Laurie Katherine Carlsson

Laurie Katherine Carlsson


Laurie Katherine Carlsson performs a zesty mix of mildy folky pop-rock chalked full of melodic piano lines, fervent acoustic guitar rhythms, and soaring vocals. Influences include Indigo Girls, Ani Difranco, Ben Folds, and Carole King.


Sometimes the path to an obvious destination takes some interesting twists and turns. Seattle singer/songwriter Laurie Katherine Carlsson was born in hippie-friendly Bellingham, Washington, to two music teachers. Much like "Family Ties'" Alex P. Keaton, though, she reacted to her liberal environment by becoming the opposite.

"My dream was to attend Middlebury College and become a marketing director," she laughs. "Through high school, I was politically to the right of everyone I knew. You would think I would've gone straight from the womb to the piano, but always needing to be different led me down a more conservative path."

But even conservatives can't completely stymie their creative urges, and Carlsson found her outlet through singing – first in church choir, then in high school choirs. Eventually, her hobby (and nonconformist tendencies) landed her a slot in the decidedly unconservative multi-cultural touring production, "Up With People."

"That was a trip!" chuckles Carlsson. "Our particular cast was made up of 140 people from 24 different countries. We traveled in three coach buses across the U.S., performing at community centers and colleges and staying with host families. In all, I traveled to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and here. I entered the program as a choral singer and exited as a soloist. And I definitely left with a new definition of 'hard work'!"

While it was during her time with Up With People that Carlsson received a pamphlet on Berklee that piqued her interest, she still hadn't settle on music as a career option.

"I can't recall any sort of epiphany where I realized that music was my calling," explains the songwriter, who didn't start playing guitar until she was 21. "It sucked me in slowly. I picked up a guitar and learned to play an Indigo Girls song (that would be "Blood and Fire," for the record.) I wrote some poetry and set it to music. I made the decision to go to music school (the prestigious Berklee College of Music). I booked my first gig and scrambled to write four more songs to fill out my set. I put out a record. I searched for bandmates, And one morning I woke up and knew that music was it for me."

The fact that music wasn't an obvious career choice seems strange, given the effortless ease and grace of Carlsson's music. Her clear voice and lilting melodies are the anchor for emotionally resonant songs that blend the folk influences she was raised on (Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carole King) with inspiration from modern pop-rock acts
like Ben Folds, Wilco and Jonatha Brooke.

Music from Carlsson's debut album, "Life Is Made Of," has been featured in Starbucks stores across the States, and her open-hearted, instantly memorable songs have been winning over an ever-expanding audience that includes rarely impressed industry types like Jason Ferguson, the booking manager of the Moore and Paramount Theaters in
Seattle, who unequivocally calls her an "artist to watch."

Like her musical influences, Carlsson's lyrical inspiration comes from a classic place – relationships.

"I write about boys," Carlsson says forthrightly. "A lot. Too much! Songwriting makes break-ups tolerable. If I had a nickel for every time someone said, "At least it'll make for good songwriting material…

"But they're right," she laughs. "I recently wrote a song about a break-up and then wrote one after it called 'Trade You For A Song.' The existence of that song made the pain of the break-up almost worthwhile.

"I have a giant fear of coming across as cheesy," she continues. "But perhaps I am cheesy and just need to embrace that fact."

Carlsson needn't worry about coming across as trite. Her songs adeptly display a grasp of life's complexities. In "Like Song," she tells a potential paramour that "This is not a love song/crafted from your body/I guess this is a like song/forgive me if it comes out oddly." It's a testament to the friendship that needs to exist behind any real relationship.

For now, you can catch Carlsson and her band at better venues around the Northwest, supporting their new self-titled EP. But keep your eyes and ears open – this is an artist with long-term goals, the talent to accomplish them and a healthy dose of tunnel vision.

"I often think what my life would be like if I didn't have music to obsess about," she muses. "What would replace the highs and lows that spur me on? The crushing emptiness of a barren inbox. The barely missed opening slot for Shawn Colvin. All balanced out by the excitement of one perfect chorus, one landed show, one person's words of encouragement. I know that I couldn't have it any other way."


"Will I Ever See" 2001
"Life Is Made Of" 2003
Eponymous EP 2006

Set List

Sets range from 45-90 minutes. Covers often include Dylan's "Your Gonna Make Me Lonesome" and "Buckets of Rain", Lennon's "Across the Universe", the Indigo Girls' "Blood and Fire", Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You"