Songs from the heart from Laura 

Who: Laura Nedelak

Where: Hoz’s Pub

When: Thursday, May 29

Have you ever seen the movie Sliding Doors where Gwyneth Paltrow misses the train to work one day and her whole life changes because of it? The movie also shows you the other life she would have led if she had actually made that same train. Two completely different outcomes await young Gwyneth and we all take a message from it that even the little decisions in life can lead to a whole new path – good or bad.

For local singer-songwriter Laura Nedelak deciding one day to pop over to Gabriola Island (a renowned artists’ haven), would soon change her own life in more ways than one.

Almost 18 months after that initial visit, Nedelak has released a new album produced by Shania Twain’s early years vocal coach and a member of Willy Nelson’s touring band, Lou Gradanti. She also has found a whole new romance from hanging out at Gabriola’s local pub, the White Hart. There she ran into a guy she went to high school with more than 20 years earlier.

"It’s so funny, I went over to do a few gigs casually at pubs in the region and next thing you know I’m talking to people about a famous producer and seriously considering contacting him and then also meeting a man who’s now been my partner for over a year. It’s been an amazing journey for me," said Nedelak.

However, her happy outcome did not happen without sacrifice and commitment. Nedelak packed herself and her son off to Saltspring Island for several months to be close to her new mentor. From Saltspring it was a two hour commute each way on the ferry to Gradanti’s Gabriola Island studio, a trip done at least one day a week. But the long ride was worth it, said Nedelak.

"Lou has a wealth of knowledge and is a super easy person to learn from. He’s very unassuming, patient and kind, if a bit of a perfectionist. You just don’t run across people like that in the industry every day so I had to make the most of it."

Which she did. Putting herself through gruelling lessons from the "Pitch Police," her nickname for Gradanti, who has pushed her standards to a whole new level.

"I used to sing through my head rather than through my diaphragm, which is much more expressive. My awareness is so acute now. Lou was incredible."

The finished product is the 10-track album, White Heart , named after the Gabriola Island pub (although spelled differently) where all the changes originated. Each song is very heartfelt, rich in words and vocal range featuring an array of instruments, from percussion to accordion. One song that is particularly moving is Women Of War, a tribute Nedelak penned after being moved to tears by a documentary on the Taliban government’s treatment of Afghani women.

"I wrote that song in four hours and cried the whole way through," she said, still choking back tears. A portion of the proceeds from each CD’s sale will go to the Afghanistan Women’s Council, a non-profit group aiding social and educational conditions for women in Afghanistan.

Nedelak will be performing songs from White Heart at Hoz’s pub next Thursday night, for a gymnastics fundraiser. She’ll also be performing at the Whistler Tennis Club’s Open Day on May 31. Her CD is $15 from the clubhouse, Bestsellers, Blenz coffee shop, Rogers Chocolates, Whistler’s Other Video at Nesters and Gone Bakery.

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