Retro Jazz Singer Laura Ainsworth Finds New Success With Old Songs

Retro jazz vocalist Laura Ainsworth’s award-winning album of fan requests, “You Asked For It”

Retro jazz vocalist Laura Ainsworth, photo by Alan Mercer

Retro jazz vocalist Laura Ainsworth, photo by Alan Mercer

On "You Asked For It," Laura Ainsworth let her fans pick the songs she sang

On “You Asked For It,” Laura Ainsworth let her fans pick the songs she sang

Singer who avoided familiar standards for years yields to fan requests and finds surprising success with fresh takes on classics.

Sometimes, going against your instincts and trying something completely different works out surprisingly well.”

— Laura Ainsworth

DALLAS, TEXAS, USA, October 17, 2023 / — In what she says is a good lesson for us all, award-winning retro jazz vocalist Laura Ainsworth tried something she’d always avoided – and scored her biggest success so far.

As the daughter of late big band sax master Billy Ainsworth, Laura grew up with some of the most famous songs of the 20th century, yet she made her name by unearthing long-forgotten tunes worthy of the Great American Songbook. But for her fourth album, she asked fans what they wanted her to sing. She said, “Their requests were all old familiar songs I’d always thought nobody needed another recording of. But it turned out people wanted to hear me do them. The challenge then became how to create fresh, distinctive versions of such well-known songs.”

The result was her most honored album yet, wryly titled, “You Asked For It.” It’s scored rave reviews, a Global Music Awards Silver Medal, Best Jazz Album wins from the Clouzine International Music Awards and the Akademia Music Awards, and spots on several jazz radio and podcast “Best of the Year” lists. She’ll soon travel to Nashville, where she’s nominated for both Artist and Vocalist of the Year (Jazz/Blues) at the Josie Music Awards, a major indie music organization.

She laughs, “Not bad for a project I put off doing for years! Sometimes, going against your instincts and trying something completely different works out surprisingly well. I thought there was no way to improve on the versions of these songs by artists like Julie London and Ella Fitzgerald, so that’s the point? But then I heard my most-requested song of all – ‘Cry Me A River’ – done by Crystal Gayle, and I loved it. I realized it didn’t have to be radically different. What made it unique was simply that it was her voice.”

And so, Ms. Ainsworth set about making these classic songs her own. She restored long-lost opening verses, worked up fresh arrangements with her pianist/producer Brian Piper, gathered her loyal crew of top North Texas jazz musicians to record together in the studio (she wanted to create a live party feel to celebrate the pandemic quarantines being over), and added her rich, evocative vocals – as always, recorded the old-fashioned way, with no Autotune or other studio gimmicks.

The results run the spectrum from a mambo-flavored “Isn’t It Romantic” to a sultry “Goldfinger” that reinvents the bombastic James Bond theme into a torch song with the singer warning other women away from her toxic ex (a film noir-inspired video also scored multiple awards), to the stunning album closer, “Over The Rainbow.” She stripped the often oversung classic back to its original raw emotion, with the restored opening verse sung a capella. In fact, her entire vocal was cut live in a single take with no accompaniment, with Piper adding just a little piano after the fact. It inspired one jazz critic to write, “The classic songstress properly delivers a message of hope and dreams to all those that will hear.”

Ms. Ainsworth joked, “I promise, from now on, I’ll be more open-minded when people request famous songs. Just don’t expect any Ozzy Osbourne covers anytime soon!”

Pat Reeder
Eclectus Records
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Laura Ainsworth’s sultry reinvention of the 007 theme, “Goldfinger”

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