I first heard Laura Smith (then known as Susie Smith) in London, Ontario
It was back in the mid-seventies at Smale’s Pace Coffeehouse and Laura was not only singing but waitressing at the club as well. I can’t tell you what she was singing that night, but it was probably something from the traditional repertoire. What I do remember is that she delivered the songs with a ton of conviction. No fooling around, she took hold of the song and delivered it directly to everyone in the audience.
This command of repertoire and delivery in performance is something that Laura continued to develop and refine throughout her life. It was indicative of how she lived. Despite setbacks that threw her music career off course for a number of years, she came back stronger than ever and ultimately built a national audience that was fiercely loyal.
As a musician she was intuitively smart and always knew what she wanted and what would work with her songs. I had the opportunity to back her up on guitar on a number of occasionsand it was always a pleasure to work with a singer that was so confident and strong. I’m sure other folks like Tony McManus and Paul Mills would agree. Basically Laura carried the show and we went along for the ride. My partner Sue Lothrop and I also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Laura a few times. In those instances she was warm, gracious and always quick to add a third harmony that was perfect.
As a partner in Borealis (Laura’s label) we started discussing a new project prior to Laura’s becoming ill. True to form she wanted to continue working on this until the end. She somehow managed to gather enough strength to record two new songs just a few weeks before she died. We’re hoping that in the months to come we’ll be able to add these to some of her best loved songs and poetry in a package that will do her justice.
There are a number of folks that knew Laura well from different periods of her life.
I hope they will feel like contributing their own stories about this wonderful artist.
Bill Garrett – March 2020
When Laura sang she would have the audience in the palm of her hand, whether it was a small club or a huge Festival crowd. And what a delicious voice! Immensely powerful, with an irresistible quality–it was unique and truly special. As a performer she had that rare quality to revel in being on stage. You saw her face light up and her body literally bounce with joy when she stepped up to the mic. But it was never a big ego thing—she was one of the most down-to-earth, authentic artists. That’s why her fans felt such deep connection to her. Her songs also reflected the essence of who she was–they were deeply heartfelt and relevant and captivating.
It’s no exaggeration that Canada has lost another rare and exceptional artist. Bill and I have felt honoured to be able to play our small role in her career.
Grit Laskin – March 2020