Adjectives such as diva, songbird, notable, and gifted have been used to describe Laura Martier — but in addition to being a notable jazz and soul vocalist, Martier is also a registered and certified yogi, gong master and co-owner of The Well Yoga Co-op in Kill Devil Hills.
She’s happily married to the love of her life Dan Martier — a journeyman drummer and Pennsylvania-born percussionist who anchors several bands, including TR3, a trio founded by Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist Tim Reynolds of Dave Matthews Band fame. The Southern Shores couple has two grown children: daughter Lucy and son Joshua.
Martier accepted my questions, and her answers give us insight on what makes this very talented lady tick.
Q: Was there a concert you attended that lit a fire under you to be a musician yourself and get up on stage?
A: There wasn’t a concert or anything like that. My father was a singer and guitar player and music was a part of our life from the day I was born, and probably before I was born, as well, as I probably heard him sing to me when I was in my mothers womb. Music was a part of life. As soon as I could speak I sang and when my hands were big enough to hold a guitar, I played. This question assumes that a concert or performance of some sort was my inspiration or fire. But I didn’t see a concert until I was in high school. I was never not a musician or a performer. It was just a natural part of my life.
Q: What’s your favorite venue to play/listen on the Outer Banks?
A: My most memorable performance on the Outer Banks happened at Roanoke Island Festival Park in the small theater when I released my second jazz CD with John Toomey. That’s a really nice sounding venue with great sound equipment and the amazing David Miller on lights. Nice and small — just about 200 seats I think. I also loved being on the stage at First Flight High
School where I performed as Patsy Cline in the play “Always Patsy.” You just can’t beat a big stage with full production. Dan and I recently performed at the Unitarian Church in Kitty Hawk, and that was also a really lovely experience. There are not a lot of opportunities to perform where people are actually listening to you. You just can’t get that in any of the restaurants and bars that are hosting live bands these days
Q: What do you do in the off-season? Do you have a day job?
A: What is a day job? I own a home with one of my best girlfriends in Costa Rica, so I try to spend as much time there as possible in the winter. I’m answering these questions from there right now! While I’m here, I provide music and sound healing for many of my friend’s yoga classes and perform at various local venues. I also study with Shanti Sounds Costa Rica. I am now a gong master and sound meditation facilitator. I’ve been studying for three years and I now have quite a few gongs, crystal bowls, Tibetan bowls and many other sound healing instruments. It’s powerful work and has led us both on a path of service that we would never have guessed we would be on if you would’ve asked us a year or two ago.
Q: Was there a person in your life that motivated you to pursue music?
A: Again, I never pursued music. It’s just a way of life for me and always has been. My father was my first inspiration and motivation and although he can no longer sing and play the guitar I still want to make him proud. But now my children, Josh and Lucy, are my main inspiration and motivation. They are both very talented musicians in their own right and very unique in their own ways and they are constantly turning me onto new music and inspiring me with the way they create.
Q: If you could perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
A: I would have to say my children. I don’t get to perform with them very often it’s been almost a year and a half now since we were all on stage together. That’s the best feeling ever and I hope we can do it again.
Q: Is there a song that you wish you’d written?
A: I never wish that I had written anyone else’s song! I’m grateful to write and express myself through my own songs and music and I’m always amazed at the inspiration and abundance of creativity that can be shaped into music.
Q: If you could choose a time period in which to perform music, what would it be?
A: I would choose this present moment because this is all I have.
Q: Do you listen to new music and if so, what are you listening to?
A: Nessie Gomes, “Diamonds and Demons,” Kronos Quartet & Laurie Anderson “Landfall,” Tash Sultana. Narkopop. Aldous Harding. It’s endless. I’m constantly listening to music
Q: McCartney or Lennon?
Q: Where were you the first time you performed onstage?
A: Probably my dad’s company picnic, second or third grade.
Q: When you write a song, is it positive or negative inspiration that drives you?
A: I’m not big on defining things in a way that make them this or that. I am interested in authenticity. Is what I’m writing coming from me? From my own observations, experiences, my heart? I prefer the word inspire… and that means so many things. On our Bird-Dog album, most of the songs were written by me and the context and inspiration for each of them are so different. One was spurred on by driving past fields of sugarcane in Costa Rica. Another was looking at a title of a book and going from there, which is the title track “Open Air. “Another was sitting in a hotel room in Pittsburgh watching snow fall through a window. A few are inspired by my relationship with Dan. It’s very organic.
Q: Your favorite album?
A: I don’t have a favorite album. But I do listen to Jai Uttal’s “Music for Yoga and Other Joys” quite a bit. I also love Pat Metheny’s “As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls.”
Q: Your favorite song?
A: Again, I don’t have a favorite song but there are a few that have stayed with me most of my life: “Two Hands” King Crimson, “Lady Wants to Know” Michael Franks — those two connect me deeply to a place and time and Dan — “Where is Love” from “Oliver,” my daughter Lucy and I would sing that when she was a baby, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” Roberta Flack — that’s my moms favorite song, and I love singing it for her.
Q: Are you self-taught?