by Rita Charleston
Growing up in West Chester, PA., Laura Promiscuo (formally Laura Mills) had lots of dreams. “I wanted to be a Disney artist and draw lots of characters. I wanted to be a TV news anchor. When I saw the TV show ‘Twister,’ I wanted to chase tornadoes. I wanted to open my own yoga retreat center. My ambitions changed every day, but I never once thought seriously about becoming a singer.”
Ironically, however, that’s exactly what she did become, thanks to a fine voice, lots of great teachers and a mother who saw her potential and agreed to give her private voice lessons.
”I always loved singing,” said Promiscuo, who requested that her age not be mentioned, “but never took it seriously. In high school I was an athlete, and one day at a game I heard someone sing The National Anthem. I thought I could do that, too.”
So Promiscuo got those coveted voice lessons, and thus began a new career path for the girl of many dreams. At the age of 16, her serious vocal training included lessons in opera, musical theater, jazz and world music. Continuing her musical education, she went on to Penn State, where she was an award-winning soloist, touring with two a cappella groups, performing in six full-length operas and musicals and earning a degree in Integrative Arts.
Although Laura now resides in Manayunk, she spends lots of time in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill “because I love the shops and the restaurants. I sometimes get up and sing with whoever is performing at The Goat Hollow and other places in the area. I enjoy meeting artists at The High Point Cafe and spend lots of time in Fairmount Park.” (In fact, we learned about Laura from a business card she left on the bulletin board at the Trolley Car Diner in Mt. Airy.)
She studied under world-renowned singers and Broadway performers, including double-Grammy winner Dr. Christopher Kiver, internationally known tenor Richard Kennedy and Arlene Shrut, head vocal coach at the legendary Juilliard School of Music.
After graduating from Penn State in 2010, she spent some time in Washington, D.C., singing on the east coast with pop cover bands, writing music and fronting a rock band called Soul Kitchen Collective, an eclectic mix of jazz, blues and R&B. Her voice is featured on several studio albums and a self-produced album of holiday songs in 2011 titled “A Vintage Christmas.”
“But there’s only so much you can push when you suddenly realize you’re the only person pushing,” Promiscuo explained, “so eventually I made the decision to become a solo artist.”
In the last six months she finished filming the music video for radio single “Closer To You” with producer Simon Rogers, who lives in Manayunk, which influenced her decision last January to move to northwest Philly.
She’s also recording her full-length debut solo album, “Chasing Down The Dream,” with Studio 111 and producer Brian Fitzy, who has toured internationally with major bands such as the Foo Fighters and the Roots. Laura, who writes her own songs, has performed at The World Cafe Live, Bryce Jordan Center, Wilma Theater and the Grape Room.
By the way, what is the origin of Laura’s unusual last name? “Promiscuo is my mother’s maiden name. My grandfather, Joseph Promiscuo, was from Italy and loved to sing opera and encouraged me to be a singer my whole life. I thought it best that I took his name as my stage name because I always think of him when I am singing.”
In addition to making music, Promiscuo also teaches it to others at the Music Training Center in Conshohocken. “I teach mainly high school students and some adults, and prefer to concentrate on teaching classical music. That’s my training, and I believe there is no way I could be who I am today as a pop artist without that training.”
But even with the right training, she acknowledged that this is a very difficult business to be in, “so you have to be fully committed to making it work, regardless of all the good or the bad that happens. And above all, you have to believe in yourself. If you believe you’re a pop star, others will too. There’s an air about me because I want this so badly, and people are starting to notice me. I think all I want is now in the works.”
For more information, visit www.laurapromiscuo.com. By Googling or putting her name into YouTube, you can see Laura sing three of her own compositions — “Stranger,” live at the Wilma Theater; “Sweet Lovin’ Boy,” accompanying herself on the piano, and a beautiful ballad, “Closer to You,” where her voice soars and hits all the notes with pristine clarity. All three songs will be on her debut album.
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