Lauren Ray on her return to Norwich to support Rebecca Ferguson
- Credit: Rebecca Miller
The nomadic singer-songwriter, who had a spell living in Norwich, now splits her time between London and Nashville, where she recorded her self-financed debut album and recent single Two Days.
Having spent most of her life moving house, the nomadic singer-songwriter Lauren Ray feels most at home on stage and she will be in Norwich to support for Rebecca Ferguson.
With a South African/Polish father and English/Irish mother, singer/songwriter, Lauren grew up living in Poland, Austria and eventually the UK – moving frequently from Chester, Amersham, Brighton and a spell living in Norwich, before eventually settling in London to pursue music.
But it didn't come easy. After getting a degree in Anthropology from Sussex University, she spent her time performing in central London hotels.
After years of gigging and writing but no traditional label in sight, Lauren took matters into her own hands by securing a bank loan and self-funded the recording and release of her debut album, We Will Need Courage.
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With a number of new songs written with hit songwriter Martin Sutton (best known for his work with Leann Rimes) under her belt and Nashville producer Neilson Hubbard on board, the album showcases Ray's velvety smooth and effortlessly sultry tones. Highlights include singles Come To Me and Drive which received radio airplay as well as support from BBC introducing.
She released a surprise new single, Two Days, just before Christmas, also recorded in Nashville, based on a Mark Twain quote, the sentiment of which is 'there are two days in everyone's life that matter the most, the day you are born and the day you know why'.
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Having performed live at Norwich's Caffe Nero in 2016, she was last in the region to support X Factor's Lucy Spraggan at the end of last year. She is back to support Scouse soulstress Rebecca Ferguson at the UEA LCR.
People have compared you to Alison Krauss and Norah Jones but who would you most like to sit down and write a song with?
I have a huge amount of respect for so many songwriters out there and the list of 'who I'd like to write with' is endless. However, in order to answer the question as briefly as possible here are three contemporary female writers who I'd absolutely love to write with; Laura Marling, Emili Sande and Lucie Silvas.
You've taken an interesting approach to the business aspects of your music. What made you think a bank loan to fund your album was a good idea?
Whilst there are so many amazing options out there for independent artists to self-fund their projects these days — Kickstarter and PRS Momentum funding being two that immediately come to mind — however if you are starting with a relatively small fanbase or haven't received any press or radio support these options may not be viable options to you. I just wanted to create an album that I wanted and that I would be proud of and so I felt like I needed to be the one to take the financial risk to make it happen. I got a bank loan to pay for recording costs in Nashville and then I bought a car so I could tour the album self-sufficiently. I still have some of my loan still to pay off but it's more than manageable and I have absolutely no regrets about taking the risk because my album We Will Need Courage has brought about some amazing opportunities that I otherwise wouldn't have.
It seems like you have spent your life moving around, includinf briefly in Norwich. Where in the world do you feel most at home?
Moving around so much growing up means I can now make anywhere feel like home pretty quickly; if I have my home comforts then I'm happy. I'd love to live abroad again one day and I'm lucky because my music is allowing me to travel more and more these days but I do think that the UK will always be my home now because I've been here since I was nine and my family are mostly all here and I have a great group of friends that are like my second family.
You are heading our way in support of Rebecca Ferguson and were last here in support of another X Factor singer Lucy Spraggan. How do you find being on tour?
Touring with Lucy was an amazing experience, one that I am incredibly grateful for. It was my first time taking on the support role for another artist's entire tour and I am lucky because Lucy, her wife Georgina and her team were all super lovely and quick to give me advice. It was a big learning curve for me. It was a lot of dates and a lot of driving on my own so my main focus for the tour was stay healthy and develop as an artist and performer every single night.
• Lauren Ray will be supporting Rebecca Ferguson at UEA LCR, Norwich, on February 17, 6.30pm, £27.50, 01603 508050, ueaticketbookings.co.uk• Her album We Will Need Courage is out now and available via laurenraymusic.com