Heart on her sleeve

Laura Lizcano
Laura Lizcano’s first full-length studio album, ‘Heart,’ will be released on Oct. 16. | Image: Allis Chang

Philadelphia’s Laura Lizcano returns with her new and improved sound on her debut album, “Heart,” which dropped on Oct. 16.

Lizcano is a Colombian born singer-songwriter now residing in Philadelphia. Although she has built most of her musical career off of her jazz roots, she no longer defines her genre as just that. This is clearly showcased on “Heart.” While still implementing the carefree and easy listening style of Lizcano’s music, she’s able to evolve her sound by adding elements of folk and pop to her already established jazz roots.

“Overworked & Underpaid” is a lighthearted track bringing listeners back to pre-COVID times (or maybe even current COVID times) when life and work are intertwined to the point of burnout, but we do it to survive.

“‘Overworked & Underpaid’ is all about millennial burnout: the idea that we must work harder and harder to build a better financial future for ourselves,” Lizcano said. “Yet, minimum wage has remained stagnant throughout most of the country and people have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Meanwhile, the ‘American dream’ idea tells us that if we just work more, things will get easier. Now, during the COVID era, many folks have lost several of their part-time gigs. I think it illustrates that job security is a myth, and that the 9-5 job is a rarity.”

Influenced by artists such as Norah Jones and Natalia Lafroucade, Lizcano combines her formal training as a jazz vocalist with her love for folk and pop music. This combination of styles is evident within her own lyrically-driven compositions.

Lizcano has performed at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts for the Sittin In’ Series at Innovation Studio and at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York City as the featured vocalist for the Temple University Big Band. She has also opened for Gaby Moreno and Sammy Miller and the Congregation at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. Most recently, she has been featured in the virtual Wawa Welcome America Festival and Philadelphia’s iconic Philly Folk Fest in 2020.

PW recently caught up with Lizcano to talk about her music and career.

Let’s go back to the beginning. When did you first become interested in performing? Who were some of your earliest influences?

I’ve always wanted to perform! A couple years back, I found a first-grade assignment. You know, the kind of assignment where you have to write about your family and what you want to be when you grow up. I wrote that I wanted to be a singer. 

I’ve always been obsessed with vocalists. Some of my earliest influences were ‘90s pop stars: Britney Spears, Chrstina Aguilera, and there was also a very young pop star from Spain – Melody. She’s kind of famous for this song called “El Baile del Gorila.” But I remember watching that music video as a little girl and being like, “I WANT TO DO THAT!”

Your debut album, “Heart,” drops Oct. 16. Talk a little about how it came together. Are you happy with the way it turned out? How can people hear it once it’s out?

After releasing my EP, “Chance on Me,” in 2018, I was just excited to go through the whole process of recording again. I really wanted to do something that was a reflection of me. I wrote all the songs for “Chance on Me” while I was still in college, and they very much sound like songs you write in jazz school. I was trying to impress my professors and prove that I was a true jazz vocalist.

But for “Heart,” I wanted a departure from that. I wanted something that felt more like a singer-songwriter record. While writing the songs for “Heart,” I was thinking a lot about this idea of “wearing your heart on your sleeve.” You bear your soul for the audience and you hand over these life experiences in these beautiful little musical packages.

“I’m constantly inspired by all the independent artists who are chasing their dreams and building a community that supports each other. I think that’s so important.”

Singer-songwriter Laura Lizcano

I’m really excited about the way it turned out. The band plays so beautifully, and I’m just incredibly lucky to have these musicians on this record. They really killed it!

“Heart” will be available on Bandcamp and on all your favorite streaming platforms (Spotify, iTunes, etc.)

Did the pandemic interrupt the production of “Heart” or disrupt your career? How did you spend your time in self-isolation?

Yes. We were supposed to release this in May, but I really felt like I needed time to figure out what was going on and if it was a good idea to release music. There were, and still are, so many unknowns. While it was a huge bummer, I’m glad we waited. I think everyone’s worlds just completely fell apart, and it would’ve been extremely taxing to figure out how to get everything out by May.

During self-isolation, I’ve been making lots of collages, watching movies, reading books, and really just taking time to take care of myself. It has been a silver lining of all of this, and I’m actually enjoying a slower paced life.

Laura Lizcano says the local music scene in Philly has taught her everything she knows about how to be a musician. | Image: Allis Chang

Why did you settle in Philadelphia? Have the local music scene and local musicians had an impact on your career?

I moved to Philly to go to school at Temple. Once I graduated, I just stuck around. The local music scene in Philly has taught me everything I know about how to be a musician. I’m constantly inspired by all the independent artists who are chasing their dreams and building a community that supports each other. I think that’s so important. It often feels like one big family! We are so lucky to have this network and support system.

What’s ahead for you once the pandemic passes? Live shows? More new music?

I have no idea! I’ve been writing quite a bit of music in the last two months, and I’m very excited about that. But the world has changed so much that I just don’t know. It’s exciting. It feels like a clean slate.

What are the best ways for your fans to keep up with what you’re doing?

Follow me on Instagram or Facebook at @lauralizcanomusic or sign up for my mailing list on my website: lauralizcanomusic.com.

  • Eugene Zenyatta was raised on old-time Memphis 'rasslin' and strongly prefers the company of dogs to people. His greatest heartbreak came in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.

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