Lorraine Lawson just wants to teach the world to sing

“You changed my life just now!”That’s what Lorraine Lawson heard the other week from one of her clients, a lawyer who works in the health-care sector. With her stress at astronomic levels, the lawyer had popped in for an online session with the woman considered to be the premiere vocal coach in the country.Singing for self-care? That’s just part of Lawson’s gallery of services. “Singing is unconscious,” Lawson says. “It originates in the brain, but the body responds.” Another motto: “Singing is the great equalizer.”Lawson is the vocal equivalent of a horse whisperer. She’s worked with a swath of talent, including Alessia Cara, Blake McGrath and the cast of “Schitt’s Creek”; she has also served as an on-set coach for CTV’s “The Launch.” Her students range in age from nine to 99 years old and live everywhere from Toronto to Iran. (Lawson has adjusted to these socially distant times!)Music of the heartThe product of parents with MBAs from Harvard (where they met) and two sisters who are more academically inclined, Lawson says she was definitely the family oddball. Her first performance was a Christmas pageant at the Kingsway-Lambton United Church. “One of the kids fell ill,” Lawson recalls. “My mother said, ‘My four-year-old can do it. Throw her in!’” After studying at the Etobicoke School of the Arts — she was more into dance back then — she eventually moved to Manhattan to study musical theatre, dreaming of performing on Broadway. But then a doctor visit brought bad news: she had vocal nodules. “You’ll never do eight shows a week,” the doc told her. Dumbstruck, she started working as a bank teller. It was a difficult time, but tough love from her family helped. Her Danish grandmother wrote her a letter that read, in part, “Be content with being average. Stop trying to be extraordinary.”Lawson wasn’t done, though. She moved back to Toronto and studied music at Humber. “Things started to happen,” she says. “I started getting referrals. I was asked about doing gigs. In my late 20s, I discovered I could write songs.” She carved out a place for herself in the performing space — “If you want Holly Cole but can’t get Holly Cole, get Lorraine Lawson!” she says with a laugh — and teaching increasingly became a part of her wheelhouse too. “People love the ingenue, the overnight success. But that is not always how it is.”There have been down times — she mentions a radio jingle she did that she was paid $300 for and has been playing for 30 years — but mostly Lawson finds joy in fermenting the potential of others. She likens it to an athlete-coach relationship and offers an anecdote about once pulling over to the side of the road to help singer Roy Woods over the phone before a show: “He just needed a warm-up.”Life in song“It was the reverse of ‘The Wedding Singer,’” Lawson says about the meet-cute with her husband, Michael Marcus. She was singing at a wedding at the Royal Ontario Museum and he was a 25-year-old serving caterer. Their eyes met. He liked her stuff. She liked his strut. Life at their Bathurst and Eglinton home is relaxed. “My husband puts on music when we are having dinner,” she says. “Because I am surrounded by music, I often do not turn to music.” (Interesting! Like the professional butcher who maybe doesn’t want to have steak all that often.) With Marcus now at the helm of a company he founded called Adjustable Beds Plus, she always sleeps well.When the subject turns to her hair — the two things that strike you about Lawson are her zest and her long Lady of Shalott locks — she says it’s been a journey toward acceptance. “It was my nemesis when I was younger,” she says, recalling that her mother insisted that she keep it short and that the general message she received from all over was: no curls, please. Now that it has become a part of her brand, she has embraced it.So can she identify talent right away? “The word ‘talent’ is an interesting one,” says Lawson. “I’m not sure I was so naturally talented, but I had a passion for it. Parents will often ask me ‘Does my child have what it takes?’ I will not answer that question. My role is not to judge.” Her role is to teach.

Lorraine Lawson just wants to teach the world to sing

“You changed my life just now!”

That’s what Lorraine Lawson heard the other week from one of her clients, a lawyer who works in the health-care sector. With her stress at astronomic levels, the lawyer had popped in for an online session with the woman considered to be the premiere vocal coach in the country.

Singing for self-care? That’s just part of Lawson’s gallery of services. “Singing is unconscious,” Lawson says. “It originates in the brain, but the body responds.” Another motto: “Singing is the great equalizer.”

Lawson is the vocal equivalent of a horse whisperer. She’s worked with a swath of talent, including Alessia Cara, Blake McGrath and the cast of “Schitt’s Creek”; she has also served as an on-set coach for CTV’s “The Launch.” Her students range in age from nine to 99 years old and live everywhere from Toronto to Iran. (Lawson has adjusted to these socially distant times!)

Music of the heart

The product of parents with MBAs from Harvard (where they met) and two sisters who are more academically inclined, Lawson says she was definitely the family oddball. Her first performance was a Christmas pageant at the Kingsway-Lambton United Church. “One of the kids fell ill,” Lawson recalls. “My mother said, ‘My four-year-old can do it. Throw her in!’” After studying at the Etobicoke School of the Arts — she was more into dance back then — she eventually moved to Manhattan to study musical theatre, dreaming of performing on Broadway. But then a doctor visit brought bad news: she had vocal nodules. “You’ll never do eight shows a week,” the doc told her. Dumbstruck, she started working as a bank teller. It was a difficult time, but tough love from her family helped. Her Danish grandmother wrote her a letter that read, in part, “Be content with being average. Stop trying to be extraordinary.”

Lawson wasn’t done, though. She moved back to Toronto and studied music at Humber. “Things started to happen,” she says. “I started getting referrals. I was asked about doing gigs. In my late 20s, I discovered I could write songs.” She carved out a place for herself in the performing space — “If you want Holly Cole but can’t get Holly Cole, get Lorraine Lawson!” she says with a laugh — and teaching increasingly became a part of her wheelhouse too. “People love the ingenue, the overnight success. But that is not always how it is.”

There have been down times — she mentions a radio jingle she did that she was paid $300 for and has been playing for 30 years — but mostly Lawson finds joy in fermenting the potential of others. She likens it to an athlete-coach relationship and offers an anecdote about once pulling over to the side of the road to help singer Roy Woods over the phone before a show: “He just needed a warm-up.”

Life in song

“It was the reverse of ‘The Wedding Singer,’” Lawson says about the meet-cute with her husband, Michael Marcus. She was singing at a wedding at the Royal Ontario Museum and he was a 25-year-old serving caterer. Their eyes met. He liked her stuff. She liked his strut. Life at their Bathurst and Eglinton home is relaxed. “My husband puts on music when we are having dinner,” she says. “Because I am surrounded by music, I often do not turn to music.” (Interesting! Like the professional butcher who maybe doesn’t want to have steak all that often.) With Marcus now at the helm of a company he founded called Adjustable Beds Plus, she always sleeps well.

When the subject turns to her hair — the two things that strike you about Lawson are her zest and her long Lady of Shalott locks — she says it’s been a journey toward acceptance. “It was my nemesis when I was younger,” she says, recalling that her mother insisted that she keep it short and that the general message she received from all over was: no curls, please. Now that it has become a part of her brand, she has embraced it.

So can she identify talent right away? “The word ‘talent’ is an interesting one,” says Lawson. “I’m not sure I was so naturally talented, but I had a passion for it. Parents will often ask me ‘Does my child have what it takes?’ I will not answer that question. My role is not to judge.” Her role is to teach.

Source : Toronto Star More