It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was hanging out in my basement at my mom’s sewing table, playing Laura Branigan records and pretending I was a disc jockey. When I heard of Laura’s passing, I felt as if I’d lost a family member, tears built up in my eyes and I wanted to hear Gloria just one more time on that old record.
Laura Branigan, singer and actress, was born on July 3, 1957 in the upstate New York town of Brewster and raised in nearby Armonk, New York. It wasn’t until her senior year in high school, where she performed the lead role in a school musical, that she began to consider an entertainment career. After graduation from high school, Laura moved to Manhattan and attended The Academy of Dramatic Arts.
In the late 70’s, she toured Europe as a backing vocalist for Leonard Cohen. Upon Laura’s return to New York, it became clear to her that she wanted to pursue a career as a solo artist. Laura’s powerful talent as well as her drive and determination led to her being signed by Atlantic Records.
Laura’s first major appearance on the pop scene was with the anthem “Gloria” in 1982, which has become the signature song of her career. The track came from Laura’s debut album, Branigan. “Gloria” was an enormous hit single, rising to the top of the Billboard charts and staying on the charts for an amazing thirty-six weeks. Laura received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocalist Female for the song.
In 1983, Laura released Branigan 2 and had two more top ten hits with Solitaire and How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, confirming her status as a major artist. Laura could also be heard on the Flashdance soundtrack with Imagination. Her musical involvement with the film led her to receive her second Grammy nomination. In 1984, the album Self Control was released with the title track, “Self Control” reaching the top ten.
Another single from the album, “The Lucky One” went top 40. Laura also won the coveted Grand Prize at the 13th Tokyo Music Festival for her riveting performance of The Lucky One. Laura’s album Hold Me was released in 1985 and included the top 40 hit Spanish Eddie. In 1987 Touch was released with the ballad, The Power of Love, returning Laura to the top 40. Throughout the 80?s, Laura?s songs also appeared on the Ghostbusters, Body Rock, Coming To America, and Salsa soundtracks.
During the 90’s, Laura released Laura Branigan in 1990 and Over My Heart in 1993. In 1995, a US greatest hits collection called The Best of Branigan was released. There have been several international greatest hits compilations released also, the most recent being the South African Back In Control in 1999. Laura has performed for audiences in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa, touring the world several times.
Laura’s acting credits have included television’s “CHiPs”, among others, and the films Mugsy’s Girls and Backstage. During the late 90’s, Laura took a hiatus from performing, doing only the occasional concert. In early 2001 she made her return to the studio. 2002 saw the release of “The Essentials”, a digitally remastered hits compilation. During 2002, Laura also performed the role of the singing Janis Joplin in the hit New York City musical “Love, Janis.” 2004 has seen the release of “Self Control 2004” and “Gloria 2004”, collections of remixes of the original Branigan classics produced by some of Europe’s top remixers, which feature stunning, newly-recorded vocals by Laura.
Laura was currently at work performing concerts at various venues, as well as continuing to record her album of new material, and it was with great expectation and anticipation that fans everywhere were awaiting its release. Laura was back touching audiences once again with the unique five-octave range voice, consuming passion, and undeniable power that was pure Branigan! Sadly, Laura passed away suddenly on August 26, 2004 from a brain aneurysm. Laura Branigan lives on through her music and through the wonderful memories of her beloved family, friends, and fans worldwide.