Smile Politely

A sample of Lauren Turk

Lauren Turk loves Paris and I love Lauren Turk. She has a keen self perception and a love of everyday delights. If you like to ponder the universe, you might like what Turk has to say.

Smile Politely: How did you get started in music?

Lauren Turk: I got started in middle school, when I tried out for Oliver Twist, with a tiny part as a peddler boy selling seafood (remarkably they turned me into a boy by hiding all of my hair under a hat). I started the scene with a solo (describing my mosaic of seafood for sale), and supposedly this made an impression. In the next play I got the lead, which led to classical vocal training, music competitions, choir, and singing national anthems across Chicagoland. I had started violin prior to singing, playing a total of 12 years to date, and piano as well. Music has always been something I loved, but ironically, singing, my main focus, was the thing I was most reluctant to start.

SP: Who or what inspires you in life and/or creative pursuits?

Turk: Creatively I’m very inspired by movement and the beauty found in the everyday. This could be the nostalgic look in an old man’s eye as he watches a young couple interact in the Parisian metro, the beauty of a dancing woman’s shifting shape, the sound of wind swaying a tree’s leaves, or simply looking out the window of a train (especially in the French or Austrian countryside). I am always inspired when I’m biking, running, or even walking somewhere. Something about moving turns on my right brain and heightens my perception.

In life in general, I’m inspired by love and people. Love because it’s all there is really, in my opinion, when we dissect and break down our motivations and actions…we all come from and seek love. People who have drive and empathy inspire me and I find that these qualities are both palpable and contagious. When I’m around someone like this I start to feel it too, and it motivates me to continue journeying towards the best version of myself…

The New History; Lauren Turk and Harley Cross, photo by Cooper Bates

SP: What are some of your favorite places to visit or play?

Turk: Paris: I studied/lived there for two years, and have a lot of dear friends there. My recent shows there with my band, The New History, were incredible. People were attentive, enthusiastic, and always wanted more. Plus, Paris is such a majestic city, I follow any excuse I can to go back again and again. Berlin: the beat and vibe of the city is one of self expression and experimentation…with undertones of the city’s history, gentrification and cultural adaption. It makes for a really exciting place to be, and super open crowds for concerts. Austria and Turkey: I have friends that are family here, and both are home to amazing cultures, landscapes and vibrant major cities. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: I sang in La Calaca, the Dia de los Muertos festival, and had one of the best experiences of my life singing for approximately the entire city, who sang with me on certain cultural favorites (Chavela Vargas). Not to mention, this is one of the most charming cities I’ve ever visited. In the USA I’ve had a great time performing in NYC, LA, Urbana-Champaign and am excited to do my first concert at the Tonic Room in Chicago in May ’06.

SP: Any unusual stories from the road?

Turk: One of my favorite stories was when we (The New History) took a night train from Berlin to Paris last month, and shared a compartment with a random French guy named Emmanuel, who also makes music. We sang a song for him, and by the end of it there was a crowd of people outside the compartment watching, wanting to listen too. We ended up doing a concert for them in the train. It was super intimate, spontaneous and fun.. something we’ll never forget! Better yet, some of the people on the train came to our first show in Paris, two days later. It was super heartwarming. During our euro tour this past April, I also had a series of crazy encounters with people from my past -literally running into three people from my past on accident, without any communication from any of us. It has left me baffled and wondering what the universe is telling me.


If you like what you see so far, be sure to check out The New History at Krannert Uncorked tonight at The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. There’s free wine and snacks. Turk will be playing solo and with Harley Cross as The New History from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. She’ll also be performing at Cafeteria & Company on Friday, May 2nd with Rebecca Rego & The Trainmen and IO Mining Corp for the AGORA Festival.

Top photo by Cooper Bates.

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