“The songs on my albums, although they’re mostly instrumental, each carry a lot of meaning with them. I have a very vivid image in my head when I write, which I try to convey musically and melodically. My goal is to get you to feel what I’m feeling, without using words.” ~ Laurie Z.
It may be easier to define the music of Laurie Z. by what it is, rather than by what it isn’t. Laurie Z.’s music demonstrates great depth, intensity and sophistication in her richly textured melodic songs. And although it’s easy to understand how her highly-textured instrumental music can be lumped into the new age, adult or jazz categories, when asked to define her music Laurie was quick to describe it as Contemporary Instrumental.
Classically trained from the age of 4, and composing since the age of sixteen, Laurie’s education and experience went well beyond the bounds of classical music. She played in rock bands all through high school and college, although she did not major in music. In fact, Laurie did not take any music classes while attending Cal State Northridge because she didn't have any faith in her abilities as a musician. Yet her ability to gracefully mix classical, modern jazz and contemporary instrumental styles has been called “absolutely amazing” by prominent music critics and fans alike. Influenced by a host of songwriters past and present like Mozart, Beethoven, Beatles, Bruce Hornsby, Elton John, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd and Carole King, Laurie’s background included everything from classical to rock and roll. She incorporated the pop sensibilities of Elton John and influences of Bruce Hornsby while taking an intelligent and playful approach to modern music that is heard over the airwaves on hundreds of radio stations around the world.
Her titles include:
Window to the World
Life Between The Lines
Roots, The Solo Piano Album
Heart of the Holidays
The Heart’s Journey
Common Ground (Digital Release)
Roots was considered for eight Grammy nominations. Roots, The Solo Piano Songbook was created after many fans requested copies of the sheet music. Life Between The Lines was named "New Age Album of the Year" by Scott Brodie of CHRW 94.7 FM, Canada. Heart of the Holidays breaks new artistic ground with creative new interpretations of holiday standards and two original compositions by Laurie Z. Vocals on Heart of the Holidays by husband Michael Carter, Guy Tanner and The Heart Choir, are warm and uplifting, and special guest, actor Jack Palance, adds a delightful playfulness to the recording which is steadily growing as a holiday favorite among many. The Heart’s Journey, a relaxation program presented by hypnotherapist Ron Stubbs, with music composed and performed by Laurie Z., was considered for seven Grammy nominations.
Before embarking on a solo career and forming her own band, Laurie performed in jazz and rock bands and as a backup musician. Her first job in the music industry was at Kawai. Laurie was considered by many to be a “trailblazer” as one of the first female musicians to familiarize herself with MIDI. She recorded for Malcolm Cecil - inventor of the unique TONTO synthesizer - who had a company, EMPH Inc., "Electronic Music Publishing House." EMPH, Inc. released the very first MIDI recording and playback software (MIDIPLAY) for the now obsolete Atari 1040 computer. Laurie was involved in recording MIDI versions of songs for that program which were sold as "Musidiscs." Laurie was one of several musicians employed, along with the late Nicky Hopkins. Only three Musidiscs were ever released - Beatles songs, Christmas music and some Grammy winning songs from 1986, and Laurie Z. recorded on all of them.
Laurie's love for popular music profoundly influenced her stylistic development and Laurie was well-known for her masterful in-concert improvisational compositions. Laurie Z. concerts were frequently mentioned as a ‘Top Pick’ in the Los Angeles Times. Her concert performances often included audience participation where she would ask for a subject idea and musical key from the audience from which she would improvise a song. "Roots - The Solo Piano Album," for which Laurie received 8 Grammy nomination considerations, was recorded live and to Yamaha’s Disklavier, without edits or overdubs. Half of the songs on the "Roots" album were improvised during the live recording sessions.
Between 1989 and 1994 children and adults alike happily gathered around Disneyland’s stage at Tomorrowland to enjoy Laurie performing with the group ‘Voyager.’ Many enjoyed listening to Laurie Z. at Nordstrom stores where she performed regularly and her concerts with her “Z” band around the South Bay, at the South Bay Galleria, at Borders Bookstores, and as regular performers at First Night were always well attended. Laurie also played organ for the Mighty Ducks inaugural season and will always be fondly remembered by many as ‘The Peterbilt Girl,’ performing nationally for more than a decade for Peterbilt Motors Company.
Laurie played national tours for Alesis and Yamaha and represented Roland and Kawai products. She opened for top instrumentalists like Herbie Hancock, Leo Kottke and Tim Wesiburg. Dolby Labs confirmed the audiophile quality of her recordings by licensing their use and shipping them along with the Dolby Surround Sound unit used by movie theatres and studios nationwide. Laurie was featured in Keyboard magazine’s “Independent Success Stories” and her own seminars, designed to unselfishly help other Independents, were always to standing room only crowds. Laurie's music has also been included on compilations produced in the U.S. and Brazil.
When Laurie and husband Michael Carter moved to Camano Island, Washington to be closer to family, their strong sense of community provided another avenue for Laurie to not only share her music with the world, but to help raise funds for charities like Housing Hope.
Her life, her emotions, her soul...every note on her albums are a gift from the heart.
Thank you Laurie. You are missed.
Laurie Z.® and Zebra Productions® are registered trademarks