Lara Lavi never sleeps.
Right and left brained, there simply isn’t time in the day for all she does. Called once by Bonnie Raitt as “One of the best kept secrets in the music world,” Lara is a media/tech/entertainment law attorney, an entrepreneur, an entertainment company executive, a business development specialist, a film and TV producer & writer, and a professional Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter. Lara is the managing partner of her Seattle based boutique law firm Media Law Group. She has been practicing law since 1987 while concurrently growing as an artist and managing her production company Dreaming in Color that also houses her indie label Very Juicy Records she runs with her husband, Producer Maurice Jones Jr. Praised as a truly talented songwriter and performer by the likes of Peter Gabriel, The Neville Brothers, Carol King, and concert promoter Bill Graham, The Village Voice called Lara the “Quintessential Songstress.”
Lara recorded award winning albums and wrote as a professional writer for Warner Chappell publishing for several decades and then took a break to raise, who turned out to be her highly musical son Cameron Miles Lavi-Jones of Gypsy Temple fame before returning to the stage. “I like to think I grew my own guitar player,” laughs Lara.
“I think my message to the world now is that life is definitely NOT over after 50. I have survived major illnesses and highs and lows in my law and business career, but one thing has been constant for as long as I can remember, and that is - I know who I am as an artist and this carries me through everything” explains Lara. “Powerful people in the music industry over the years have held me up, taught me a great deal and encouraged me to keep going. This next phase of my career is the best because I truly think I have evolved to such an improved place in my songwriting. “Youth is so wasted on the young!” exclaims Lara, “All my life I have been running to other’ people’s finish lines, but no more! Now I say when, where, how and why and I am running to my own finish line.” The new album is of course called Finish Line and includes a large collection of songs both full band and scaled down that define Lara’s perspective as she keeps running on her own terms.
Lara began her musical career as a classical piano prodigy starting at age three. At seven she added the violin. At 18 the guitar and at 21 the viola. Concurrent with playing classical music, Lara wrote poetry and in her teens started writing songs. By the time she was 19 she had dropped out of the University of Chicago to sing in the Blues Bars of Chicago including the famous Kingston Mines where bluesman Jimmy Johnson took her under his wing and taught her how to sing the blues. She eventually toured with Buddy Guy and Junior Wells until her wild ride ended when her parents insisted she finish her University Studies at the University of Michigan. During law school, one of her greatest mentors, Charles Neville the Sax player for the mighty New Orleans based Neville Brothers was one of the first to teach Lara how to run a band and perfect her emotional performance style. Her first single River of Hope off her debut album The Art of Living, is an ode to Charles’s own journey to kick heroin once and for all and scored over 200 radio station launching Lara into the national music scene. Lara’s bands toured supporting the Neville Brothers for many years which is really where Lara learned the ropes in the national and international music business with Bill Graham Management supporting her rise as a songstress and performer.
Lara’s second solo album, Inside The Red Room, is a brilliant collection of exquisite songs and production, and includes the single Terri’s Garden which has enjoyed airplay on over 500 plus radio stations and online radio playlists for two decades. The song is about her sister Terri and her journey to find her own joy in her own metaphoric garden, an accomplishment her sister certainly achieved.
Lara’s collection of indie albums also includes an amazing collection of songs never released called Mermaid Under A Desert Moon: The Lost Sessions. These songs are from digging around in the Lara Lavi archives of thousands of songs and hand picking these tracks from various recording sessions over 20 years including a couple songs that really stand out – Louis Star – written for her time as an attorney with the Muckleshoot Tribe and How High is Too High, both recorded by Reed Ruddy at Studio X in Seattle when it was still called Kaye Smith and Bad Animals Studios. Both songs represent the intensity of Lara’s storytelling and production drama so signature to her sound.
Lara has always been focused on The Lara Lavi Band but she also is the lead English speaking singer and co-writer for the Native American Grammy winning SongCatchers which she founded with Charles Neville, Mark Cardenas who is also a co-writer and plays keys in The Lara Lavi Band, award winning Native singer Arlie Neskahi, Dine` nation and eventually her husband – producer, bassist and fellow Lara Lavi Band mate Maurice Jones Jr. The SongCatchers are an incredible fusion of Native American Singing and Drumming with rock, soul, jazz and spoken word and Peter Gabriel took them on the WOMAD tours and called them “Spine Tingling.”
“During my first 10 years of my law practice I was one of the attorneys for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and it was there I was schooled on Native American inter-tribal culture. I was so inspired. I wanted part of my artistry to embrace this unique window into a world most people never get near. Bringing Charles Neville in and eventually the other founders have been one of the most amazing musical experiences of my life and I am glad that the SongCatchers are receiving renewed interest.
Lara’s influences include Americana superstars including Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow. Lucinda Williams, and Emmy Lou Harris. Lara’s own style reflects the true grit of an Americana singer songwriter, story teller and truth-sayer sharing one epiphany after another of her race to her own finish line.
The Lara Lavi band is Lara on lead vocals, viola & piano, Maurice Jones Jr. on Bass, Jeff Carolus on guitar, Mark Cardenas on keys, Sly Jones on drums and whenever his Gypsy Temple schedule allows, Cameron Miles Lavi-Jones on guitar.
Lara has definitely figured it out with this gem of a new album Finish Line coming, her band, family and legal work all lined up beautifully…..finally. Produced by Lara Lavi and Maurice Jones Jr. and mixed by Justin Armstrong, Finish Line comes in 2018 come hell or high water.