Q&A with multi instrumentalist, singer/songwriter Lara Price, powerhouse female force in the soul blues scene

"Music is a life long journey of discovery. It’s the one thing that I will never stop being curious about. Music is a place for me to fall in love over and over again. I guess that makes me a bit of a junkie. I just want to play live music for as long as this life will allow."

Lara Price: Soul Blues American Dream

Abandoned at birth, Lara Price became a part of the controversial Operation Baby Lift, the mass evacuation of orphans from South Vietnam to the United States. Her journey out of Vietnam to her new home was nothing short of a miracle, as 90 percent of the orphaned babies did not survive. Lara Price is a survivor. Lara arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1997 to pursue her dream of singing in a band. The journey of Lara’s career includes tours across the United States, China, multiple bands, one DVD, seven CDs that Lara Price has produced, co-written, and on which she has played multiple instruments. Her sixth CD, I Mean Business, was exactly that, earning her a Best Soul/Blues Female Artist nomination for 2017 by the Blues Foundation. Lara’s journey continued in Austin, where she released on her seventh album, Makin’ Lemonade Lara Price LIVE from ATX. Powerhouse blues and soul singer Lara Price will be released her ladel debut new album, Half & Half on Gulf Coast Records (Release Day: June 21st). 

(Lara Price / Photo © by Brynn Osborn)

“Half & Half was a way for me to honor the Bay Area music family, because without them I wouldn’t be able to keep up in this Austin music scene,” said Lara Price. “The other ‘half’ is a representation of what I have learned so far, as I have soaked up eight years- worth of Austin music. I feel like I am JUST scratching the service as to what the Austin music scene is about, and I look forward to putting that experience on my next album. Technically, the album was recorded 60% in Texas 40% in California with 22 musicians and three studios in two states,” she added about the recording sessions.

Interview by Michael Limnios                 Special Thanks: Lara Price & Mark Pucci

How has the Blues and Soul music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I was born in Vietnam and have been learning the craft of Blues and Soul music for the last 8 records. Historically I know I don’t have the “look” of a Soul/Blues singer; that has taught me a lot about the power of a face. Admittedly there were times when I wish I didn’t look Asian but now I have come to accept and embrace that being different than the rest is ok. It’s made me work that much harder to get the sound that I hear in my head. I haven’t found that voice yet but I am closer now than I was on my last record and that feels great.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

I love the fact that music disrupts the surrounding air molecules, which is why I try to be conscience of where my head is at when I am singing. That being said it’s those times that if I am struggling with the voices in my head, I can usually sing my way to clarity. Classical music was my first love, thanks to my Mother placing me into ballet classes, where I discovered music in my bones. My professional sound started with operatic training. That kind of training gave me tools to help control my instrument. The influences have been vast; singing in cover bands has been a way for me to live in the shoes of so many different artists that I love. I get the privilege to see the effect of a “hit song” on a crowd of people.

Witnessing people lose their minds over a cover tune that I am singing is incredible. I find my ego wishing I could write something that is timeless and that makes people lose their shit. When I am singing covers, sometimes I want to honor the original, and sometimes I experiment to see what songs sound like had written them. Singing became a place for me to release my blues. At the beginning of my blues music journey, playing in blues bands was just a vehicle for me to play live and meet other musicians. Now blues music has become somewhat of a home for me. It wasn’t the home I was looking for but it found me, and I am so grateful for that. People have said to me that blues music is a dead end for me career wise, I have hard time with that, because doesn’t everyone get the blues? Music is a life long journey of discovery. It’s the one thing that I will never stop being curious about. Music is a place for me to fall in love over and over again. I guess that makes me a bit of a junkie. I just want to play live music for as long as this life will allow.                                      (Lara Price / Photo © by Brynn Osborn)

"My hopes are that I can still keep playing and getting paid to play music, and my fears are that I can’t. I am an optimist though, and think that if you really want something, you’ll find a way."

What moment changed your music life the most?

I recall this moment when I was around 9 years old. I sat down at the upright piano that my parents placed in my bedroom, which made me feel so cool. I had a piano in my ROOM! Anyway, I sat down and my fingers landed on three keys. The sound of those 3 little keys brought tears to my eyes. I discovered my singing voice when I was 12; my first solo was “Let There Be Peace On Earth”.

What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far? 

I feel blessed that I have had a lot of highlights; maybe because I have had some real “down on my knees, crying to God” lows. In 2007 The Lara Price Band played the Greater Ozarks Blues Festival, in Springfield Missouri, the other acts on the bill were, Anthony Gomes, North Mississippi Allstars, Joe Bonamassa and Leon Russell. I remember looking at the festival T-shirt and seeing our band name on it with the other amazing artists. I still have that Greater Ozarks Festival T- shirt; I think I have only worn it twice, in the house. I sat in the bleachers and watched Leon Russell float out to the stage. I felt as if The Lara Price Band would conquer the planet after that huge opportunity. A year and 3 records later we broke up, it was one of the most devastating times in my career. I lost my tribe and was heartbroken. Thinking about it to this day, it still hurts, but this breakup turned out to be the driving force to wanting to get that fire back in some capacity. So I didn’t give up, I kept playing music with as many people as possible, and strived to be the best bandleader possible, which has made me a better musician/Band leader. This has led to so many magical moments on stage, some that will probably never happen again, but I get to relive them in my mind any time I want, and that is a beautiful thing.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past?

I miss performing live on a radio station and then seeing the phone light up for ticket giveaways. I guess it was the equivalent of people “liking” your content on social media. What I really miss is, making money from selling CDs!

What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

My hopes are that I can still keep playing and getting paid to play music, and my fears are that I can’t. I am an optimist though, and think that if you really want something, you’ll find a way.

"“It’s all about recovery not the mistake”. That was advice that was said to me years ago, and something I say to players when things go wrong in a live situations. These are words to live by."

(Lara Price / Photo © by Brynn Osborn)

What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

I think it’s a good time to be a woman in music. Beyonce and Taylor Swift. The era of the “Boss Lady” is here. The “Me Too” movement shifted some things around to make it less painful to be a woman in the entertainment world. It’s not perfect by any means but it is better.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? 

The younger generations are used to hearing music in a perfect way. Everything is pitch-perfect. Even lip-syncing became popular, which is insane to me. It is more the norm that musicians are playing with tracks in live situations, and the audience doesn’t seem to know or care. And now with AI being able to produce “perfect music”, does music made by humans die? I hope I am gone by then if it does.

How do you want the music to affect people?

I would love for people to be entertained from start to finish on this latest record. I know that’s probably pie in the sky thinking but I made something that brought me a lot of joy and would love to share that. A lot of heart from a whole village of people helped make this last album and I am proud of what we did together.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

“It’s all about recovery not the mistake”. That was advice that was said to me years ago, and something I say to players when things go wrong in a live situations. These are words to live by.

How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

I usually would say rest and water are your friends for singing, but on the last 2 studio albums I was going through a breakup, so I was drinking a lot, smoking a lot, not sleeping, and still got some of the best performances. I suppose that worked for a blues/rock/soul album, but I wouldn’t recommend that kind of debauchery before going into a recording or live performance.

Lara Price - Home

(Lara Price / Photo © by Brynn Osborn)

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