Laura Vecchione was born in New York City and established herself as a musician in Boston. But her heart and soul are firmly entrenched in New Orleans, and that’s where she belongs.
Vecchione is another formidable singer/songwriter who attended the Berklee College of Music, which lists Diana Krall, Aimee Mann, Susan Tedeschi, and Gillian Welch among its alumni.
And while Vecchione’s Eastern roots are evident, she truly knows what it means to miss New Orleans. Her second album, Girl in the Band (released by her own Selkie Records), brings the Crescent City influence to the forefront.
The fair-skinned redhead might not initially appear to be the ideal version of the Cajun Queen, more like a Lady-in-Waiting. But don’t ignore the powerful, bluesy voice of someone who should feel right at home on a barstool at Tipitina’s, belting out one soulful song after another before a sweaty crowd that feels the heat ... and likes it.
Vecchione’s connection to the home of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (one of her influences), Mardi Gras, jazz funerals, the French Quarter and Preservation Hall was forever solidified in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which decimated New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Of course, the city has had its share of support from local musicians such as Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John, Irma Thomas, and Allen Toussaint, but this is different. If heritage and geography kept her from becoming part of the immediate family, Vecchione today should at least be an adopted Soul Sistah.
While still fighting to make a name for herself in the competitive world of music, she has made it her mission to help rebuild the city, whether it’s with her deeply emotional voice or through her songs. The proceeds of two digital downloads from her album will be donated to Sweet Home New Orleans, a nonprofit agency attempting to preserve the city’s musical and historic culture.
And it just so happens that those two songs, “Indian Red,” and “Fly Home Flag Boy” should attract the most attention off Girl in the Band. While she wrote eight of the 10 songs on the record, “Indian Red,” isn’t one of them, yet it might create the greatest impact.
Even Vecchione unselfishly directs listeners to that song’s origins in her liner notes, describing the traditional number as a “sacred prayer sung by the Mardi Gras Indian tribes of New Orleans both at Mardi Gras Indian funerals and before going out on Mardi Gras Day.”