The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

79° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Laura Gibson: The girl on the train, in your MFA class and on stage at Club Congress

Alterna2 (CC BY 2.0)
Laura Gibson performs in Barcelona, Spain on April 27, 2010.

It will have been 10 years in November since singer-songwriter Laura Gibson released her first album. Gibson has taken chances in those 10 years that she never thought she would, from playing in front of thousands to touring Europe and sharing her music with more countries than her guitar-playing fingers could count.

The Oregon native was a pre-med student at age 20 and made the choice to try out playing the guitar. Having come from a non-musical family, it was something she had never dreamed of attempting.

“I could have gone my whole life and not really gone down that path,” Gibson said.

She had always thought maybe she could sing, and durring her senior year of undergraduate studies, she worked up the nerve to perform her original songs for the first time.

Guess what—it went pretty OK.

Gibson’s first record was appreciated by The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, who asked her to tour with the well-known group based out of Portland. Gibson learned what a great support this band was to her hometown music community and said they don’t get enough credit for how much they’ve contributed to this community.

She’s certainly thankful.

Gibson’s most recent album Empire Builder was received widely and deeply—it had been four years since her last album and, as expected, this venture showed maturity. The album shared feeling in a rawer manner, without a doubt influenced by major life changes that the musician and writer has always strived to express herself in her work.

“I listen to my first record and I think back—it’s a great documentation of what i was going through intellectually, emotionally and creatively,” Gibson said. “I’m sure I’ll look back at this record and connect it to that time. … One of the biggest gifts of playing music is to have that documentation of life.”

She graduated in May from Hunter College in Manhattan with an MFA in creative writing. Her degree is a massive achievement, but serves as just another stepping stone in Gibson’s discovery of who she is and how she was meant to know and nourish the world.

Gibson also created a music video for the song, “Two Kids,” a song on Empire Builder. Her friend Ben Fee directed the video and while she began the shoot thinking she was just going to do some simple lip syncing, she went from swaying her arms to dancing all-out goofy in the video.

“We did it on a budget and I was so amazed at what they were able to pull off,” Gibson said. “I don’t get to ham it up in that way often; I think people think of me as kind of a shy serious person, because of my songs, so it’s fun to show another side of me.”

Laura claims Tucson is one of her favorite venues and is excited to be back after a few years. She’s even chummy with local band Calexico, having played in Europe with the Tucson group.

Laura’s tour mate Kishi Bashi is also someone she has been a fan of, and after meeting him through an anniversary party for NPR’s “All Songs Considered,” she is ecstatic about accepting his invitation to join him for these shows.

“Playing solo always feels special,” Gibson said. “There’s a vulnerability in it and I really love that connection with the audience so i think it’ll be a really fun night.”

Gibson opens Wednesday at 8 p.m., at Hotel Congress. See her perform Empire Builder, her favorite song she’s ever made, and experience it like the Rainer Maria Rilke poem which inspired it: “From all the borders of itself, burst like a star.” 

Follow Gretchyn Kaylor on Twitter.

More to Discover
Activate Search