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Art & Life with Lola Toben

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lola Toben.

Lola, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
For as long as I can remember, music has made me feel alive: dancing, singing, making up songs, and listening to artists like Elton John, Carole King, The Beatles, and Cat Stevens. I started taking piano and singing lessons around age 8. I loved it but was quite shy when it came to singing in front of people. I remember the first time I ever really let my voice go… my choir teacher saw something special in me and chose me to sing ‘O Holy Night’ on Christmas Eve. I was terrified to say the least: this little 9-year-old girl standing in front of 1,000 people at church. But once the music began, I allowed myself to be transported, forget the fear. To be moved beyond myself. And then I knew my calling.
I continued writing music, practicing, and performing in bands throughout high school. Then I decided to study jazz and composition in college. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. I married my long-time friend and bandmate, Bryan Toben, after graduation. Life was good: we played tons of great paying gigs, I taught music lessons, sang church, and did session work. But there was something missing… I still had this fire within me to pursue my own original songs to their fullest potential.

In 2016, an angel came to me in the form of my voice student Tara Savelo, makeup artist and friend of Lady Gaga. She opened my eyes about artistry, branding, stage presence, and presentation. She encouraged me to go for the dream. I’ll always be grateful for her help and my husband’s hard work to make it happen. That year, I performed three highly successful shows in St. Louis to packed houses at the top local venues. I finally had an 8-piece dream band playing all my own original music. There were vintage disco balls, costume changes, press covering the shows, and the whole works!

It was an amazing experience and I wanted to keep going. It felt like there was something pulling me to Los Angeles, the City of Stars. It was extremely difficult to make the decision and convince my husband that moving was a good idea. We had both lived in St Louis our whole lives and loved being close to our families. But in January 2017, we made the leap. In a few months, I was playing at Hotel Cafe and The Mint. I did some studio work, singing for a major motion picture trailer and other cool projects. I recorded my first EP with Grammy-nominated producers, Alex Elena and Topher Mohr. The EP came out single at a time over the summer and the songs received recognition from Los Angeles music blogs, local radio play, and placement on prominent Spotify playlists. Recently, my song “Bring My Baby Back to Me” was selected as a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition.

Right now I am gathering myself for the next phase of my career. Focusing in on my message, resonating my truth, and fully trusting in God to lead the way. I have exciting things on the frontier and most importantly, I am incredibly happy and grateful to be doing what I love.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
The sound of Lola is soulful, pop, jazz-influenced singer-songwriter. There are definitely some throwback elements to my sound. I love the 70s. It is fun to blend all the genres I like to create something new.

My music is 100% from the heart. Whether I am singing my own songs or covering someone else’s, my performance is all about communicating emotion or a message.

I have been writing songs since I was 12 years old. It has always been a therapeutic release for me. My lyrics give a very real look into my life struggles and how I’m feeling. I also write a lot of inspirational music about trusting in God, living in the moment, freedom, and believing in your own power.

I hope that when people hear my music, they can feel it in their souls. I hope that it is healing for them, reminds them that they are not alone in their struggle, makes them fall in love, and uplifts them.
The more I let my own light shine, the more I can inspire others to embrace their light.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
Success can look many different ways… having lots of plays on Spotify, followers on social media, sold out shows, etc. But to me what matters the most is emotionally connecting with people. Reaching their hearts and moving them. Making them feel human again. Music has the power to connect us in a way nothing else can. I try to be as open as possible to achieve this… to get out of my own way. When you start criticizing yourself or trying to control the situation too much, you are no longer an open channel to be communicated through. Authentic openness is what makes an artist great. Being unapologetically yourself.

I also think it’s important to have the desire to grow… always challenging yourself to write, sing, and play better.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
All of my music is available online for purchase/streaming. You can also follow me on social media! I play live shows in the Los Angeles area you can come out and support as well… all dates are available on my website.

Music
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6BqxIbmZqxT78tR5DQmiab
iTunes: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/artist/lola/id1240984168?app=itunes
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/musicoflola/sets/extendedplay

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Paris Lewis
Tyler DePerro

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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