‘Grande’ belle

Singer-songwriter Laura Gibson is cherished for her quaint, angelic ballads. She’s similarly lovely herself.

The Portland-based chanteuse was raised in the tiny city of Coquille right off the Oregon coast and grew up in a home with a father stricken by cancer. Those experiences made Gibson wise beyond her years, always introspective and deliberate from then onward. It shows both in her music and actions.

Grateful for the help of hospice workers during those tough times, she started giving back in the form of music. For two years, she played weekly shows at an AIDS hospice in the Rose City.

“At the time, I thought that’s what my musical outlet would always be,” she said. “If I didn’t have that experience, I may not have fallen in love with sharing songs with people in the same way.”

She slowly worked her way into other sorts of gigs, like periodic performances at her nephews’ elementary school. They were equally informing.

“You get this idea of letting go of your inhibitions and just living in the moment,” Gibson said. “The editor part of you goes away, and that’s a message I need to be reminded of.”

embraces that childlike wonder and throws those old cautions to the
wind with her new album, “La Grande,” an indie-folk ode to the American
West and her home state.

lot of what was going on in my life is reflected in the record, and I
was interesting in transcending my own timidity, both in music and in
life,” Gibson said. “I was interested in where self-confidence comes
from and where to find it in yourself.”

that confidence led Gibson to letting her hair down, exploring new
worlds and creating wilder arrangements, all while maintaining the
warmth ever-present in her music. An explosion of ideas resulted,
fleshing out what previously had been rather subtle and intimate in

“It’s much
more expansive, instrumentally,” she said. “It used to be all about the
other instruments responding to me and my guitar. This time, I wanted
the instruments to take the lead in songs. Rhythm became the backbone to
the record.”

Photo by Parker Fitzgerald

Joshua Boydston

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