by Kenny Kerner

Who says you can't do it all yourself and be successful? Where is it written that an artist must work within the framework of the music industry to get his or her music heard? Redondo Beach artist Laurie Z. is the epitome of determination, perseverance and independent thought.

Soon after she turned four years old, her parents began giving young Laurie piano lessons. And though she fell in love with playing, like most youngsters, she really hated the actual lessons. At five, she performed to hundreds in the audience at an assembly and never looked back.

"My parents were extremely opposed to me making music as my career," Laurie revealed in a recent interview, "and my father still is. They insisted that it was a wonderful avocation but not a lucrative career. I guess they didn't want me to struggle."

Like most musicians, Laurie worked hard at her craft, but she had a secret weapon at her disposal that not many others possess. "When I was about seven or eight years old, I was told that I had perfect pitch. At that age, it had absolutely no meaning to me, but as an adult, of course, it helps me hear stuff easily and quickly. As a working musician it's been a helpful tool--particularly for melodies and harmonies."

Name: Laurie Z.
Age: Declined
Residence: Redondo Beach,
Occupation: Composer &
Indie Record
Label Owner
Joined TAXI: December, 1995
Songs Forwarded:  Six
Deals Made: None
As an instrumentalist, Laurie's perfect pitch helped her craft some beautifully melodic original songs, but it was her experience performing live at Disneyland that gave the artist a finer appreciation for the art of songwriting: "For about five years, I played at Disneyland every day. And when you have to perform the latest tunes in front of a live audience, and you have to perform them accurately, you really learn a lot about songwriting. You begin to think that they're just a bunch of regular pop songs, but there's an incredible art to it. Because I'm an instrumentalist, I learned earlier on that the melody has to carry the song. So the melody has to be really strong; something the listener can take home. I honed my craft by studying songs of the Beatles, Elton John, Billy Joel and Paul Simon."

Unlike most male keyboardists who could have looked to Elton John, Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, Billy Joel or a host of other superstars, Laurie had only Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie as a female role model. "I feel very comfortable around men", she said, "so I just aspired to be one of them."

Laurie's big break came after college while working a job selling musical equipment. Here's how she tells the story: "With regard to going through the record company process of getting signed, I just put my foot in the water deep enough to get gun shy. Too many of my friends were badly burned by deals they made. So when one of the people I met at my job decided to let me record an album for him, that's how my first record came out. I didn't think it would sell anything at all, but as it trickled out there, I discovered that there really was a market for my music."

Market, indeed! Laurie's three independently released CDs have sold nearly 20,000 units. Her mailing list has surpassed the 5,000 mark and her latest effort is fast approaching the Top 20 on many of the instrumental music charts. And lest we forget, she is also a solid Number One in many of those markets. The logical question now is, why would a successful recording artist want to join TAXI when she already has a market for her music and is selling CDs? Laurie explains how she came to be involved with the independent A&R company.

"I heard about TAXI the same way lots of other people did--I saw the ads. And you know what they say about advertising--repetition is the key. Initially, my thought was that if they asked for money, it couldn't be good. I checked out their web site, looked into their chat area although I never participated, but found that there were a lot of people I could relate to. I thought about joining but was hesitant about plunking down that amount of money. However, I have always operated on the 'Seed' theory--you plant as many seeds as you can. You send out as many packages as you can to places that have an interest in hearing them. Assuming the product is decent, all you need is for the right set of ears to listen to it.

"After speaking with and meeting with both Michael and Doug, it made all the difference in the world. I felt that they were credible men with integrity who had strong backgrounds in the industry. It wasn't about hype with them. They were really coming from the right place in wanting to help people like myself. I have always trusted my instincts and my initial instincts about Michael and Doug and TAXI were that this was a good thing."

Although Laurie is an avid TAXI supporter, she hasn't really sent in much material and never asks for a single critique, either. "I haven't sent in material diligently," she explains, "because to me, this is just another seed. When I do see a listing that applies, I send in songs. I have never asked for a single critique because I'm sending in finished product and don't go backwards. I'm not intending to go back and re-record or remix anything. I would welcome the critiques if I were in the formulating stages of making an album."

So for an already successful indie artist, TAXI is serving as another pair of ears--another someone to listen. Laurie sums it all up with these words: "My goal in joining TAXI was to get the ears to listen to my stuff and hopefully to license some of my music. They can help with that. When my membership expires, I will definitely renew. I want to keep the relationship with TAXI alive because they're a valuable resource."


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"Your dedication and hard work never ceases to amaze me."
— Jimmy Clark,
TAXI Member

"With help from you guys, the music is pouring out and I'm having such fun! Thanks!"
— Willie McCulloch,
TAXI Member

"I received a giant BMI check from TV airplay that I probably wouldn't have earned without TAXI."
— Julie Ann Bailey,
TAXI Member

"In this competitive field you need all the help you can get and with TAXI, you've got a friend in the music business."
— Richard Scotti,
TAXI Member