Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Pensacola, Florida glories in its contradictions.  Most folks who live there range from decorated war veterans of the Eastern Theater to geriatric transplants from the North.  And downtown, the stucco, clay tile, and wrought-iron Spanish architecture rubs elbows with one-story cinderblock boxes painted in colors Crayola would name “Pepto-Bismol,” “Chlorine,” and “Dreamsicle.”  Dare to wander into a house of God on Sunday, and you might be surprised that He finds Himself claimed everywhere from the strait-laced temples of fundamentalism to the electrified whirlwinds of Brownsville.  But America loves a good contradiction.

Pensacola offers the world yet another happy contradiction in the work of Lauren Rector. Look at her, and you’ll see a serious rocker graced in leather, eyeliner, and taffeta.  Talk to her, and you’ll discover a thoughtful, experienced nineteen-year-old who gets along great with her mom.  Listen to her sing, and you’ll get lost in the amazing range and strength of tone that reminds you of the power ballads you used to sing along with in the car.

Having divorced parents as a toddler, you can only imagine the kind of childhood confusion that marked her early years. Punctuated with such life experiences as the total loss of her house once to a fire and the loss of another house to Katrina, (Lauren and her mother lived in a FEMA trailer for a year after), Lauren has been steeled by suffering. But Lauren was not left alone in her struggles. She found the Brownsville revival, where she fell in love with music and found a receptive worship leader who didn’t want all the kids shipped out to Sunday school and kept quiet with graham crackers.  He asked Lauren to sing, and from the first moment she began, her talent marked her even more than her hardships had.  She still carries both those marks, and
you can see them in her work.

Big crowds energize Lauren, and she owns them.  She’s gained singing strength and stage creds at fairs and festivals where her leadership skills began carving a wider place in the world for her.  In 2006 she placed in the finals for “Emerald Coast Idol.” In 2007 she rocked out a crowd of ten thousand teens at a youth conference.  She’s covered Pat Benatar, U2, Evanescence, and Flyleaf, and she can seriously rock the socks off anything a songwriter can pitch at her.

Lauren has moved into her own as a professional vocalist and songwriter, catching the attention of vocal training coach
extraordinaire Brett Manning of Singing Success (whose clientele include the talent of Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and Paramore’s Haley Williams), distinguished record producer Malcolm Springer (whose professional resume is a mile long list of Who’s Who in the music industry), and performance instructor Tom Jackson (who owns the niche field of Live Music Production).

In short, when you listen to Lauren you’re getting the best of raw, audacious talent guided by world-class professionals.  When asked to sum up her work, what is her reply? A no-nonsense "I am rock."  Utter honesty and stagecraft, innocence and maturity, strength and control, midnight black and baby pink: Lauren is an American contradiction that
works.  Just wait till you hear this girl sing!

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