The winding road that led to LaVon Hardison’s fourth album, There Will Be Trouble, was itself full of trouble and detours. Born in Boston, LaVon’s path has woven through dead-end day jobs, church choirs, commercial voiceover work, musical theater, TV acting, opera, stage acting, inspirational music, a swing duo, and more. People told her she was good at this, or should sound more like that.
Now this electrifying performer has clearly found her own voice. She has distilled all of that experience into a pure musical elixir. She calls her music jazz, but soul, country, pop, punk and other influences bubble tantalizingly just beneath the surface.
“I try to make music that delights me,” she says. “When I first started singing jazz I felt that I had to do it a certain way. I had to be sultry and sophisticated. Now I follow my gut and I follow the song. I am more open musically. Time, mixed with life experience, awakens new depths in songs.”
Oh, and about the “Trouble” in the album title: It’s a line from The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” of course, but it’s also a metaphor for the state of the world. “There’s plenty of trouble these days,” LaVon says. But she also sees music as part of the solution.
“Trouble can be uncomfortable,” she says, “but it can also be the beginning of healing. You have to ask: Who is this trouble serving?”
“Anytime you introduce art or music into the world, it’s going to shift things. It’s either a mirror reflecting reality, or it will break someone’s heart open to see something within themselves. That kind of exposure is considered dangerous. The world is working very hard to keep up the veneer. Art and theater continue to tear down that facade. For some people, that’s troublesome. For me, it’s just perfect. I don’t even think of it as a conscious choice; it’s my natural response to the world.”
Was there any trouble in making this album? “Anytime I get a creative idea, there’s always potential for trouble,” LaVon admits. “It may not end up as well as I hoped it would end up. The creative process is exactly that: there may be trouble. There could also be great joy. Or heartbreak. Or all of that together, all happening at the same time.”
All of that messy life stuff is what LaVon is beautifully bringing to her fans through her expressive voice and her band’s creative arrangements. Take this musical journey with her, and you can understand why LaVon is an audience favorite, and was acclaimed as Earshot Jazz’s 2017 Northwest Vocalist of the Year and winner of the 2016 Seattle-Kobe Female Jazz Vocalist Audition.
“A stylishly eclectic singer, Hardison is an artist for whom the song is king. She’s the type of interpreter who knows how to put across the emotion and subtlety in a melody without overselling it, and she has a talent for getting inside the story that each song tells.”
— Andrew Luthringer, Earshot Jazz
“I’m not sure I ever fell in love with someone as quickly and irrevocably as with LaVon Hardison. Being raised in the Gospel of the church, being trained in the opera, now delivering Jazz vocals difficult to compare, and with a band that knows how to create what LaVon envisions, has given her all she needs to give her audience an experience of joy, passion, fun and…let me say it…love”
— Travis Rogers, Jr. aka The Jazz Owl, Jazz Times
“Cover albums like this are great jumping off points for anyone looking to get into Jazz music without going full bore and trying to understand the kaleidoscope of sounds the genre sometimes has to offer. If you’re like me, a film lover and soundtrack fan, you’re going to find yourself connecting with the album easily. If you’re not, Hardison and company offer up a potpourri of styles on the album that should grab your attention and bring you in from start to finish.”
— AJ Garcia, Shakefire