Strike a Match: Lauren Henderson’s Flame Grows Bright

Lauren Henderson 2

Surrounding herself with extraordinary musicians, Lauren Henderson brings on the heat with fierce vocals and communicates a sense of longing for somebody we love. With a brand new amazing CD called “Armame” and an even newer one about to be released, Henderson’s range of expression is unstoppable. Just step aside and let her music happen to you.

She often sings in Spanish but there are no language barriers here; for instance, in “Tanto Amor” you only need to know what the title means (“So Much Love”) to understand she is talking about the wave after wave of passion we can’t run from in a love affair. With a hypnotic hook, the song is a perfect display case for her storytelling talents. The bass’s funky opener in “Stranded” is an intro to Henderson’s clear, smooth voice that does not disappoint. In her thoughtful take on the beautiful “December Ballad” (featuring absolutely gorgeous trumpet solos) she sings with such delicacy and tonal depth that one is immediately put in the mind of the inescapable laws of attraction.

What is your first memory of singing in public?

It was at church. I grew up in an Episcopal church that wanted to incorporate different styles of music. I was a member of the gospel choir and one day, the alto section wasn’t quite grasping their part. The choir director asked us all to go down the line and individually sing the particular section of the song.  After I sang it, he asked why I had never auditioned for a solo. I was a senior in high school at the time and had always loved studying music but was very nervous and shy to sing in public.

I was given my first solo without the option of saying “no thank you” the following week. Although I was terrified, it went well. Soloing became more natural in time.

Which artists have influenced you?

I grew up listening to Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday regularly. I also listened to quite a bit of the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban All Stars. Through the years, I’ve fallen more in love with the recordings of Shirley Horn, Julie London and Anita O’Day. I’ve had the honor of studying with Jane Monheit, Michael Kanan and Barry Harris. I find Marc Anthony’s interpretations of classic Latin standards very insightful, as well as Diego El Cigala. 

How would you describe your individual style?

Laid-back, moody, sensual and expressive. I love playing with space and time while doing my best to convey the message.

What is meant by fusion vocals?

Simply that I am drawing from different styles and techniques from an array of genres. I tend to pull from the various aspects of my cultures.  

How did your music come to be featured in the film “The Drowning”?

I was fortunate enough to be put in touch with Mark Ruffin who is an incredible producer, Emmy winner, musical director and so much more, who had heard my original song “Accede” on my second record “A la Madrugada.” He was the music supervisor for the film and played the crucial role in getting my music placed.

Did studying flamenco help you develop as a vocalist?

Absolutely. It’s helped me in so many ways; not only musically, but also in being aware of my body and how I use it in a performance. The beautiful complexities have helped my time.

Talk about writing the songs for your current CD “Armame” and what does the name refer to?

Writing the music for “Ármame” was very natural. I wanted to draw on experiences from present and past relationships.

The melody and lyrics came quite quickly. Ármame means “arm me” in Spanish. I am referring to the heart with the title… a way of arming and protecting the heart.

Lauren Henderson CD

What are the most interesting tracks on this?

Clearly, I am biased, but I love all of the tracks for different reasons. Some of the arrangements I am most proud of include “The Great City,” “Let Me Love You,” “Better Days” which Terri Lyne Carrington helped with immensely, “Inside A Silent Tear” and “We’re Still Friends.” 

Talk about the musicians on your CD.

This is the third record I have done with Sullivan Fortner. Not only is he a remarkable pianist, he’s a dear friend and excellent collaborator.  

Joe Saylor was instrumental in coming up with amazing rhythmic additions. He really brought the songs to life and added unique aspects that I never would have dreamed of.

Godwin Louis and Josh Evans added incredible solos and horn parts throughout the record and they add so much color to it.

Eric Wheeler is incredibly expressive and solid throughout the record. His strength shines through.

Nick Tannura is a remarkable guitarist who really helped bring out the fusion colors and blew me away with his solo on “We’re Still Friends.” 

Nanny Assis was a very special addition for both me and Mark. The flair he brings to the record is priceless.

Finally, I’ve always admired Terri Lyne Carrington as an outstanding drummer and percussionist. When Mark played me a recording of her singing, I was really impressed and intrigued. I am so grateful she is featured singing with me on “Better Days” and “To Wisdom the Prize.”

Is this the debut of your label Brontosaurus and how did the creative freedom enhance the overall album?

This is the first release for my record label, Brontosaurus Records. I believe the freedom to create, expand and tell my stories without restraints helped make this record unique. At Brontosaurus, we hope to give artists the freedom to express and share their artistry without limitations.

What will you convey with the upcoming CD “Protocol” and how are you able to produce a new CD so soon after “Armame”?

I’ll be exploring social and political complexities throughout “Protocol,” as well as love and the difficult barriers people face. I have so much music to share, I’d release many more records if time and budget permitted.

We are about 50% done with the recording process.  

What is most exciting about this new CD?

I think the honesty and intensity of the album are most exciting. I only hope that emotion reaches the people who listen.

How do you take care of your voice?

I love tea! I try to take care of my body in general, working out, eating sensibly, but “try” is the operative word. I have been working on drinking more water, it makes such a difference. Staying hydrated is essential.

What advice would you give emerging artists?

I would tell emerging artist to be true to themselves and uncover their own unique voice. Never let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dreams or make you feel like your authentic self isn’t sufficient. You are capable of incredible things.

Other comments?

Thank you so much for featuring me. I am so honored to share my experiences with you and others. I hope you enjoy the music! 

For more information, visit

Photos courtesy of and with permission of Lauren Henderson.
© Debbie Burke 2018

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