Joni Laurence

Joni Laurence

BandFolkAcoustic

Joni Laurence is a singer-songwriter of the modern folk kind. With vocal stylings a combination of Mary-Chapin Carpenter and Helen Reddy, Joni has a unique and soul-stirring talent for translating the human experience into insightful lyrics and unforgettable music.

Biography

In her fourth full-length recording, With No Apology, Portland-based singer-songwriter Joni Laurence presents a collection of songs from the rockier side of folk, song written during the two years after she left her day job to face the challenges and rewards of pursuing her passion for making music.

With No Apology, recorded live in Urbana, IL with the generous financial support of her loyal fan base in central Illinois and beyond, maintains the eclectic flavor of its predecessor, Trashbag Birdie (2004). Innocent Words Magazine wrote of Trashbag Birdie, “Joni mixes the eclectic styles of blues, country, folk and jazz on her album, with songs that could be described as easy listening outside of the elevator.”

But on her latest effort, Laurence introduces a somewhat edgier and more vulnerable self, revealing the darker and more difficult side of relationships. As with most all of Laurence’s songs, however, she finds light in the darkness, hope in the despair, and humor in the inane.

Drawn from her own experiences and the stories of those around her, Laurence’s intricate lyrics are the focal point of her songs. Her music is acoustic, grassroots and organic. Laurence considers herself a “singer-songwriter of the modern folk kind” telling stories of real people and life experiences. St. Louis music connoisseur, Beatle Bob writes, in Sauce Magazine, “Laurence's melodies are instantly memorable, and her lyrics show a faith in reconciliation and resurrection. Her voice displays a range and depth with complexity.”

Touring nationally since 2004, Laurence has shared the stage with Patty Larkin, Carrie Newcomer, Cosy Sheridan and John Gorka. Recent highlights include touring in support of well-known singer-songwriter Catie Curtis and performing live on the television program Arts Across Illinois: Center Stage, at WTTW in Chicago, IL, the nation’s third-largest PBS television station.

Joni was born and raised in Quincy, IL. Unlike many of her singer-songwriter contemporaries, singing and learning musical instruments was not nurtured during her childhood. Growing up in a single-parent home, Joni was steered by her mother toward practical endeavors – endeavors that were more likely than music to secure Joni a career and financial stability. A self-taught musician, Joni first picked up the guitar as a college senior and checked out library songbooks that contained her favorite tunes. After graduation, she moved to Champaign, IL where she found her musical voice.

In all, Laurence spent 18 years “growing up” as a singer-songwriter in the Champaign/Urbana community, performing in all-female bands, first “Girlfriends” and later “Dear Connie,” before going solo. Since 1998, Joni has been touring in support of her independently self-released records, which include Short Time (1998), Daphne Speaks (2000), Trashbag Birdie (2004) and the latest edition to her growing catalogue, With No Apology (2006).

It was the support and encouragement of Joni’s fans that prompted her move across the country to Portland, OR, a city known for its progressive acoustic music community. As a recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest, Joni is becoming recognized as the new kid to watch in the local and regional music scenes.

Lyrics

Trashbag Birdie

Written By: Joni Laurence

Wrapped around a fence line, flapping in the breeze.
Shredded old black plastic actin’ like a birdie.
She has dreams of flying way up in the sky.
Sees it from her bird’s eye going higher and higher.

Chorus:
Trashbag birdie fly away, fly away.
Fly away Trashbag birdie, fly, fly away.
Trashbag birdie just let go and fly away.
Fly away Trashbag birdie. Fly, fly, fly, fly away.

A visit from the old black crow and a visit from the hawk.
She tells them of her dreams to fly, but they know that she’s just talkin’.
They know that real wings are made from courage and desire.
And, every time the wind blows hard, she holds tighter to the barbed wire.

Chorus:
Trashbag birdie fly away, fly away.
Fly away Trashbag birdie, fly, fly away.
Trashbag birdie just let go and fly away.
Fly away Trashbag birdie. Fly, fly, fly, fly away.

She hears a voice from below. A broken piece of glass says,
“We are what we believe. I shine like crystal in this grass.
You best let go of all that doubt and take your flight of magic
Before some farmer cuts you down, just a piece of old black plastic.” Oh…

Chorus:
Trashbag birdie fly away, fly away.
Fly away Trashbag birdie, fly, fly away.
Trashbag birdie just let go and fly away.
Fly away Trashbag birdie. Fly, fly, fly, fly away.

Anything

Written By: Joni Laurence

Anything

It’s been a strangely good year for us.
Like this world, we were splitting at the seams.
There were times I could not contain myself and
I oozed out a deep dark pain.

You tried long and hard but finally gave in
To the fear you’d been running from.
Taking the lead in a race going nowhere lead you
Back to where it all began

Chorus:
Let the bomb fall from the sky.
Let the tears fall from your eyes.
Let the levies break. Let your heart ache.
Let the earth split open wide.
‘Cause I am for you and you are for me
And together we can face anything, anything.

I can see why I’m chasing those bright lights,
So I don’t disappear in the dark.
Though our world has seen some troubled times this year,
You’ve been a shining beacon for my heart.

Yeah, you are the gardener digging
Down to the roots of all you feel, and
I am here to be your witness
As your truest self is revealed

Chorus

Bridge:
We have walked. We have run. We have crawled through the rubble.
We have pushed. We have pulled. We have held on through the struggle.
W have fought to keep our love alive, and we have survived.

Chorus

Anything, anything, anything, anything…

Breathing

Written By: Joni Laurence

Breathing

I know what it’s like to feel far away.
Spiraling down in darkness away from a light of day.
I know what it’s like to feel the warm sun
On the first day of spring flooding into my bones.
And, I see you there, holding it in, holding it together.

Chorus:
Let it out, let it in. Let it out, let it in.
It’s like breathing.
Let it out, let it in. Let it out, let it in.
It’s like breathing, breathing.

I know what it’s like to feel all alone
In the company of family, a stranger in my home.
I know what it’s like to feel lifted inside
By the strum of a guitar, a voice that makes me cry.
And, I see you there, holding it in, holding it together.

Chorus

There’s a moment in a deep inhale,
Just no space left inside.
There’s a moment in a deep exhale,
The soul is free to fly.

I know what it’s like to feel love come into me.
A fluttering starts in my chest and goes down to my belly.
And, I am standing here holding it in, holding it together.

Chorus

Discography

With No Apology (2006)
Trashbag Birdie (2004)
daphne speaks (2000)
Short Time (1998)

Set List

I normally play all original tunes, with an occasional cover. I can perform two 45 minute sets or one 90 minute set (or less). Sets include introductions to each song and some interaction with the audience.