LAUREL MARTELL Making the Most of 2012

Posted: January 23, 2012

“She's just lovely – on the inside and the out…and have mercy - can that girl sing!” That's what I said about Laurel Martell when I met her a little over three years ago at the Cape Breton Christmas Daddies Telethon.

Laurel Martell at age 1 with her late grandfather John MacDonaldOf course most everyone on Cape Breton Island could have told you that about Laurel a long time ago.

Since first performing with the Cape Breton Summertime Revue back in 1996 Laurel has found a home on the stage.

A quick tally of her yearly gigs brings you to the one hundred mark without much trouble - so chances are if you've been to CB and you're a fan of live music you’ve seen and loved her too!

And there’s no denying Laurel loves what she does…a natural affinity you might say - what with her Uncle being the late Sid Martell of Cape Breton Barn Dance fame, and her father Lawrence Martell a great singer and musician in his own right.

The oldest of 5 children – Laurel along with Carrie, Kirk, Krista and Erin grew up singing.  Matter of fact Ms. Martell claims her ‘real stage debut’ happened about three decades ago - on a yellow ottoman at her grandparents' house… and she’s been performing ever since.

Right to Left: sister Carrie, brother Kirk and Laurel

And now there's another debut to note – her first album is ready for release and if that weren’t enough, she’s got a brand new tribute show in the works as well.

With so much to celebrate I wanted to get the full scoop from the lady herself – so what follows is our Q&A, as they say, with Laurel Martell.

SABS:  So Ms. Martell - it's fair to say 2012 is going to be one heck of an exciting year for you - we'll get to the rest of it in a bit, but let's start with the coolest..."WHEN IT RAINS" - your debut CD - how does that feel to say?

Laurel Martell "WHEN IT RAINS" debut CDLaurel Martell: It's only January, and the proverbial 'bar' has been set pretty high...the rest of the year is going to be quite a ride!

"WHEN IT RAINS"... my debut CD... wow!! To be honest, I almost STILL can't believe it. It's been a slow process... one that spanned two years, actually. Song selection took quite some time... I didn't have all thirteen cuts picked out at the start. As I found songs that I felt strongly about recording, we added them.  I really wanted the final product to be a fitting representation of 'me'... to be very personal... I think I succeeded in achieving that. Songwriting, photography, graphic design, instrumentation; many of the elements that went into the development of this CD were provided by close friends, who also happen to be extremely talented individuals. Having my sister (Carrie) join me in the studio for "Leader of the Band" was really special.  That song was recorded with my dad in mind (a musician and a carpenter, by trade), it meant a lot to be able to add her vocal to it...and it was her first time singing in a studio, so it was an exciting day all around!  I could go on and on... but it's unlikely that I'll ever find the words to truly express how excited I am over the whole thing.

SABS: You perform with the best on stage - who did you bring into studio for the project?

Laurel Martell: It was quite a feat deciding who to bring in...not because we couldn't find decent musicians, rather there are so many incredible musicians around here to pick from that it was tough to narrow the list down!!

Aaron Lewis & Laurel MartellAaron Lewis produced this project, so I trusted him to bring in the most suitable musicians for the tunes that I had chosen.  Aaron played on a number of tracks himself, along with familiar names such as Fred Lavery, Dave McKeough, Lyndon MacKenzie, Shaun Parris, Richard Burke and Stephen Muise.  Some of the tracks for the Gordie Sampson tunes were recorded in a studio in Nashville then sent to Lakewind where we added our parts and mixed them (the wonders of modern technology, eh?)  So to put it in a nutshell, I sang with some very talented musicians on this CD... some who are great friends of mine, and others whom I've never had the pleasure of meeting.

SABS: It was so great to see you perform the duet you co-wrote with Aaron Lewis “This Time” at his show at the Savoy (01/12/12).  I've seen you perform some incredible covers too...what's the mix on the album.

