I'm deeply saddened to learn today of the loss of an amazing soul, a talented artist & dear friend — Laurel Wiley. After a lifetime of critical health issues, this vibrant and beautiful (inside & out) lady is now at peace.
In my life as a musician, it was a great joy and privilege to collaborate with Laurel on her music as harpist & back-up singer. From countless jams and live performances, to recording sessions and video shoots, working with Laurel was always a complete joy! Her crazy spirit and giant heart always kept you going! And what a ride! Years ago, in getting my career on track after some medical issues of my own, I'd wanted to take the harp in a completely different direction than the standard classical forums or gigging outlets. A mutual friend with a strong intuitive sense (who also passed at a young age) introduced us, and Laurel loved the idea of weaving the color of the harp into her music. It was a perfect fit. It was the mid-'90s and women's voices were becoming more prominent in popular music. An acoustic sound began to command the airwaves and the timing was right. Laurel's music was etherial but edgy, and she had the 'look.' With her flowing red mane, she was instantly identifiable — she even modeled briefly for the artists of Disney Studios for a red-headed mermaid character named Ariel (marking a charmed foreshadow to my future animated endeavors).
It was always fascinating when Laurel and I would sit down with a new song she'd been working on. Her battle with cancer was a constant time-clock and she was always keenly aware of just how precious our time here on earth is. She wove her unique insights into her lyrics and her melodies were inspired and otherworldly, or as Laurel would say — "it was 'vibe-y'!" Other wonderful musicians came into the mix and the 'Laurel Wiley sound' grew. Like a siren's song, other artists and musical legends heard her music and were drawn to its mystery. Laurel had a vision, but she was always so collaborative and open to new ideas and sounds. I'll never forget a late night rehearsal where someone suggested trying a reggae feel to the straight-ahead number we'd just spent all night rehearsing and with her usual spritely joy, Laurel loved the idea! It worked brilliantly — some great creative 'plus'-ing — and that's how we permanently performed it to many LA audiences — at least while Laurel was in strong health. It was a vibe-y sound, a creative joy and definitely a wild ride!
Since that time, life took us in different directions, but I've always treasured our friendship and the creative experiences we shared. Thankfully, Facebook provided a way to reconnect — offering a valued way to reach out with Laurel's health journey over the years — and today, sadly, FB revealed this heavy news. I am numbed that this horrible disease took your beautiful spirit from us, Laurel. It was an honor to add color to your vision and I am so grateful your music remains. Thanks for your 'vibe-i-ness'!
Godspeed, to our red-headed angel!
"There Goes My Heart" - by Laurel Wiley / Produced by Nancy Wilson
"Sacrifice" - by Laurel Wiley / Produced by Nancy Wilson
"I Love You" - by Laurel Wiley
"So remember and please try
for when the end comes and we all die
the only thing that really ever matters is that we say it everyday...
I love you..."