• Whitney Pea

Laurel Minnes & Minuscule

Yellowbelly, Ruby, Pinuke.

These are the names of Laurel’s ukuleles. They are small, adorable instruments that sound like the sunshine but don’t be fooled, they are mightier than you think.

And the same goes for their keeper.

Laurel is a talented singer-songwriter with a unique voice that is both charming and agile. You won’t forget it.

Her approach to music is filled with curiosity and openness, always challenging herself and those around her to grow.

The result is a person who is literally made of the very thing she loves. But she is also a realist who has chosen music as a means to survive and with that comes the universal hardships of life.

What is the hardest thing about being an artist?

“Selling yourself. Seeing your art as a business. Having to act creatively and honestly and vulnerably in your music but also be savvy and understand your market (...) What you offer as a creator is really hard to quantify and put dollar amounts to, so it is easy to undervalue it.”

Laurel wears many hats as a musician. You might find her at a craft brewery singing laid-back classics with the duo Laurel & Hulley or at a wedding, softly serenading a bride down the isle or even onstage in a rock venue with the band Majora; her electric ukulele tinged with distortion.

But let me add one more. One ALL of her own making. One where she calls the shots entirely and follows her creative quest without falter.

Enter Minuscule; a 15+ choir of woman varying in age and background, singing all original compositions by none other than Laurel Minnes. Hence the name Minuscule; a word she often uses to help someone pronounce her last name. “It’s Minnes like MINuscule.”

Well, the irony of course is that there’s nothing small about it.

“This group is made of grandmothers, mothers, young professionals, even young girls. Hazel is 12!,” Laurel explains.

At In The Soil Festival in 2018 the group gave chills to every spine in the room. It was raw. It was beautiful. And it was a refreshing departure from the standard folk act.

“I’m so honoured that so many people have given their time to this project. It was a really intense process writing and sketching out these tunes, so to hear them performed by real individuals, each a unique soul injecting their own passion into the songs, gives me new purpose to create music.”

What inspires you?

“Using music as a vehicle for change. Whether that means my own personal growth or the growth of us as a species in general, I just want my music to help make something or someone better.”

Why is growth important in this world?

“So much has happened on this planet in the past 100 years. Even 20 years! Slavery, subjugation, pollution, medication - a lot of things that were commonplace are completed outlawed now. We learned, we changed, we grew. There is no excuse for ignorance after we learn better ways...”

What’s the best thing about being an artist?

“Those brief moments where you connect with someone over a song - they express to you how it resonates with them, or helps them see a situation differently, or helps them rally strength and carry on.”

Recently, Laurel’s fans and fellow musicians got the chance to reciprocate that strength when she won Songwriter of the year at the 2018 Niagara Music Awards. On her Facebook wall Laurel wrote: “Wow - so honoured, Niagara. Thanks for believing in my songs and giving me the push I so badly needed.”

What is your dream venue for Minuscule?

“I would be so honoured to play one of the theatres at the Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines. It is such a beautiful venue and so acoustically fitting for what we do.”

When asked about touring she explains the difficulty of putting such a large act on the road; that asking the members to put their lives on hold for something that cannot pay the bills is unrealistic.

“I would love to tour, but I wouldn’t want to do it alone. So here I stay, just making and performing music in our backyard.”

You can catch Laurel and her choir perform at Wildwood Art Gallery on March 30th in Cayuga Ontario.

Slankmoose, Teenser Weenser, Worm Burger and Blackie Smalls.

These are the names of Laurel’s cats. They live cozily amongst the ukuleles and Taylor Hulley’s guitars.

Laurel, how do you carry an amplifier?

“In Taylor’s arms.”

Photo credit: Lauren Garbutt


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