Based in Toronto, Canada, Laura Swankey is an eclectic and skilled improvising vocalist known for her versatility, creativity and open mindedness. In 2015 she completed a Bachelor of Jazz Vocal Performance at the University of Toronto and attended the Banff Centre’s Creative Music Workshop thanks to the Ken Page Memorial Trust fund. Prior to her time at U of T, Laura completed two diplomas at Grant MacEwan University in Music Composition (2012), and Jazz and Contemporary Performance – Voice (2011). Growing up, Laura studied classical clarinet and piano through the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Laura has been the recipient of many awards including Canada’s Fred Sherratt Award (2011), the University of Toronto Jazz Arranging Prize (2014), Neil D. Graham Scholarship (2015) and most recently the Sigy Born Memorial Award: Best Emerging Artist at the Sudbury Jazz Festival (2016). In 2013, she was nominated as the University of Toronto’s undergraduate jazz studies candidate for Canada’s prestigious Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for $10,000. As one of the U of T Bartel Competition winners in 2013, she recorded several original compositions at Revolution Studios, one of Toronto’s most prestigious studios.
Laura has shared the stage with artists such as Mike Murley, Ralph Alessi, Mark Feldman, Elio Villafranca, and Poet Laureate Dennis Lee. She studied under Christine Duncan, Jim Lewis, Terry Promane and Allan Gilliland. In the spring of 2013, Laura released her debut, self-titled quartet EP. Promoting this work, she has performed extensively throughout Toronto, Alberta, and BC. Laura was featured on Barnyard Records upcoming project Make with Veryan Weston and Christine Duncan’s Element Choir set to be released in 2017. While in Banff, she formed an international feminist avant-garde improvising ensemble JBDC, with Jessica Ackerley (guitar) and Elisa Thorn (harp). They released their debut self-titled record in Brooklyn, NY in October 2015 and have a second album to be released early 2017 on HAVN Records. Most recently, Laura was featured on Toronto’s Collective Order debut EP, released in August 2016 on Longbow Records.
Laura can frequently be seen around the city sitting in with various jazz and new music ensembles. Full of drive and desire to challenge herself and create, Laura is constantly trying to grow as an artist and musician. She is currently writing for her upcoming album in late 2017, releasing an EP with Toronto band Delusions of Grandeur, and preparing for a European tour in May 2017 with a Norwegian- Canadian ensemble led by guitarist Mike McCormick.