Musical Profile: Laura McGhee
Laura’s talent is immense and her music full of heart…,I hope you get to hear Laura sometime. She’s a terrific musician and … You’ll find these tunes getting in your head and your voice humming along!
Laura McGhee performed together with Shades Mountain Air on Saturday evening, then came and performed at our church on Sunday morning, doing her two beautiful compositions, “Roxburghe House” and “Commemoration,” the former a musical reflection on a house in Scotland where hospice work now takes place, the latter a piece she composed for a 9-11 memorial in New York. Set in the context of worship, they affected the congregation deeply. It was quite a weekend, one in which I was able to spend more time than I often do with a fellow performer in a co-bill.
I met Laura last year when we shared a performance at Moonlight on the Mountain in Hoover, Alabama, near where I live. It was a delightful evening, and her talent and musical chops were evident to all of us. When our host on Saturday evening scheduled a retirement party for all of her friends this weekend at the same listening room, she and I agreed to see if Laura could come. She came down and our band learned many of her songs beforehand (the internet is GOOD!) and she did likewise. With about two hours to go over it ahead of time, we were able to put together a seamless evening of music in which we functioned, essentially, as one band, featuring her songs in one half and ours in the other.
Laura’s talent is immense and her music full of heart. I especially appreciate her lilting melodies, that soar and bend, taking the listener many places. As one who has learned the chord changes on “Steppin’ Stone,” I can attest to the deceptive ease of her playing—it underlies a studied complexity that test her backup musicians, but comes off to the audience with ease and joy, never calling attention to itself. She likes a little unexpected turn here and there. She reminds me at times of the great Stuart Duncan, a Nashville fiddler I consider one of the best anywhere.
Her songwriting is equally studied and sturdy. Energy, passion, and hard work are clear. Her guitar work is improving each time I hear her. It was a fun, fun evening for all. She writes from the heart and with great energy.
Laura’s background at the Royal Academy in Glasgow—she told me at lunch she had dedicated herself to four hours a day of practice for four years—shows in the ease and clarity of her playing. Every note comes crystal clear and her technique is obvious.
One of the joys of music, even for a part-timer like myself, is the joy of community. Laura McGhee is one who relishes the community of musicians. While she is fervently dedicated to her own path, she also is clear in her delight in joining, playing with and respecting others. Laura brings everything we Americans love about the Scottish heritage we cherish so much in the South as part of our own, and is always learning and absorbing our crazy, quilted musical cloth. Call it a melting cauldron if you will.
I hope you get to hear Laura sometime. She’s a terrific musician and a terrific person. I have her CDs and suggest you get them, too. You’ll find these tunes getting in your head and your voice humming along!
Posted on January 13, 2014, in 9-11, Art, Bluegrass, Concert, Country Music, Creativity, Culture, fiddle tunes, Music, September 11, Songwriting, Songwriting, Theology and tagged 9-11, Americana, Bluegrass, classical, Commemoration, country music, fiddle, folk, Gary Furr, Glasgow, Laura McGhee, Moonlight on the mountain, Roxburghe House, Royal Academy, Scotch Irish, Scotland, Shades Mountain Air, singer songwriter, Stuart Duncan, violin. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Musical Profile: Laura McGhee.