Blog: Carol Laula

The Scottish singer reflects on her career as she celebrates the 25th anniversary of her debut album Still

Hero image

It’s very strange to think that I’ve been doing “this” for over 25 years! All that time since I released my first album, Still.

What is “this”? What is 25 years? How do you measure that? Is at a lifetime? Is it a good age? Is it time to get a real job? Who knows?

I certainly don’t know how to quantify it but I know that it’s been some ride. Mostly ups and, of course, some downs, but I know that I get to wake up every day, still, and work out how I want to spend it – usually making music in some shape or form.

When I started to write songs (over 25 years ago) it was always any time, anywhere, any place – the Martini Gal, they used to call me! I would do it at the drop of a hat. But as time moved on and I never quite managed to get that number one spot in the charts, I realised that I’d have to change course ever so slightly.

I still wanted to make a living out of sharing my music so I sought out different opportunities – ones that would pay my bills and keep the wolves from my door.

As time has gone on, the music industry embraces artists pursuing what some call a portfolio career. In other words, they do other stuff around music but still keep writing, performing and releasing music as their focus.

As part of this portfolio career I do a million different things. Days vary between watching reruns of the West Wing, songwriting workshops, drinking coffee with my pals and singing.

I work with Bookbug, an early-years progamme that delivers training to those who will share music, rhymes and books within families – often-vulnerable families. I also work with organisations like the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. They have an excellent community arm to their practice which sees me delivering songwriting projects, along with drama and visual arts, in homeless units and prisons, for example. Just on Sunday, I shared a singing workshop with the Pace Youth Theatre group in Paisley.

It is hugely satisfying to do this kind of work on a daily basis. Not just for my soul – how can music be bad, right? But, for my head: for the wee ghosties in there that are often shouting at me. I can say: “But look. Here I am. I am still making a living out of music – 25 years on!”

I view this as my biggest and most satisfying achievement. And, it’s not like it’s just good fun. No, no, no – it’s special and luxurious, for me, at least.

Just the other week, Paisley’s Lady Provost invited me to a dinner. Paisley is my hometown and this fancy-nancy person was inviting ME to dinner. (She was in my school, way back. A few years above me, if you please!)

Anyway, I thought the dinner was for inspirational women, which was already a huge honour. To be thought of as inspirational in my hometown was incredible. And I thought: ‘Why? What’s inspirational about me?” And as I worked my way round the room I met many women who’d inspired me: politicians, visual artists, actors, community workers, singers. Again, there I was, blessed to be viewed in that way, blessed to be in such awesome, inspiring company.

Then imagine my slight surprise (and huge embarrassment) when I read that the dinner invite was actually for influential women of Paisley.

WHAT? Influential? ME???

Then I thought of a story. One of my homeless ladies was at rock bottom. She was using, she was at the end of the road, she had lost her children, there was no way out. Then, through her taking the small steps of coming to songwriting workshops, she started to find something long gone – onfidence, pride, a bit of laughter. It took a while but now she is living in her own flat, loving each day as if it’s her first and finding new ways to appreciate, to love and to enjoy herself.

I like to think that any influence and inspiration I’ve shared was not only a small part of her journey but also a huge part of mine. To touch and to share in some way is a blessing that being a singer-songwriter has brought to my door. I am grateful.

So who knows what 25 years is? But here’s to the next 25.

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to Blog: Carol Laula

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.