Layla Zoe

layla-zoeLayla Zoe’s years on the blues scene have been insanely successful and are loaded with the promise of even greater success. Comparisons to legendary voices (Janis Joplin is the most often cited name) are not uncommon as she builds the kind of reputation that strong careers are made of. And hers only promises to get stronger and stronger as the years slip by.

From Canada to success

Most remarkable about her life is that she was born in an unlikely environment to produce a wild woman blues shouter (Vancouver island of Canada’s British Columbia) and has since relocated to another unusual setting for a blues performer, Germany.

An Early Start

Like many of today’s younger blues talents, Layla’s love of the genre began with her parents. She recalls singing with her guitar-strumming dad as early as the age of four. By the time she reached fourteen, Layla was actually singing with his band. From there it didn’t take long for the accolades, awards and feverish fan excitement to come pouring in.

In 2006, she was given the female vocalist of the year award at the Vancouver Island Music Awards as well as the Compo 10 International Blues Songwriting Competition in Jaarvenpaa, A year later she released her first effort, Hoochie Coochie Woman. In the years that followed, she’s released Live at Errington Hall and The Firegirl.

Feeling the Blues, Writing the Blues

layla-zoeWhile her ability to cover classic blues/rock standards has dazzled fans and critics alike, she’s also established herself as a remarkably able songwriter, a skill that come effortlessly for the young Layla in a surprising form – poetry.

Turning her poems into songs was an early preoccupation for her and one she never fully abandoned.

Today many of Layla’s songs found life as poems. The sensitivity needed to understand the ingredients of a great song seems to be something Layla picked up early in life.

And it’s something that’s alive in her today, evidenced by this quote: “For me the Blues is about expressing pain, but with a feeling of hope at the end. Blues music is bringing out emotions. It is very rough and honest. The best Blues brings out feelings that people need to get in touch with.”

Not only is Layla still bringing out these feelings in her music, but she’s doing the same in her poetry. In 2010 she released a book of poetry. Her latest album, Her latest album, once again puts her poetic prowess to the test. It features eleven original songs, co-composed by her and her guitarist Jan Laacks. While Laacks took on the musical duties, Layla – not surprisingly – handled the lyrics with her usual poetic flair.

Wild Woman of the Blues Unite!

Recommended Album
Breaking Free is an album whose title says it all. If the music’s lyrical and musical themes can be summed up in a single word, that word would be: Liberation. Even when Layla isn’t explicitly singing out about freedom, the song nonetheless expresses the idea of bursting through wall that constrain. In other words, Breaking Free is all about breaking free.
The influences are numerous. Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin come immediately to mind, not to mention Janis Joplin. But Layla and her band are no mere collection of skilled copycats. They have a voice of their own. And it is refreshingly raw and honest.

Breaking Free

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Having recently released her tenth album (Breaking Free on Ruf Records) Layla is well on her way to achieving her every goal as a blues singer and songwriter. And best of all, the success has afforded her the opportunities to participate in side projects that seem to be a dream come true for her and lucky fans who get an earful. Of course, part of the reason for Layla’s taking part in the project was that it gave her a chance to promote a female-centered project, something she insists the blues scene needs more of. Sponsored by Ruf Records, the trio has toured much of Europe.

Summing up her career, she says, “Music is my life. I can’t imagine my life without music.” Anyone familiar with Layla’s honey-coated voice can easily understand her singular focus. It is hard to imagine anyone with that voice using it for anything other than singing the blues.