings about it.
As I just previously mentioned, my best friend from childhood, Nora Targonski, co-wrote lyrics with me on this album. Nora is one of those people where musically, it just clicks and our ideas become one. We wrote the lyrics for this song five years before it was recorded for this album. This song is about a person in your life that you are dating but you know they’re not right for you but you just keep going back to them. I had been trying to write the perfect music for these intense lyrics and could never quite make it right. Finally, as we started the process of recording “Change (It’s Alright),” I sang the lyrics to my dad and he came up with the music. It instantly felt perfect and I sang it in one take. The marriage between the music and lyrics really sum up the tone of the song I was looking for and it was worth the wait!
Your upcoming CD will be your new LIVE album, a collection of recordings from your recent Philadelphia area performances. With all of the shows you’ve done, was it difficult to choose your favorites for this CD? That said, would you tell us about some of them?
Yes, it has been a difficult process choosing my favorites but it became easier based on the audience reactions on the recordings. I have so much fun at my shows with the audience (and even having the audience sing along with me) so this new live album will be featuring a TON of audience reaction and fun with my family on stage!
(L-R: Drummer Ben Smith, James S. Cheadle, Laura, and Andy Macaleer. Andy is sporting Laura’s “Stay Funky” T-Shirt in the photo. He is the professor of a “Funk Class” at Drexel University where Laura recently performed.)
I know there is some touring in your future. What lucky cities will be honored with your presence? Any dates yet?
Absolutely! I am currently adding to my full tour schedule but currently I’ll be in New Hope, PA, Philadelphia, PA, NYC, Minnesota, Miami and more to come! Full schedule TBA at http://www.lauracheadle.com/dates.php I look forward to touring!
You’re a big jazz fan. Who are some of the artists who have inspired you along the way? Who might we find you listening to when you’re not working?
I have to go with the greats: Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday. Although, my favorite thing to do is put on my local jazz station at night (It’s the best when it’s raining for some reason) and just feel what jazz is currently being aired on the station.
You’ve opened for such acts as The Jonas Brothers, Sister Hazel, and The Spin Doctors. Can you tell us about those experiences?
It’s always a great experience opening for an artist and a new audience. I soak up the new environment and give it my all. All of these experiences were very positive and I happily walked away with new fans and great memories.
What haven’t I asked that is a must-know about you?
Well, I am a very strict vegan and I live on tofu and broccoli with sauce on the side and brown rice. 🙂 Ha ha. I also run nine miles a day. It’s such a natural high and makes me feel amazing. It gets me ready for all that dancing I do on stage!
You’ve got a lot of energy and are very focused on your career. What do you see for yourself down the road? Anything you can share?
I honestly just see myself always performing and staying true to myself and to my music. I live for this and it will always be a part of me and I will always share it. It’s a passion that I can share with my family/friends/fans and that, to me, makes life worth living.
I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?
Ha ha. I am very picky about what I eat just because it can be a challenge for me to find vegan food in just any restaurant. Although, I’m always safe in an Asian Restaurant!
Where can peeps find you and your music in cyberspace?
Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs?
And be sure to check my Tour Schedule
You can also buy any of my five Albums out (Including A Christmas Album) and my new “Stay Funky” T-Shirts at: My Store
I will personally ship it all out to you!
My music is also available on iTunes 🙂