Soul Singer Lauren Mitchell Follows Her Musical Heart
"My first solo singing performance happened in church!" recalls Lauren Mitchell, a woman who, in only a few short years, has crafted a singular, unmistakable voice in the world of blues. "I'd been a member of the chorus for productions, but performing in my grandparent's church was the first time I stood on my own and opened my mouth to sing for an audience."
Lauren remembers being frightened and a little nervous but she also remembers that, as she looked out over the faces in the congregation, "it wasn't too scary-and all those people knew me and loved me and wanted me to succeed."
And succeed she has. The Lauren Mitchell Band is a tour de force, performing around 250 dates per year, nationally and internationally. Lauren and her band perform in concert halls, venues, historic honky tonks, and festivals. She's put together a stellar blues group led by Hammond B3 aficionado, "The Professor" Michael Hensley, and is proud of the fact that she spends a lot of time "in a van, with a bunch of seasoned veteran players, being schooled in the blues!"
Lauren's love of music was passed to her from her grandparents and parents. "My grandfather was a guitarist and my grandmother was a singer. They both also played organ. They met when my grandmother auditioned for the bluegrass/country band my grandfather led. My mom also sang in the church choir and there was always music in the home." Lauren remembers her dad playing guitar. "My favorite tune he played was Mr. Bojangles. I grew up listening to Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight and Fatz Waller and Jelly Roll Morton. My education in soul and blues came from listening to music my parents listened to." Lauren cites Etta James as profoundly influencing her sound. "People recognize the Etta influence," says Lauren. "Our music is definitely more soul that straight blues."
Lauren's gift was recognized by her parents and professional voice lessons became a part of her early life. "I sang opera and theater music through college. I stumbled on Janis Joplin and she deeply impacted my singing. I learned Bobby McGee, of course!" A chance encounter with a Karaoke contest set Lauren's musical path in stone. "My friends insisted I sing Bobby McGee and I won the contest and a hundred bucks! I thought, Ã¢ÂÂMan, maybe I should just keep singing this stuff!'" Lauren started digging in to the blues and despite a few meandering career choices (bartending, makeup artist, managing a restaurant) Lauren finally made a heart decision to make music her livelihood.
"I met Michael Hensley in 2005 and we launched The Lauren Mitchell Band in 2011. We haven't looked back since then!" says Lauren.
The Lauren Mitchell Band is releasing Live! From The Bradfordville Blues Club in May of 2014 late this summer. The record follows up the band's first release, Please Come Home. "Our fans liked the first record but said it didn't quite represent the feel and energy of our live performances," says Lauren. "Bradfordville Blues Club is known for fabulous sound and it's a historic juke joint. The place is alive with the musical spirits of Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, John Lee Hooker and James Cotton, to name just a few. When you play music that comes from a place in history that is so rich and so significant to our culture, recording music where legendary figures also played is just magical."
Lauren Mitchell has come a long way from that little girl singing in front of her church congregation. She's now a touring, professional blues singer, fronting a band and wowing audiences along the way. Audiences that know her, love her, and are sure she's succeeding in every musical way.