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Laura Freeman
By Terry Roland

What is to follow is a highly fictionalized account of the life of characters which exist only in the life and mind of singer-songwriter, Laura Freeman. Which facts are true may be unclear to the reader, but still read on. One thing is true, Laura Freeman should not be regarded as 'just' a writer and performer of children songs, but as a talented performance artist and musician who adults will enjoy as well. So, if you dare continue to read, see if you can find the real Laura Freeman. 

                              
A Short Biography of Luna Tart 

There are strange goings-ons in Austin these days. If you go there, beware. But, no need to worry about vampires, werewolves or even right-wing neo-cons. No, but there is a woman, playing a man dressed as a woman; a torch singer of uncommon wit with a forever broken heart. She is the very definition of a woman of the night and her name is Luna Tart. She wears a beret, hangs out in smokey dark cabarets and sings in her tortured voice about the virtues of drag and the men who have broken her heart.  Each time she hits the stage, she brings of a piece of her heart that has been torn out by some cruel lover. She seems to think she lives in Berlin in the 30's. She may be the mentor of Marlene Dietrich or she may be her illegitimate child born on some foggy night in the backstage of dingy bar. But, she is there for the taking.  And she loves to tell her stories and sing her songs channeled by a lady named.....Laura Freeman. 
 
The Long Biography of Laura Freeman, Woman Behind the Myth or the Mythe Behind the Woman . . . or, Whatever!!!
 
Then, there is the person behind the personae just mentioned; musician extraordinaire Laura Freeman--a talented songwriter, dog lover, children musician. She is like a meteorite when she is performing for children. She is a true Pied Piper of folk, going into the world of children and engaging them in a way that will leave most serious adults in her dust while the kids cheer, laugh and play with more imagination and fun than they could imagine. Witness her YouTube videos and you will see an artist who fully embodies her art with passion, wit and a style all her own, which transcends age and generations. She will not allow adults to do anything short of being kids again. From fan comments on her website, she has made both adult and child conquests with her music and live performances. If she is full of energy and she is not hesitant to share it with others. 
 
What is most impressive about her recorded releases for children, including her debut A Baker's Dozen, is she has recorded and written songs which will leave parents returning to play her music long after the kids have been tucked into bed.  Her writing and music is of such good quality she can skip rope across the age-bridge that separates us fromh her own original musical imagination. There is a rainbow,  which constantly follows her children music, just as sure as there is a dark cloud which follows Luna Tart.  Her 2005 release Color Wheel Cartwheel is a concept album about the world of colors. It takes her audience through each color with its own song and number with the term 'rainbow' in the language of people from all over the world.
 
Prior to going into children music, she found herself craving more than the music she was playing and writing. She wanted something unique to herself. She began by playing songs for the children in her neighborhood in New Orleans and discovered she had a knack for it.  Thus began her entertaining and magical dance into music for children.  
 
Though her album releases are few, they are mighty. Her first album is for adults. Laura Freeman's Greatest Hit in Her 20's and 30's displays her unique style of songwriting and singing best described as a Sally Bowles meets Maria Muldar approach. Baker's Dozen, her next, has titles like "Creepy, Crawly Stew," "Compost Heap," and "Little Yella Dog."  Her song themes are original imaginative and engaging with songs like "My Brother is a Monster," and a journey into "Antarctica." In 2004, her song "Fruit Boogie" was included on an the album Shaking it Up! With Fruits and Veggies, used in Los Angeles Unified School District. 
 
Her most recent release, 2009's Somersault Season, is themed around the seasons and physical movement. The songs are meant to get the listener, child and adult alike, to dance, march, walk and run. It works. I was chased out of Starbucks by marching around the coffee shop without my shoes shouting, "My brother's a monster and I'm a monster too!"  After I was released from the state hospital I continued to listen and found this to be one great record for young and old alike. 
 
Her approach is not the kind of music that patronizes kids as though they are only capable of taking in primary and blandly animated music. Rather, Laura surprises kids and adults alike with highly skilled, excellent quality 20's and 30's ragtime jazz and the liveliest of folk and jug band music.
 
Currently she tours the Austin area with her band, The Hey Lolly Lollies, performing for children.  There is also the puppet show called, "Iris Saves The Land of Black and White"  that tells the story of the little girl Iris who must bring color to a black and white land. This becomes a great vehicle for teaching life lessons about the variety and diversity of experiences in the world.  According to the Austin Chronicle, Laura's show is consistently about universality and the multi-culture nature of the entire world. 

"Laura Freeman's monthly children's music performances often held at Ruta Maya cafe coax wide grins from the grumpiest. Her newest show, Color Wheel Cartwheel, sets Roy G. Biv a-spinning in his rainbow footie pajamas. This happy, bouncy, and poetic children's music is written and sung by our local redheaded chanteuse, who leads the listener through the names of the colors of the rainbow in nine different languages: English, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Farsi, and Hindi, respectively. She trills about the colors in tunes that mix the personalities of Patsy Cline and Carmen Miranda. Recommended for the younger set and anyone who needs to bounce around a-bopping without stopping." Austin Chronicle Best Of 2005 
 
And let's not forget about Luna. Remember her? Her album, Luna Tart Dies, was released in 2007. It gives the listener a chance to hear the best of Ms. Tart's long and colorful career. Though the music is meant to be tortured (thus, she is a 'torch singer'), it also comes with a wink and smile from Laura Freeman herself.  In the YouTube clips of her on stage performance it's clear Laura is having the time of her life and so is the audience.  
 
But, do not commit the theatrical sin of confusing Ms. Tart and Ms. Freeman. In the engaging 2007 release Luna Tart Dies(she died of a broken heart),  Freeman brings a sense of shocking theater performance art to her material. It portrays a woman who is self-possessed, or perhaps a more accurate term would be self-obsessed. And this obsession is most clearly found in her desire for fame. during the course of the album she joins a circus, finds a sugar daddy, spends all of his money, finds her own lovers in the meantime and then moans and moans about her broken heart when he dumps her. The instrumentation on the album includes saloon pianos, trombones, accordions and even a toy piano. The key here with both the album and her live show is, it's not for children yet it is very entertaining and well done. 
 
Laura would like to see performance spaces for Luna Tart broaden from folk clubs because she feels it is developing into a viable piece of theater. She certainly captures the feeling of a character as well as any skilled performer. Indeed, she recently  completed a play with Rudy Ranireza, Luna Tart Dies of a Broken Heart. It won the BEST of the FEST at the Austin Frontera Fest in 2007. 
 
With her her unique style of performance art, Laura Freeman deserves to expand far beyond Austin to the world of theater as well as her current venues. Her work with children's music will continue. This is where she is best known. But, her alter ego may emerge at any time with the need to vamp and tramp on a cabaret stage filled with smoke and despair. Hopefully, this never happens at a children's show. 
 
But, seriously now, Ms. Freeman is a diverse and unique talent who will go far with her originality and willingness to thoroughly absorb herself in her performances be it for adults or children. She is the consummate troubadour being a jester, musical clown of sorts and a genuine artist underneath the facade. And when she says her real persona is the one she becomes in her children shows, you can add, she is a wonderful lady as well. 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
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