Every once in a while, we come across an artist that we just can't wait to tell the world more about.
Laura Warshauer is one such artist.
Born and raised in Red Bank, N. J., and now residing in Los Angeles, the singer/songwriter mixes powerhouse vocals with stark, insightful lyrics.
Her catchy hooks don't hurt, either.
" Alanis Morissette's 'Ironic' and Joan Osborne's 'One of Us' inspired me to write songs," Warshauer says. "When those songs were first popular, I was struck by their simplicity, yet the power of their lyrics and messages."
Warshauer credits that mid-'90s female singer/songwriter era as an inspiration to her creating music. "Those singers had a very unique sound and it felt like their voices were true representations of their lives, stories and struggles. In the actual sound of their voices, I could feel what it was they were trying to convey."
Laura Warshauer performs "Heaven Above," with Ned Cameron on piano, at Billboard's New York offices.
A Warshauer-penned song draws upon those influences, with lyrically vibrant, compelling, picturesque imagery that makes it clear why, in 2010, she was awarded Songmasters' and the Songwriters Hall of Fame's inaugural Holly Prize for original songwriting (named for rock pioneer Buddy Holly). Fittingly, Warshauer joined the 2011 PBS tribute concert, "Buddy Holly: Listen to Me," singing "That'll Be the Day." Veterans on the bill - with whom she shared the stage for a rousing finale performance - included Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Michelle Branch, Chris Isaak and Paul Anka.
Warshauer explains that the bulk of her songs stem from a "subconscious place, where I just start writing without thinking first about what it is that I want to say. I play my guitar and come up with melodies and lyrics together, somehow tapping into emotions that I haven't yet necessarily put into words.
"I feel like I'm bottling lightning with a song, capturing a moment in time that the song allows me to revisit, and listeners a glimpse into stories that hopefully reflect their own lives."
To fully grasp the true artistry of Warshauer, however, you have to hear her live. From her commanding voice to her warm stage persona, it's evident why, at a Grammy Awards after party, Jay-Z once told her, "You are fantastically talented." Prolific country songwriter/producer Keith Stegall has said simply that Warshauer "can stop time."
Warshauer says that her live presence has been influenced by U2 and Bruce Springsteen concert experiences. "Each has this epic feel, where the music seems to transport everyone to a higher place and sensibility."
If 2012 is anything like 2011, it may be difficult for Warshauer to carve out the time to find her "subconscious place" and write new material. Highlights of last year included a headlining set at the Official MPressFest CMJ Showcase; tour dates with Bob Schneider, Frankie Moreno and Scars on 45; and, an appearance at the WXPN World Cafe. She was also interviewed for and performed her song "To Will and Kate, Meet Me at Exit 109" on E!'s "True Hollywood Story: Kate and Pippa Middleton."
(What are Warshauer's ties to the British throne? She lived in the same dormitory with the world-famous couple during her freshman year at the University of St. Andrew's in Scotland).
Already this year, Warshauer has played at Sunset Sessions, a star-studded industry rock festival in San Diego, and is planning to reprise dates opening for Schneider.
Hear the exclusive premiere of Laura Warshauer's "That Game."
Warshauer's new song "That Game," a Chart Beat exclusive on Billboard.com, was produced by Bleu (whose set "Watched Pot" was a top 10 Regional Heatseekers chart hit in 2009). She wryly describes it as the "'Sex and the City' of songs.
"I feel like it captures the young woman trying to make it in the world, finding herself while looking for love along the way."
Warshauer's forthcoming album, tentatively titled "Wicked Wicked," is set for a spring release.