The 22-year-old former Gilmerite, now living in Austin, recently released her first CD, Fire. And the title is appropriate, considering what the blunt young singer-songwriter says her work is about.
“Anger is...very prevalent in my music, and it is very therapeutic for me,” said the daughter of two Gilmer attorneys, Karen Bishop and the late David Bishop. “I have songs about greed and corruption and poverty,” as well as about her view that the music industry is “ridiculous and terrible.
“I guess it is protest music,” she said. “I’m protesting today’s mentality...(of) conformist mainstream lifestyle.”
And there is a point she is trying to get across to those who hear her songs.
“I think the message is ‘think for yourself,’” she declares. “Stand up for what you believe in.’
She doesn’t think that is a common theme in today’s music.
A 2005 graduate of Gilmer High School, Miss Bishop fulfilled a life-long dream by recording her CD. And she said she plans to do as many of them as possible.
A graduate of New York University in Manhattan, where she attended the Clive Davis School of Recorded Music at the university, she moved in June to Austin. She is performing at clubs, bars and other music venues, and things are going so swimmingly that she said in a Dec. 30 interview with The Mirror that she has a full schedule this month.
So what style of music does she perform?
“I’m a very blended genre of obviously rock and pop music,” she said, adding that she incorporates some elements of soul music and alternative country into her work.
“I really think about it as acting, almost...I sing differently, depending on what I’m singing,” added Miss Bishop, who plays guitar in addition to writing both the music and lyrics for all her songs.
Music has been a lifelong passion for the young singer, who, like her late father, grew up in Gilmer.
“I can’t remember not singing—ever,” she said. “I would memorize songs so quickly,” acting them out in front of her family, she noted.
She recalled that when she was about six or seven years old, she stood up on a chair in an airport and put on a show. Her first public performance was before the Gilmer Rotary Club when she was in the fourth grade or so, and she sang for the organization again last summer.
Miss Bishop said she was also the first local student of Dr. Marcy Ragland, from whom she took voice and piano lessons, and who she numbers among her fans.
WHILE ATTENDING college in New York, the one-time Gilmerite was thoroughly schooled on many aspects of the music industry. She received a bachelor of fine arts degree in “entrepreneurship and recorded music as a creative art.”
That entailed learning engineering, the music business, the “ins and outs of music labels,” music theory and performance, Miss Bishop noted.
And she has one very definite thought about her business—she frowns on performers who don’t write their own music. “Unless they’re amazing,” she added.
For example, she considers Whitney Houston the “voice of a generation.”
And what are Miss Bishop’s other tastes in music?
“I like rock n’ roll,” she said, including the “Sid Vicious mentality of ‘I do what I please and get away with it.’”
In addition, “I’m a big Fleetwood Mac fan.” And “(Bruce) Springsteen is amazing,” the onetime Gilmerite averred.
Miss Bishop also loves the work of Carole King, and listens often to Joni Mitchell.
HER OWN CD has a black-and-white photo of her in a wide-eyed pose that is as somber as the message she is trying to convey. It was taken by a onetime NYU student, Kaleb Rollins, at a Manhattan church.
She coproduced the album with Golda McCormack of Brooklyn, who attended NYU with her. Recorded mostly in 2008 at the university as part of a college project—all musicians on it were NYU students—it’s online at various websites: cdbaby.com, digstation.com and iTunes. (It’s also available at her mother’s law office.)
Speaking of her mother, parental influence has played a role in Laura Bishop’s life.
Karen Bishop, who is formerly from New Jersey, is “very liberal,” her daughter said, and the singer guesses she is “my mother’s daughter.”
Miss Bishop also said her mom is her “number one fan ever. She loves my music, and loves to hear me sing.” In addition, the singer’s only sibling, her sister Rachel Bishop, has “been to see me a lot.”
Although her father died in a July 1998 motorcycle accident when she was quite young, Laura Lee Bishop observed that “I see a lot of my dad in my music,” which she terms a “very up-front assault on people.”
David Bishop, himself a Gilmer High School graduate, practiced law for several years here, appearing in court on the day of his tragic death. He “always stood up for what he believed in, and he taught me to do that,” his daughter recalled.
So, as her music takes a stance against such societal woes as greed, corruption and poverty, what is Miss Bishop’s ultimate goal in her industry?
She smiled. “I would say world domination,” she joked.
More seriously, she said she would be happy with being “respected” and “known in the music industry. I would be content with that.”
Before noting that, she made this observation:
“I want to reach as many people with what I love and my music as possible.”
For more on Laura Bishop, see her profile online at yspace.com/lauraleebishop