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Laura Siersema

Member sinceMarch 16, 2017
LocationWestern Massachusetts
Artist Biography:
To be a creative artist was born in me -- a most slender thread connected to the core of the earth, through my very being and up beyond into the skies -- a seriousness of such resiliency it could never be broken and take all of life to realize.

Whether music, paint or word, whatever the form, if it takes you by surprise, propels itself through you -- it is your art, a conscious spiritual calling, and your task to bring into the world.

In the arc of my own creative life, my earliest poems and lyrics came from this unconscious place, without thought -- vaguely familial, words hacked out of walls or erupting through an external image -- phrases which I instinctively pieced together. I had grown up surrounded by music, yet my first experience of the truly deep, creative source within myself arrived in dreams and the silence of words and images.

So it was, through prose poems and lyrics of my first three recordings: "When I left loss", a singular phrase that arose as I lay still, became the title of my first album (1999); the dream of a two-story house, pressing unnaturally down upon me, its cover photo. Another dream, a man kneeling at my feet says “love flows like the blood of a river” -- words of such import, I knew they would be the title for a song one day. So, too, the title of my second album (2003).

Free-writing upon a randomly chosen word or image, without editing, provided more material. Full stories articulated on the plumb line of an external image -- a woman wearing a turban on a bus became “Eileen", another leaning forward, clutching at her purse, the central character in “There is a Silence / Rolling of Time”.

During this period I also began to study voice for the first time -- what had been, over years, petrified and buried.

“Talon of the Blackwater and Graces”, title track to my third album (2009), was presaged in a dream I had of black water gushing from a neighboring backyard (a woman's shelter for those transitioning out of abusive situations) into ours -- dark, lyrical material surging out over just a few days. The title itself came from a prose poem I had written years before. Was this the image of a disaster erupting from my own unconscious recollections as a child?

It was only during the process of recording Talon of the Blackwater that my poetry, subsumed in lyric, and my voice, fully became part of my music. I was, in fact, a songwriter and arranger, yet when I first heard the songs on the working demo, I believed someone else must have written them.

Starting in 2008, to my surprise, I began writing pieces for solo piano. One of these was the development of "Aberfan", a song that my mother had written and I had arranged for my second recording. Over the years it has become a full length composition.

Let me tell you the story of Aberfan, which takes me to today.

"I believe that virtually everything that is within a person is revealed in both their speaking or singing voice and their music. And your music is very paradoxical, as I experience it both intuitively and analytically. It’s very simple, really almost so simple that I could believe that you had never taken lessons and yet there’s an intelligence about it that’s informed from an interior place which creates true originality and I’m using that word in its true meaning, “emerging from the origin, the source” as opposed to merely being novel or different. This duality of a simplicity and a uniqueness is very refreshing." Joseph Marcello, The Recorder, speaking in an interview with Laura about her work

"Dreamy, visionary, cutting edge." Holly Hopple, Herndon Festival

"Inspired by greats like guitarist Pat Metheny, Siersema brings the power of her crystalline voice and compositional skills to bear on her third release...understated accompaniments are at times brilliant...Siersema takes the traditional spiritual 'Wade in the Water' and makes it her own with a ghostly arrangement reminiscent of Daniel Lanois's work...the excellent 14-minute 'Along the Fenway' features cellist Eugene Friesen and is strikingly beautiful." Progression, The Quarterly Journal of Progressive Music

“While the voice gives Talon of the Blackwater its beauty, her writing is what gives it depth.” Donnie Moorhouse, The Republican

[Siersema's poems] "lend a riveting, personal touch to the record, and at times cut so deep the hair on the listener’s skin goes on end." Josh Shear, Reminder Publications

“Enthralling and complex music with world-class musicians.” Sheryl Hunter, Greenfield Recorder

"Her voice beckons mercilessly to the physical world like the bodiless spirit that haunts the mansion on a faraway hill. Wanderers beware..." Independent Songwriter Magazine Pick of the Month

