Shore Presents Conversation and Music with Jazz Vocalist Lauren Henderson ’02

On December 8, some 50 guests tuned in via Zoom for a special virtual event featuring conversation and music with jazz vocalist Lauren Henderson ’02. The event was hosted by Pre-K teacher Beth White, who had been Henderson’s second grade teacher. “I have so many fond memories of our year together at Shore,” White said. “It’s been such a pleasure reconnecting with Lauren as an adult.”

Introducing the event, Head of School Clair Ward said, “We are thrilled to have Lauren for our very first virtual alumni program. Being together as an extended Shore community and highlighting our alumni has never been more important to us.” 

Ward went on to sketch Henderson’s multi-faceted career. Originally from Marblehead, Henderson has become an internationally known recording artist. She also combines her passion for music, philanthropy, and business as the CEO of Brontosaurus Records. Described as “somewhere between a comforting whisper and a cogent declaration” by The New York Times, Henderson’s eclectic work spans genres to produce a distinct yet versatile sound. She most recently earned recognition by breaking the Jazz Week Charts - Top 5 with 2020’s “The Songbook Session,” a recording on which Henderson “excels at refreshing jazz and Latin standards for the modern ear,” according to Downbeat. In 2019, she was profiled in the Financial Times after earning her executive MBA from Brown University and the IE Business School. With numerous international tours under her belt, Henderson’s work resonates with audiences around the world. Her original music was recently featured in The Drowning, directed by Bette Gordon and starring Julia Stiles, Avan Jogia, Josh Charles, and Tracie Thoms, as well as the Mexican comedy series El Juego de Las Llaves

According to Shore’s Director of Advancement, Katie Kozin, “We were thrilled to host Lauren for Shore’s first virtual alumni program. Lauren’s journey and accomplishments in both music and business are not only impressive, they tell a beautiful story of how seeds planted at Shore can blossom. The relationship that Lauren has maintained over the years with her former second grade teacher, Beth White, speaks to the enduring nature of Shore connections. Lauren and Beth chatted easily on topics ranging from Lauren’s early days at Shore to her decision to pursue a career in music, enroll in an MBA program, and launch her own business.”

When White asked Henderson to speak about her time at Shore, Henderson recalled, “I’m so grateful for the connections that I made at Shore. What strikes me as I look back is how welcomed I felt as a new student at the school—not only by the faculty, but also by my fellow students. I felt like my entire grade embraced me, and that set a great tone for my time at Shore.” Henderson spoke about singing with Shore’s Puellae Cantantes, and recalled many other Shore experiences with art and music. “I remember how supportive the Shore community was as we explored our different interests in the arts at a young age. Visual arts and performing arts can be catalysts for one another, and I remember receiving lots of encouragement to be creative and work on my craft.”

Henderson told listeners about her upbringing in a musical household, and explained, “Finding your sound requires soul-searching and getting to know yourself. It really is about finding your voice. I like to think that my sound is me at my most natural state.” Still, said Henderson, “Part of the journey is also studying a lot of the great vocalists and imitating and learning from them to develop all the tools you need to paint the colors that you’d like to through music.”

During the event, the audience enjoyed several recent music videos featuring Henderson and various collaborators, including an original take on “My Favorite Things” that was animated especially for the Shore event. Of recording music during a pandemic, she observed, “The process was different, but I was surprised at how fun it was to work remotely with fellow musicians. It forced me to learn more about mixing and mastering, two trades I’d normally contract to others but which I had to tackle myself because of the pandemic. We used FaceTime to discuss the music and how we wanted it to feel, the emotion and the groove.”

“It was a treat to hear Henderson provide explanations and context to help listeners better understand the songs,” said Katie Kozin. 

Henderson also took questions from attendees, ranging from a current sixth grader to a young alum, sharing her perspective and offering advice to young performers interested in a career in the music industry. “I always encourage the next generation of musicians to listen to many different types of artists, learn as much as they can about the industry, and be prepared for many shifts and changes throughout their career. The entertainment world is always evolving.” It’s also important for young musicians to take risks, she noted. “Just go for it,” she told attendees. “Even if it’s not something that’s your strength, just try. You’ll eventually find your own voice and sound.” On hearing these words, Beth White observed, “You have the wisdom of a great educator, Lauren!”
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    • Lauren Henderson '02

    • Pre-K teacher Beth White, Lauren's second grade teacher, hosted the event from her classroom.