Sunday, August 6 • 1:30pm • The Bowl
Laura Anne Gibson is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who began her music career in Portland, Oregon. Her debut album, If You Come to Greet Me, was released in 2006 with The Decemberists’s drummer Rachel Blumberg who also collaborated on her second album Beasts of Seasons.
Gibson performed at South by Southwest in 2007 to promote If You Come to Greet Me, and in 2008, kicked off NPR’s first-ever Tiny Desk Concert. The Tiny Desk series has become one of NPR’s most popular features and has since hosted such diverse acts as alt-J, T-Pain, Adele, Drive by Truckers, and Jose Gonzalez.
Her release in 2012, La Grande, was named after and inspired by the city of La Grande, Oregon. Pitchfork wrote of the album: “Rather than another exercise in genre-dabbling and dilettantism, La Grande succeeds as a cohesive work thanks to the persistence of Gibson’s vision. As a songwriter she’s preoccupied with those timeless questions of the human condition, but seldom if ever stumbles into pretension or self-satisfaction.”
Gibson has composed music and lyrics for multiple commercials, including a version of “Hey There Little Red Riding Hood” for Volvo, as well as original music for Microsoft and the Humane Society. In 2014 Gibson composed the song “Live Long in Oregon” for the Cover Oregon Campaign, the Oregon branch of the Affordable Health Care Act. In 2015, Gibson was principal composer and lyricist for Up the Fall, a musical production created for performers with developmental disabilities, for the Portland-based Non-Profit PHAME Academy. She has also collaborated with Oregon Ballet Theatre and Portland Playhouse.
Empire Builder, Laura Gibson’s fourth LP, is named for the Amtrak route Laura took while moving from Portland, Oregon to New York City in the summer of 2014, after deciding to enter graduate school, to move away from a supportive community, a close-knit family and her long-time boyfriend. Out of her comfort zone, she found even more of a challenge than she’d envisioned. Immediately upon arrival, she broke her foot and barely left her 5th floor apartment for the first two months. Then, on March 26th, 2015, her East Village building burned to the ground in a horrific gas explosion which killed two people and left many homeless.
Gibson escaped from her apartment unharmed, but lost everything: all identification, eyeglasses, musical instruments, years of notebooks and every word she had written in response to her move. She spent the next few months rebuilding her life, bouncing between friends’ couches and guest rooms, finishing her second semester, and all the while rewriting the lyrics she’d lost. A financial recovery was made possible with help and support from hundreds of friends, fans and strangers. It’s no surprise that Empire Builder stands as her most personal, beautiful and critically acclaimed record to date.