Laura Smith (March 18, 1952 – March 7, 2020) was a Canadian folk singer-songwriter. She is best known for her 1995 single "Shade of Your Love", one of the year's biggest hits on adult contemporary radio stations in Canada, and for her adaptation of the Scottish folk song "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean" which she entitled "My Bonny". She recorded a version of this with The Chieftains, which they erroneously listed as "My Bonnie" on their album Fire in the Kitchen. In December 2010, that version received a nod for Song of the Decade from Bill Margeson at LiveIreland.
|Born||March 18, 1952|
London, Ontario, Canada
|Died||March 7, 2020 (aged 67)|
Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada
|Genres||Folk, adult contemporary|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, bohdran, piano|
|Associated acts||Terry Kelly|
Born and raised in London, Ontario, Smith was encouraged in her early writing by the noted poet Margaret Avison, then writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario. She began playing music as well, making her debut in area coffeehouses. She moved to Toronto in 1975 for nine years and in 1984 she moved to Cape Breton.
Smith released her debut album, Elemental, under the auspices of CBC Variety Recordings in 1989. It was recorded at CBC Halifax. Alas, unbeknownst to Smith or CBC, at about the same time, Loreena McKennitt released an album with the same title, so Smith's debut release was changed to Laura Smith when she leased back the masters from CBC. Her second album, B'tween the Earth and My Soul (1994) brought her national acclaim and earned her two East Coast Music Awards (Female Artist, Album of the Year) and two Juno nominations for Best New Solo Artist and Best Roots and Traditional Album. The next year, 1997, she was awarded a Gemini Award for Best Performance in a Performing Arts Program or Series.
In 2003, Smith was given a DHumL from Mount Saint Vincent University for her songwriting.
She continued to work through the 2000s, including two seasons on stage in Prince Edward Island in the role of Marilla in the musical Anne & Gilbert at the Victoria Playhouse in Victoria-by-the-Sea and the Jubilee Theatre in Summerside respectively. However, through the decade she suffered three debilitating accidents which resulted in chronic pain. This led to the use of increasingly stronger prescription drugs which eventually led to dependence. She attempted to obtain a Music Therapy degree from Acadia University, but gave up her studies to concentrate on healing. She disappeared from the music scene for a time, but by 2010 she was performing again, having overcome her dependency through the adoption of non-narcotic pain treatment therapies. Her story was featured in a radio documentary by Ann Silversides which aired on CBC Radio One's morning program The Current on February 3, 2010. In 2010 and 2011 she performed several shows across Canada, touring with Ryan MacGrath.
In 2012 Cathie Ryan recorded a version of Smith's "I'm a Beauty" on her album Through Wind and Rain.
Poet Phil Hall celebrated Laura Smith's singing in his poem "Tremulous" (Niagara & Government, 2020, Pedlar Press). She asked him to read it her house concert audience in Fredericton in early 2019.
|1994||B'tween the Earth and My Soul||86|
|1997||It's a Personal Thing||—|
|1998||Vanity Pressed: A Collection||—|
|2013||Everything Is Moving||—|
|1995||"Shade of Your Love"||6||42||B'tween the Earth and My Soul|
|1997||"It's a Personal Thing"||17||—||It's a Personal Thing|
|"For Better or for Worse"||54||—|
|CAN AC||CAN Country|
|1996||"Don't Take Me Home"||Terry Kelly||51||38||Far Cry from Leaving|
- Biography: "Laura who?" Archived October 30, 2001, at the Wayback Machine
- "Folk artist Smith performing in Bible Hill". Truro Daily News, February 1, 2011.
- The Blues and I: The Story of Laura Smith (audio).
- Regenstreif, Mike. "Laura Smith – Everything is Moving". Folk Roots/Folk Branches (blog). Retrieved April 28, 2013.
- "Renowned Nova Scotia singer-songwriter Laura Smith dies after battle with cancer". Chronicle Herald, March 8, 2020.