Laurel Martell micLaurel Martell: I never considered releasing an entire album of covers, although there are a few songs that people will recognize as having been recorded by others.  "I Believe In Us" (Amy Sky), "Separate Ways" (Journey), and "Own Way To Rock" (Burton Cummings) are tunes that I've sung live with my band, and they always seemed to jive well... so I thought, "why not toss 'em into the mix"?  I had recorded "Unmistakable" back in the early 2000s as a demo, and re-record the vocal for this project before discovering that Jo Dee Messina and Beverly Mahood had both recorded and released it in the meantime. Gordie Sampson's demo library provided a number of cuts (including Unmistakable); "There's A Lady" was written by two good friends (and band mates) of mine.  I'm happy that some original material made it to the CD as well...three tracks, to be exact.  Two tracks were co-writes with Aaron (Lewis)..."The Way You Make Me Feel" and "This Time".  Ha ha...funny story about This Time (written back in 2005): Aaron dropped by my place with a CD of some instrumentation that he had recorded, and we had to listen to it in his car because my CD player was on the fritz at the time.  Well, twenty minutes later the tune was done...finished right there while sitting in my driveway in Aaron's little red car!!  I'll never understand why Aaron sold that car... The other co-write is "Evergreen", a tune that Fred Lavery brought to us in the studio one day.  It wasn't finished... but what he had was great... I loved it immediately! It has a real 'Carpenters vibe' to it, which is exactly what Fred had intended.  We tweaked the arrangement, added a couple of verses and it was done!  For me, it was a big deal to write something with Fred... a dream come true, really.  I can cross that off my bucket-list now (Thanks Fred!)

SABS:  Another exciting event you've got coming up is one I know you're truly thrilled about...tell me what folks can expect when they go see "Carpenters Tribute"

Carpenters Tribute posterLaurel Martell: This is not your typical 'tribute'... we are not look-a-likes, or impersonators.  Sorry folks, no polyester jumpsuits, blue eye shadow or pant-legs wider than 6-inches!  We are also not trying to reproduce their music note-for-note; ultimately the sounds produced by Richard and Karen Carpenter could never be duplicated.  We're paying homage to a duo whose brief recording career produced some beautifully timeless sounds that are just not played often enough on commercial radio stations anymore.  We hope to provide folks with an entertaining and engaging (yes... we encourage people to sing along!!!!) evening of Carpenters' favourites that'll send them home with a smile on their face, and a tune in their head!

SABS:  I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours...."Top of the World"...so what's your favourite Carpenters tune?

Carpenters "Top of the World"Laurel Martell: Really? "Top of the World"?  Nice!  Hey, did you know that John Bettis and Richard Carpenter were inspired to write that song as they were en route (via Lear jet) to a concert performance?  Honestly, I can't pick just one... or even a few.  So my answer to that question is -ALL of them!  I am excited to tackle tunes like "Masquerade", "A Song For You", "Rainy Days and Mondays", and "Yesterday Once More" with a full band and lots of harmonies!  We've had one rehearsal already, and it all sounds amazing... I had goose-bumps the whole time...

SABS:  I know there's plenty going on besides...what else do you have in the works?

Laurel Martell: Well, the Carpenters Tribute is certainly the biggest project occupying my musical plate at the moment, but there are more great things to come over the next few months!  I'll be hitting the stage with local Celtic band, Kintyre, for a few gigs... donning my queenly duds and welcoming all my loyal subjects back to the 'kingdom' in May as I (Queen Laurel) and King Terrance (Terrance Murphy) host the 3rd annual Princess Tea Party Fundraiser in support of the Children's Wish Foundation.  There will inevitably be a CD Release event happening at some point (nothing nailed down yet)... and the Wendie Muise Foundation fundraiser at the Savoy in early June.

Laurel Martell photo by Jenn SheppardTo fill in the gaps, my band (Laurel Martell Band) plays regularly at local clubs here (Sydney), and Aaron Lewis and I play the odd two-piece gig... safe to say the risk of boredom is low...at least until mid-June!!

SABS: Before I let you go - did you make any New Year's resolutions?

Laurel Martell: A few years ago I decided to give up the idea of New Year's resolutions...why wait until January 1st to make a positive change?  When I think that I need to shake things up, or tweak my routine for the better... I just do it!!!  :o)

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While you're here check out Laurel's Cool People Profile

For further info on & tickets to the CARPENTERS TRIBUTE Show at the Savoy in Glace Bay, NS on March 4/12 click here

2 Comments »

  1. Hey Laurel , great interview. looking forward to your Carpenters tribute, ( if I had to pick one it would be Evergreen" or all the tea in china or ;)lol lol, so sorry I couldn't
    make it to Aaron's release party, you doing wonderful things in the Cape Breton Music Industry , hope to make it to yours, Give your Dad my Best. (Arlene ) Iona's Dolly Parton 😉 <3

    Comment by Arlene MacDonald — January 24, 2012 @ 2:34 pm


  2. Way to go Lolly! We are sooooo proud of you!

    Comment by Linda MacDonald — January 26, 2012 @ 10:20 am


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