Laura Minor - Finding her voice

Laura Minor is a very new to singing -- at least in public. The 28-year-old Florida native hooked up with her first band just over a year ago, and had only performed with them three times when HighTone Records offered a deal. The quintet's resulting airy, twangy rock debut, Salesman's Girl, was released this summer. At heart, though, Minor, a poetry and literature major in college, says she has always been a musician. "I always envisioned myself as this crabby jazz lounge singer who had several ex-husbands," laughs Minor. "That's how I saw myself when I was eight." "I never imagined myself in a rock band until I was in college; then my idols changed to Stevie Nicks and Heart," she recalls. However, her musical ambitions remained just that -- part of her imagination. Rock music, particularly the indie-rock scene she explored during four years of college in New York City, didn't provide the right format for either her fantasies -- "No one looked like Janis Joplin," laments Minor -- nor her voice. "Because of my country background, whenever I open my mouth it comes out country," says Minor, who spent her formative years in Tallahassee and now lives in Gainesville. "I had some friends in Jersey in this abstract hip-hop group, Dalek. They were one of the first people to say, 'Come and sing.' They were like, 'We're just going to play around, you do what you do.' It was so funny -- it had this Patsy Cline meets Fiona Apple with beats kind of thing." Even in these musically hybrid-heavy times, that sound did not work. Though the experience was encouraging, Dalek advised her to go back to the drawing board. "They said, 'You need to go back as if you were 16 years old and find your first band and learn how to write songs. You need to find a guitar player who loves your voice and you love his melodies." Without actively pursuing that advice, Minor, who had moved back to Gainesville and enrolled in a literature program there, met guitarist Jared Flamm. Their perfect fit is apparent on Salesman's Girl, an easygoing rootsy rock record with definite country highlights. Minor's sweet 'n' sincere voice is unassuming but potent, landing somewhere between Sheryl Crow and Liz Phair. Though the record is billed under her name, Minor insists it's more than a singer-songwriter-and-backing-band affair. "It started out with Jared and me, then everybody got involved," she says of her cohorts, guitarist Aaron Carr and bassist Devin Moore. (Original drummer Jeff Lataille was recently replaced by Richard Gowen.) "It's not a band name, but this is a collective effort," she says. "There's no way I'd take credit for this; I could never do it without them and would never want to."