Lauren Webb was at the ACT Arts Centre in her hometown Maple Ridge, where a youth talent show was taking place.
There were some professional sound engineers putting on a clinic in hopes of attracting some young blood into their industry.
One of the techs asked for a volunteer to sing a few bars so they could demonstrate to the group what “doing sound” is like.
So Lauren belted out a few lines, and the tech returned to her with a different microphone, you know, try this.
So she did, and accomplished something one of Canada’s most celebrated crooners never could.
“That was Diana Krall’s mic,” the veteran master mixer told Lauren when she was done. “I’ve been a sound guy for 20 years. You made me cry and that doesn’t happen.”
That was last year. Lauren was 9.
“It felt really good,” she told BC Musician in November. “I … can’t explain it. It was really exciting. I was really happy.”
To be haunted by a 10-year-old girl outside of the plot of a 2000s found-footage horror flick is something indeed.
Lauren first passed through my eardrums as my carni-verde lunch was passing through my heart (read: arteries) at the Esquimalt Ribfest in Victoria in September. I was drawn away from the fire truck dispensing draft (there has to be a regulation, I mean it’s the Island, but come on) and to the stage by the sound alone.
I can say that honestly because I couldn’t see her, because she’s about three-foot-nothing.
Lauren, who performs most often with her dad Jason Webb, a self-described “mediocre shower singer” on guitar and other accompaniments, is proof positive that experience is more important than age.
If you ask her what it was like when she became a vocalist, you’re on a dead-end road because she doesn’t remember: she’s been singing since before she could read.
“We started playing together when she was so young the only way for her to learn was to memorize the words,” Jason recalled. “I try to get her to drop the lyric (sheet) as soon as possible to be ‘in’ the song and sing from the heart.”
To wit, Jason emailed me a clip of Lauren singing Hallelujah within about 72 hours of news of Leonard Cohen’s passing.
They had been fooling around with it (for the first time ever) with instruments ahead of a performance at a Christmas fundraiser in White Rock when Lauren herself decided to lay one track down a cappella.
First, there will be a scavenger hunt published in these pages sometime soon. Task One will be to find another 10-year-old that even knows what a capella means.
Second, this is how she haunts you, and provides more proof that though still growing and learning, she is, at least, a seven-year veteran of the craft (to hear the clip and to see her on YouTube, head to the online version of this story at bcmusicianmag.com).
“She always seemed to be able to take the right part of the song and do the right thing with it,” Jason explained. “She’s always had that gift; just an exceptionally good natural sense of timing and phrasing.”
Lauren doesn’t have any real formal musical training. Jason put her in vocal and piano lessons when she was around 7, but “that took her backwards, so I took her out. I could find a better teacher, maybe, but I’ve found she hasn’t needed it so far.”
No argument here. The future holds a repeat performance at Ribfest in 2017, a performance at the Pink Palace and at a Woodstock revival in Duncan.
Oh, and something about finishing Grade 5, because she’s 10 and you already forgot.
That’s an easy mistake to make listening to her on stage or on the phone. When not hitting “Mariah-Carey-high” notes while practicing opera to improve her breathing, or echoing Christina Aguilera, Amy Winehouse (right?), Lana del Rey or Fleetwood Mac — “they’re pretty cool” — she is binge watching Vampire Diaries, riding her dad’s side-by-side ATV or wakeboarding up at the lakehouse. Or dancing. Lots of dancing.
“When I’m older I’d love to sing and have that as a job.”
The realm of possibility is all around us, flowing through every living thing. The Force is strong with this one.
“She has a pretty good confidence level,” Jason said. “She’s fearless with singing and it’s worked for her.”
by Craig Gilbert
Ed @ Large
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