When your ‘normal’ childhood mealtime conversations were conducted in three-part harmony, it was only natural that Laura Oakes would treat life as one big singalong. Her love for Dolly Parton, David Gates and the Dixie Chicks may seem an unusual music taste for a teenager from Liverpool, North West England but in her teenage years Laura really started to embrace her influences and differences allowing her to stand out from the other teenage wannabes from Liverpool in the noughties. Spending every spare moment honing both her voice and stagecraft was always a passion and never a chore, and with the full blessing of her family young Laura was doing both, performing the hits of her Country idols anywhere and everywhere, from a very early age.
The oft-told tale of how Laura persuaded her parents to trade in the expense her coming of age celebration for a trip to visit the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville may sound fairy tale, but it is completely true. 18 year old Laura really did celebrate her birthday staring up at Carrie Underwood at the Bridgestone Arena. From then, Laura lost her heart to Tennessee. Those days transformed a teenage dream into a titanium coated aim of writing and singing country music forever.
And so far so good. Laura’s story is already heading toward a happy ending. A music degree under her belt, she released her debut record in the summer of 2015. The eponymous EP received superb support from BBC radio across Nations and Regions, and from DAB Radio in the form of Chris Country and those arbiters of great taste Amazing Radio. BBC Radio 2 even included it in Bob Harris’ Best of the Year retrospective. Her timing couldn’t have been better.
The UK country scene is one that is growing at a rapid pace and Laura has been at the forefront of it, winning ‘Best Female Vocalist’ at the British Country Music Awards for two consecutive years and generally being a highly visible flag bearer for the form. Both mainstream and Country music festivals have taken Laura to their heart, with her band gracing the UK’s most prestigious stages including C2C, The Long Road, Liverpool Sound City, The Great Escape, Black Deer, Cottingham Folk Festival, Secret Garden Party, Cornbury Music Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival and Camp Bestival. Laura has also toured with and made friends of some of the most notable talent coming out of the UK and US, such as Devin Dawson, Lauren Alaina, Lauren Jenkins, Andrew Combs, The Shires, The Wandering Hearts, Catherine McGrath, Twinnie, Colm Mac Com Iomaire (The Frames) and Ward Thomas.
Oakes’ special acoustic edition of the ‘Nashville Stole Your Girl’ EP reached number 3 in the iTunes UK Country Music Chart and received enough critical acclaim to lead to her first live session on Bob Harris’ BBC Radio 2 show.
Since graduation, Laura has returned to Nashville repeatedly – often to perform but mostly to co-write with some of the world’s greatest songwriters including Jeff Cohen (The Band Perry), Beth Nielsen Chapman (Faith Hill), Leslie Satcher, Ray Kennedy, James T Slater, Philip White, Mike Fiorentino, Chris Lindsey, Katelyn Clampett, Jason Lehning and Palmer Lee. Nashville is the home of songwriting, spend any time there and you understand why. It’s all about developing your craft; if it’s not in the melody, no amount of production is going to make it a great song. Laura is growing into a phenomenal songwriter, with that side of her talent catching up with her innate stagecraft and her perfect vocals. Which is verified by her recent worldwide tour with Tom Walker’s touring band and performing as a feature vocalist singing Zara Larsson’s part of ‘Now Your Gone’. In recent weeks Laura has been back in the studio with Alex Lanyon to lay down her favourite new songs. These are currently receiving that extra sprinkling of Laura Oakes glitter before being unveiled to an audience hungry for new tunes in early 2020.
With support from Sabine