How Laura Marling’s new music was inspired by Maya Angelou’s ode to motherhood

KCRW’s In Residence sessions feature storytelling performances and commentary from some of our favorite artists. Laura Marling performs new music from her 2020 album “Song For Our Daughter,” and tells us about teaching guitar lessons.

British singer-songwriter Laura Marling has accomplished a lot across seven studio albums and 12 years recording music. She’s garnered Mercury Prize and Grammy nominations, collaborated with Ed O’Brien of Radiohead, Blake Mills and others, and she’s even started teaching online guitar lessons, which she details below. This all to say, she’s a supremely talented artist who moves in dynamic ways within the folk-rock lane. 

Her new album “Song For Our Daughter” was scheduled to come out later this summer but she found an opportunity to connect us all during the COVID crises by releasing it early. Marling said in a statement regarding the change of date, “In light of the change to all our circumstances, I saw no reason to hold back on something that, at the very least, might entertain, and at its best, provide some sense of union.” The album is a nod to Maya Angelou’s collection “Letter To My Daughter.” Marling herself is not a mother but she takes us there through her delicate songwriting — writing for a girl who needs confidence and hope.

Marling last visited Morning Becomes Eclectic in 2017, behind her Grammy-nominated album “Semper Femina,” and we were impressed by the ornate full band performance. For In Residence, she’s stripped back the arrangements to present two tracks from her new album and a throwback to 2011 — all recorded exclusively for KCRW. Check out the session and read on for more about her current projects.

How did your online guitar lessons come about? Are you teaching your own songs or covers? Tell us all about the project.

They came about just as a product of wanting to contribute something to the effort of distracting people (or perhaps myself) from the anxiety over what was going on in the world. In the first week of lockdown in the UK, I started doing live tutorials of some of my old songs, showing people the tricks I use in different tunings, etc. Continue reading

‘I loved the weirdness’ – can Laura Marling’s crowdless gig rescue live music?

The singer played ticketed livestreams from an (almost) empty church to brighten up lockdown. We took up a lonely pew to see if it could match the real thing

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Back at it. Tonight. Twice.

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After three months of shuttered concert venues, hearing Laura Marling’s voice eddy around the Union Chapel in north London is like being dosed with a vitamin I had been leaving out of my diet. It’s almost like hearing live music for the first time; a different kind of beauty than you get on a daily walk or a drive to a castle, something vividly real but constantly evaporating into the air.

There have been plenty of free lo-fi performances by stars on Instagram during lockdown, or charity initiatives such as Together at Home, but Marling’s concert is the next step for a live music sector flailing for its previous levels of artistry and revenue: £900m losses are predicted for this year in the UK. The event is ticketed at £12 or $12 a stream, and while her manager won’t give me exact numbers, he says more than 6,000 have been sold. Michael Chandler, the chief executive of Union Chapel, says events such as this feel like “a glimmer of light” for a shuttered venue that, with two-metre social distancing, could only accommodate 84 of its usual 900 capacity.

“I loved it,” Marling says between her sets, relaxed and happy. “I love the weirdness of the intensity of playing live, and that was a totally uninterrupted version of it. I don’t have to take a break and say something awkward – banter doesn’t come naturally to me.”

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