How long have you been singing?
After an unfortunate experience in sixth-grade chorus, I never sang again until I got involved in choral productions in Juneau, beginning in 2004. I am so grateful to the Juneau musical community for welcoming me and helping me find my voice.
Who do you draw inspiration from as a singer?
My husband, John Haywood, is a beautiful singer who has shown me what you can do if you work hard.
What has been one of your favorite roles or events to participate in as a performer in Juneau?
I am proud that I started Juneau Cabaret and have loved singing there. It is a great venue for fledgling and experienced singers to find their own performing style in a warm, supportive atmosphere. Other high points are the JLO Vocal Festivals with Byron McGilvray and the Juneau Jazz & Classics Cabaret with Barney McClure. I have been told that my rendition of “My Attorney Bernie” killed.
What has been one of your favorite performances to watch as an audience member in Juneau?
I will never forget Kathleen Wayne’s performance in Puccini’s “Suor Angelica.” Chokes me up just to think about it.
If you could trade places with a performer for a day, who would it be?
Just one? I’d be a great jazz singer who performs all over the world, like Jane Monheit, Karrin Allyson and Dianne Reeves.
What has been your favorite part about being a diva?
I am loving bringing out my inner diva. It’s a process that we are documenting with a series of funny short videos; the first one will be released soon. Please visit my Facebook page for La Diva Laura to see what we’ve released.
What is your diva style like?
Face it: I’m the oldest diva, and I don’t have the spectacular pipes that most of the other divas have. But I have plenty of life experiences to draw on and a lot of chutzpah. My transformation will be kind of like Susan Boyle’s, only without the incredible voice.
When you are not being a diva, what do you do?
I just started a wonderful new job as executive director of Juneau Lyric Opera. (However, I was selected to be a diva well before that happened!)
Other than on stage, what is your favorite place to sing?
I love to sing while hiking on the Treadwell trails with my dog. He likes me to sing in the great outdoors — makes it easier for him to get away from it.
What songs (or performers) give you goosebumps when you hear them?
I admit I love tragic songs, like any of those wrist-slitting Puccini arias. And I love anything sung by Audra MacDonald, Dawn Upshaw and the late great Nancy Lamott.
What tips do you have for inspiring divas?
Don’t compare yourself to others. Probably even Barbra Streisand finds fault with her own voice. Just make sure you know the song inside out and sideways and then let it out!