Singer and songwriter Lauren Shera has said, "Somebody once described my music as 'California folk' and I feel that's very accurate." While Shera was born in New York, her music does indeed have a sound and feel that harkens to the Golden State, both in the spare but heartfelt style of the folk era and the soft rock sounds that emanated from Laurel Canyon in the '70s.
Shera was born in 1988, and her family called New York home; her father was a drummer who shared his love of great songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Joni Mitchell, and John Prine. Shera tried to learn the guitar as a youngster, but at first it didn't take because of her small hands. When she was 13, Shera's family relocated to Monterey, California, and around this time she began writing poetry. Shera won several local poetry contests, and she soon gave the guitar a second chance and began writing songs. After making the rounds of coffeehouses and acoustic showcases in Monterey, Shera recorded a few songs as a Father's Day gift for her dad; she later distributed the EP locally, and to her surprise it brought her to the attention of San Francisco's PBS station KQED-TV, who aired a profile on the up-and-coming artist. A&R executives at major record labels began pursuing Shera, but she opted to make music as an independent artist, and in 2006 she self-released her debut album, In My Bones. Response to the album was enthusiastic, and Shera was invited to perform in New York City as part of a Bob Dylan tribute event that also featured Rosanne Cash, Patti Smith, and Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Shera next relocated to Chicago, where she studied at the Old Town School of Folk Music. The experience charged Shera's creative batteries and encouraged her to commit to making music her career, and in 2010, after returning to California, Shera dropped her second album, Once I Was a Bird, which featured guest appearances by Abigail Washburn and Kristin Hersh. The album earned Shera more positive press, and she began touring extensively, sharing stages with major artists such as Shawn Colvin, Nanci Griffith, Billy Bragg, and Ray LaMontagne; Shera also gained a high-profile fan in Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, who said of Lauren, "Her voice is going to define the next generation of folk music." After issuing a digital single through DigSin in 2014, "Hell's Bells" b/w "Sweetgrass," Shera released her much-anticipated third album, Gold and Rust, in 2015, not long after she moved from California to Nashville, Tennessee. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi