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Laura Jansen: a Dutch star rises on the American horizon

March 17, 2010

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I heard her cover of Use Somebody, originally sung by Nashville based rock band Kings of Leon, numerous times on the radio before finding out her name is Laura Jansen and she is Dutch. Well, half Dutch with an American mother and a father from the Netherlands – hence her name Jansen, which is the most common Dutch last name. On March 18th, Laura Jansen plays the first of three concerts in SXSW in Austin, Texas, before touring Europe in April and May.

Jansen’s style can best be described as piano driven – she accompanies herself on the piano – alternative, indie pop. Her clear and mature voice reveals classical training without being overly stylized and her self-written songs are easy to the ear without being simplistic. She reminds me of a a slightly less dramatic version of Tori Amos.

Jansen, 32, was raised in the Netherlands where she was trained at the Rotterdam Conservatory. Nine years ago she moved to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music before heading south to Nashville. After an unsuccessful attempt to write and sing country – “I am not a cowgirl”-, Jansen eventually found her musical home In Los Angeles. She established herself as a regular at the Hotel Cafe, a small music venue in Hollywood that helped launch the careers of artists like John Mayor and Joshua Radin, to name a few. With Radin, Jansen sang a duet in Ellen De Generes‘ living room, at her wedding to Portia de Rossi in 2008.

Jansen’s songs were featured in MTV’s reality TV shows Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County and The real world: Cancun as well as in a Dove commercial. Laura Jansen is a true artist of her generation and spends almost 8 hours online every day updating her profile and staying in touch with fans through social media tools such as Facebook, Hyves – the Dutch equivalent of Facebook –, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube.

In the Netherlands we only got to know Laura Jansen after she was discovered by Dutch/British songwriter and producer John Ewbank, who helped her land a record deal with Universal. Her first album Bells – number 3 of most downloaded albums from iTunes Holland – was released last fall and came in at number 16 in the Dutch Album Top 100 Chart. I have a feeling we will be hearing more from this rising Dutch star; both in the US and the Netherlands.

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