Laura Fernandez- Born in Madrid, Spain, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada: singer, songwriter, pianist, music producer, painter, award-winning illustrator and designer, radio host/producer. Laura was born in Madrid into a family that boasted Laura’s great grandfather as the mayor. She lived in Switzerland as a child, and her parents migrated to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she spent her youth. Laura’s father was an architect, engineer and a painter, and as a result, Laura grew up in a household where art, creativity and culture were valued and encouraged. Laura excelled in academics and ultimately dedicated her life to art. She graduated from the Alberta College of Art with honours and moved to Toronto, Ontario to begin a successful career in illustration, and where she launched her music career.
Laura had always loved and played music, and completed piano studies at The Royal Conservatory of Music. However, her primary creative outlet had been art; with a distinguished career consisting of commercial illustration, children’s book illustration, design projects and other commissioned work. Some of her commissioned portraits include Margaret Atwood, Bill Gates Senior, and Sir Richard Francis Burton for the permanent collection of the Royal Geographic Society in London, England. Commercial Illustration commissions include works for companies such as Estée Lauder, Air Canada, E.D. Smith, Loblaws, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola. She has illustrated children’s picture books including Jeremiah Learns To Read, Magnificent Piano Recital, Anne Of Green Gables, Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, and Tchaikovsky Discovers America. With Rick Jacobson, Fernandez won prestigious industry awards such as the Ruth Schwartz Award,the New York Art Directors Club Award of Excellence, and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, a gold medal for illustration awarded by the Canadian Library Association. She has received multi Toronto Art Directors Awards and a Communication Arts Magazine’s Award of Excellence for 4 consecutive years.
Laura Fernandez’s transition to a career as a recording artist and performer was a natural extension of her work as a visual artist, who sees her musical compositions as paintings, but expressed in a different medium. Laura says: “Painting, and especially illustrating for 25 years, had become limiting for me and wasn’t answering all my creative questions. Music has become a voyage of self-discovery for me. There are no rules here, and this is exciting and liberating to me. I love the social aspects of making music, and the fact that it is a more direct route to the heart than painting.”Laura launched her debut CD The Other Side in 2003, an English language collection of songs described as lyric driven, melodic folk, rock-pop with a groove. She won the Best Soft Rock Award at the 2003 New York International Independent Music Festival, which included performances at Madison Square Gardens; she has performed at venues such as the Knitting Factory, The Bitter End, The Continental, The TD Toronto Jazz Festival, Winterfolk, and the World Music Festival In Varadero, Cuba. She is on the Board of Directors of the Association of Artists for a Better World.
On October 27, 2010, Laura Fernandez released her second CD, Un Solo Beso. For producer, Laura found her musical soulmate in Montreal born, Toronto based JUNO Award winning Billy Bryans,who is recognized as one of Canada’s leading Latin and world music promoters, DJ and also the co-leader and percussionist of the internationally acclaimed Canadian band, The Parachute Club. Billy helped ensure cohesiveness within such an eclectic album. He explains:
“The musical quest for me was to find each song a ‘home’ where they could have a distinctive flavour and personality that supported the lyrics and the melody. Some songs ended up in specific Latin American styles like merengue, bolero, and salsa, some ended up with a kind of hybrid sound, and some stayed in their original singer/songwriter structure.”
This musical marriage created Un Solo Beso, fusing two approaches: the discipline of pop-folk songwriting; and the musically expansive sounds of Latin and jazz styles.
Un Solo Beso was recorded at Toronto recording studios Hallamusic, Canterbury Sound and Serpent One, and features three arrangers creating diversity that was true to Laura’s songwriting styles: JUNO award winning pianist Hilario Duran, guitarist/bandleader Luis Mario Ochoa, and keyboardist Roberto Linares Brown. All songs on Un Solo Beso were written by Laura Fernandez, except ‘Inolvidable’, by Julio Gutierrez and ‘Red Red Bird’ by Noah Zacharin, with Spanish translation by Laura Fernandez. Noah is the co-writer of A Mi Padre and Que Linda es La Noche. Un Solo Beso features some of Toronto’s most vibrant and highly acclaimed musicians including Hilario Duran,Roberto Linares Brown, Luis Mario Ochoa, Noah Zacharin, Glenda Del Monte Escalante, Alberto Alberto, Elmer Ferrer, Luiz Deniz, Roberto Riveron , Joaquin Hidalgo, Chendy León,Jalidan Ruiz, and Alexis Baro.
Laura Fernandez has officially been named to the Steinway Artist roster. She is the 20th member of this illustrious list from Canada, joining such contemporary artists as Billy Joel, Diana Krall, Harry Connick Jr, Lang Lang, and past music greats such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Glenn Gould and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Steinway & Sons maintains a selective process in naming Steinway Artists – choosing only pianists who demonstrate a love of Steinway pianos and a standard of excellence in their music.
Laura also found expression and joy in working with musicians who shared her Spanish language mother tongue; and did not feel constraint by genre barriers, instead preferred to let each song take on its own shape organically: Laura explains: “This made for an amazing connection, as language brings people together in a different way. We wanted to give every song its own personality. Instead of focusing on a record that would sound the same, I made a record that has a variety of characters. I don’t stick to convention in my life, so why should I in music? I have to write what I feel inside and I also want to reach out and bring people and elements together.”
Laura Fernandez is performing concerts of Un Solo Beso and planning touring activities for 2011-2012. Based in Toronto, she is the producer and host of Café Latino on Toronto’s JazzFM91. She is a certified and award winning Real Estate Agent for Royal LePage/ Johnston and Daniel Division where she is affiliated as a music and recording artist with the Royal LePage Shelter which donates to the YWCA Arise Shelter for Women and Children.