The buzz surrounding Halifax's hip-hop scene is steadily growing, and if you've been paying any attention then you've likely come across the voice of R&B singer Laura Roy. Having worked with such local rappers as Classified, Quake Matthews, Kayo and Cam Smith, Roy has made a big splash in a small amount of time. Now, with a debut LP in the works and numerous live performances under her belt, Roy is priming herself to make a significant impact as a solo artist.
You might have caught one her shows already—she most recently performed at Nova Scotia Music Week. Roy describes her live sound as "powerhouse, bluesy, soulful vocals" that are largely influenced by the mournful timbre of R&B heavyweights such as Lauryn Hill, Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys. What you might not expect, however, is her use of acoustic guitars.
"I love to keep things acoustic because it really strips the music down to just my voice, guitar and my songwriting and I love to show people that raw side to my music and how hard I work," says Roy. "I never hold back when I perform and I think people can appreciate that passion."
This passion bloomed at an early age. Growing up in Canning, Roy developed her love of music from her parents' blues and folk records and her own self-motivation to perform. Singing came first, as Roy began entering community talent shows as a child. By the time she turned 14, Roy was beginning to write songs on guitar, and her enthusiasm quickly grew from there.
"When I was 16 I knew that music was my passion and although I was unsure of how I would go about pursuing a career in it, I knew that it would be something that would play a huge role in my life forever," she says.
Though she has always been a fan of a variety of music genres, including blues, pop and folk, Roy has narrowed her focus down to writing and performing mostly within R&B. Like many musicians, however, the songwriting process has sometimes proven to be challenging. "I have times where I am full of inspiration and ideas and then I hit road block and can't seem to come up with anything," she says. "You have to be able to flow in and out of your creative highs and lows and take something from all of it."
Roy likely works through such challenges by using the inspiration she gathers from collaborations. She has participated in the Gordie Sampson Songcamp, a week-long songwriting retreat for young musicians in Nova Scotia. This collaborative experience, along with her work with budding Halifax rappers, has allowed Roy to not only grow as a writer, but also experience the perspective of other musicians.
"I think every artist of any genre has something special and unique to bring to the table when collaborating, and that's what makes it such a beautiful thing," she says.
Roy's current focus is writing and recording her debut LP, which she hopes to release by the spring of 2013, and to keep touring and maintaining her prominence within the hip-hop scene.
Speaking on Halifax's hip-hop culture, Roy believes that it is "only a matter of time until the talent here just blows up."
The same could likely be said of her.
Laura Roy w/Nicole Ariana, Kirsten Olivia, Samm Reid, Verena Ritz
Thursday, November 29 at The Company House, 2202 Gottingen Street, 8:30pm, $10
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