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In the world of artistry and entertainment, it’s often easier to put on a fake face ofthe perfect persona than it is to let down one's guard and become vulnerable.Though singer/songwriter/piano player Lara Landon realizes she’d probablycome across like more of a star if she’d act like every angle of her life was inorder, the faith-based tunesmith refuses to veil fragile emotions or lie about herheart’s condition on the debut disc Beloved. Chalk up that integrity tounbreakable family bonds, influenced by her father’s roots in Jordan andmother’s Sicilian bloodline, both of which always stood for honesty, humility anda hard working essence in all aspects of life.
No wonder why the youthful but wiser beyond her years Landon has alwaysstood for creative excellence, even in the days before realizing a God-ordainedpath as a performer. Whether it was scoring the lead role of “Annie” in a collegeproduction at a mere nine years old, talking vocal lessons shortly thereafter orsoliciting a demo around to record executives at fourteen, the hopeful’s alwayshad an unbreakable spirit. But that’s not to say she hasn’t had stumbling blocksalong the way, most notably a bout with depression and anxiety throughoutadolescence, plus complete dismay with the massive music industry a few yearslater when studying at the arts oriented Belmont University.
“I’ve always been a big fan of reading biographies of other artists and seeinghow they went from rags to riches or from nothing to singing in stadiums,” saysLandon, citing an astute influence pool who thrived amidst their personalhardships, including Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, Billie Holiday andJohnny Cash. “I’ve always rooted for the underdog and feel like my music canreally encourage people who might have felt passed over at some point. It’s aplatform I want to take because God can take you right where you are, call youBeloved and lift you up.”
Indeed, Beloved is more than just an album title, but the mark of a personaljourney that led Landon to music executive and Essential Records founderRobert Beeson and a record deal with his new Nashville-based label BemaMedia – home to such artists as The Rubyz, Mission Six and Manic Drive.However, long before signing the dotted line, the relative newcomer could seeGod’s flawless plan working through her less than stellar circumstances.
“I remember being at Belmont interning at an online radio show while trying topursue my music career and there was a band called MIKESCHAIR that wasgetting really big around campus,” Landon recalls. “I asked the guys who theirmanager was and they told me about Jeremy Lee, who manages and is marriedto Plumb. I called him out of the blue and asked if I could come to his office topick his brain. I was really nervous and scared meeting a big time manager, but Ihad the courage to tell him I had a show coming up downtown and asked him to
come see me.”
And sure enough on a date night with his wife, Lee and a pregnant Plumb caughtLandon perform at an intimate writer’s night and walked away as instant fans. Infact, a few weeks later in that same type of setting, they brought back longtimepal Beeson, who not only found a similar type of magnetic musical attraction, butquickly became a mentor to the burgeoning troubadour.
“He started listening to my songs and giving them little tweaks, like saying ‘thisone’s just okay so spice it up’ or ‘this one’s missing tension so add somedrama,’” confirms Landon.
No sooner had the ink dried than Landon found herself in the studio with A-listproducer Michael Omartian (Amy Grant, Chicago, Rod Stewart, The Jackson’s,Whitney Houston), who began the Beloved recording process. “Michael’s coolbecause he is a legend, but really humble and down to earth,” she explains. “Heputs you at ease immediately and felt more like a dad than a producer, oftencomparing me to his daughter, which made the sessions feel really special sincethe beginning. Recording with him was different than most producers these daysbecause he also had renowned engineer Terry Christian, which allowed him tofocus completely on the creative side, rather than having to worry about technicalaspects as well.”
Outside of his Grammy-Award winning talents behind the boards, the collectionalso features the occasional co-write with Omartian, plus Sonicflood hit-makerand solo star Jason Ingram. At first the concept of teaming up with others for herdeeply expository lyrics seemed like a foreign concept, but in the end, Landonrealized it was a valuable part of the refining process.
“I was a little reluctant because my songs are so precious and personal to me,but I realized teaming up with someone else on occasion could provide a freshview,” she suggests of the switch between several individual and a handful ofcombined credits. “And now when I listen back to Beloved, it sounds like myjournals set to music, which means the subject matter won’t be all perfect, happyor wonderful. I’m dealing with stuff that’s harder to accept and I get pretty deepand sometimes a little dark.”
As a result, the tunes contained therein fall somewhere along the stylistic planeof Plumb, electronic innovator Imogen Heap, plus piano siren Tori Amos,wrapped around the epic and cinematic appeal of musical theatre. The swellingtitle track is a stirring example of an epiphany moment in Landon’s life where shechronicles the Lord’s unconditional guidance over her life, which simultaneouslyserves to directly combat insecurities and inferior feelings on any plane. Theingeniously programmed “Lift Me Up” adds a gloriously chilling effect across atender prayer of perseverance, while the gorgeous vocal radiance and pearlychord progressions throughout “Closer” indicate an imperfect believer in route togreater holiness. Yet the lead single “Presence of Love” is perhaps the textbook
tune to display Landon’s many musical gifts, coupled with a remarkably relatablemessage.
“It sounds the most poppy and lighthearted, but discusses the deeper topic ofhow hard it is to be filled and think in the presence of God’s love,” shesuggests. “I often times think ‘how can I grasp and realize that?’ and I wantpeople to be encouraged by that song and long for what God's presence feelslike without being afraid or intimidated.”
With the project poised to hit streets in September 2009, Landon is gearing upfor greater visibility on the road where she’s thus far been an approachableinteracter who faithfully follows up with her fans throughout an extensive onlinecommunity. And she’s quick to point out that her fervent series of MySpacemessages and emails isn’t some sort of gimmick or means of casual chit-chat,but an actual investment into the lives of her listeners.
“I’m the kind of person you can talk to who’s actually reachable and responsive,”she sums up. “I’m here to tell people that nothing can separate them from God'slove, He likes you, He's fond of you and you are worth everything to Him. Godlikes your personality and your individuality, even if you might not fit into thecrowd, and you don’t have to change that to be a Christian because He likes thevariety!”
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