“...they should make movies out of music like this.” Holbrook, Jamaica Plain Arts News

“Experimental, serene and surreal...” Sarah Craig, Caffe Lena

"Siersema has power in her words...Some of the songs begin with her reading poetry, and let me tell you, I could sit enraptured listening to a full album of her simply doing sets up the tunes in a fashion that I've never quite experienced before. " Mish Mash Indie Music Reviews

"We LOVE your music." Kelley & Cyrus, Yurt Radio, Hampshire College

“The major labels are always looking for artists who fit in neat categories, to simplify their marketing efforts. Artists know this, and try to make music that will fit. But some artists are driven to make music that falls between the cracks, that fits no musical genre very well at all. Sometimes, there are traces of various musical genres, but combined in unexpected ways. And sometimes there is no genre that can describe the music fairly. Always, these artists show a fierce originality. Some of the best music I have ever heard also defies categorization. Just as the English language is neither French nor German, but is derived from both, this music is a new language, one that speaks eloquently.” (Oliver di Place blog on Laura’s work)

“Folk fans should take note, as well as those that like classical music, and Tori Amos.” Suzie Siegel, Tampa Tribune

"She sings like an angel." Gary Lee, Mt. Wachusett Folk Cafe

"A touch Celtic, a touch New Age, she is uncategorizable, a passion rare in folk music today." John Henry, WCUW, Worcester

“Laura is an acoustic craftsman, a wordsmith…with the soul and lyrics of a true poet…” Indie-Music Reviews

"STUNNING!!!" David Weide, KUNV, Las Vegas

“There are a few who can carry us indenting our souls--by effecting change in the soul whereby the mood is retained and perhaps never to be lost...your music has the power to do just this! You have given a sort of 'storehouse' for our spirit's garden. The places that are in greatest need of nourishment are thereby fulfilled."
in a letter from Vincent Tripi, haiku poet

A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Laura has worked as an independent, creative musician for the past 25 years. Based in western Massachusetts, Vault of the Valley Music is the publishing arm of her creative body, through which she produces and promotes her own music as a composer, songwriter, vocalist and pianist.

Having grown up in Virginia in an atmosphere of live music, records, church and music theater, Laura learned piano, ukulele and guitar at an early age. Before leaving for Berklee College of Music in 1987 to study songwriting, Laura took her first classical voice lessons with Natalie Burgess in New York City. She also studied voice in the bel canto tradition with John LaBella while in Boston, and sang with New England Vocal Arts Ensemble. She studied briefly with Phyllis Curtin and coached with Michael Strauss. After graduating, from 1991 until 2002, Laura worked as accompanist and theatrical music director in the Boston schools, for local choruses and churches, private teacher and soprano soloist, including as section leader / soloist of Eliot Church for 4 years. Her poetry was published in numerous national journals.

As singer / songwriter, Laura released and toured for three independent albums of original material, which include spoken poems and arrangements of traditional folk songs: When I Left Loss (1999), Love Flows Like the Blood of a River (2003) and Talon of the Blackwater (2009). Her poetry was published in numerous journals. Laura opened for major folk acts such as John Gorka, Cheryl Wheeler, Connie Kaldor and Lori McKenna, and performed at arts festivals and venues around the United States. She has recorded with Grammy and Juno awarded musicians. Her trio performed from 2009-2012. Laura Siersema Trio Live at 1794 Meetinghouse was officially released in 2017.

Composition of solo piano pieces first began in 2008 and continued evolving with Stillness Variations (2013), ultimately blossoming in 2015 with the completion of Aberfan (7 pianos, percussion, voice and tools of rescue), a fiscally sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts, currently in its funding and recording phase.

More by Laura Siersema:

Every Night When the Sun Goes In
Hush Little Baby
If My Church Be Bone O Sinner Man
Wade in the Water

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