Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen In the News
By Jeri Rowe
Laurelyn Dossett spots them in her backyard near the purple hydrangeas.
It’s a weekday morning. Laurelyn would love more sleep. She’s curled up in a big chair, her bare feet tucked beneath her, when she looks outside her music-room window, past her guitar, banjo, and upright bass, and just sighs.
She’d like nothing better than to get dirty and pull them. But she can’t. She’s too busy.
She’s fronted a roots music band and won songwriting awards. She’s gotten a tune she wrote on a Grammy-winning album, tackled a song cycle of classical music, and just finished her fourth play at Greensboro’s Triad Stage.
Last year, she joined the symphony on a six-city swing through the Carolinas. She sang “Remember My Name,” her tune from Triad Stage’s Bloody Blackbeard, as part of a tour featuring music from the Carolina coast.
But this time, she’s the show, no supporting cast. She’ll write a series of tunes, and it’ll all be scored for an orchestra and performed next year a week after Thanksgiving in Raleigh.
And she’ll sing in that voice, that crystalline, heart-tug of a voice that still makes people weep.
Dossett will turn 50 in February. But she’s just getting started.
Fifteen years ago, she was a stay-at-home mother in Pleasant Garden. She’d sit barefooted on her front porch, her guitar across her lap, and she’d sing tunes from Gillian Welch as she’d wait for her girls to step off the school bus.
And, after putting her career on hold to raise three daughters, look where she is now.
Born in her
Dossett writes about our South and our dance with religion and nature, love and loss. It’s something we all recognize.
She knows that kind of terrain well. She was born in Alabama and ended up in Pennsylvania, the oldest of four, the only daughter of a pediatrician dad and a stay-at-home mom.
Her parents helped start an evangelical church in their living room, and Dossett eavesdropped at the top of the stairs and heard people talk in tongues. Along the way, her Bible became part of her vocabulary, and her church pew became the spot where she always sang the loudest.
Today, Dossett keeps religion at arm’s length. In her songs, she’s more likely to ask questions and write about emotions that’ll give you a lump in your throat. It’s all culled from her own research as well as her own experiences of singing for friends and family edging toward death’s door.
As Dossett likes to say, it’s just three chords and the truth.
Dossett’s voice quickens, more question marks come, and she starts firing off her favorite phrase, “You know what I mean?” When that happens, you know one thing: She’s just getting started.
“It’s not that different from a painter or a novelist because you’re trying to make people feel something or be more connected with themselves or each other. So, you find stories or metaphors that’ll do that.
The goal is not to make someone gratuitously cry, but we move at such a fast pace. You know what I mean? It’s loss and love, birth and death. All those things are huge. And you find ways to write about those things.
Those things are real, but it’s not for everybody, and everybody doesn’t like this stuff. There are great pop songs, but let someone else write them.”
Dossett stops, looks out her back window in Greensboro’s Westerwood neighborhood, and her mind races back to the present, back to something she thought about a few minutes before.
“Look at those weeds I’ve got to pull.”