Morristown singer Blaire Reinhard talks about CD tribute to Lauren Failla

blaire reinhard hits a hit note
Blaire Reinhard hits a high note at Morristown's Famished Frog on Saturday. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Morristown’s Blaire Reinhard Band threw a musical party Saturday night to celebrate a new CD, ‘Concert for Lauren.’

The album is a recording of a May show honoring the memory of Lauren Failla, 25, who died while vacationing in India this spring.

Blaire and the band performed several cuts from the gospel-tinged CD, along with original tunes and classic rock covers, at the  Famished Frog on Saturday. It was an upbeat, high-energy evening, as Lauren probably would have wanted it. Her parents, Frank and Kay, swayed to the music from the front row–Lauren’s favorite spot–with close friends.

Part of the proceeds from sales of the CD will support the Lauren Elizabeth Failla Foundation.

(The band also has contributed a song that you can use in your movie for the Film Festival. The deadline to enter is August 1.)

We asked Blaire what it’s like to memorialize a friend through music: Let’s start with the CD, “Concert for Lauren.”  The concert came fairly soon after Lauren’s death; it actually preceded Lauren’s funeral. People were still pretty traumatized. What do you remember from that show? Years from now, when you look back on that night, what do you think will stay with you?

Blaire Reinhard: Dancing in the aisles!  We didn’t expect the audience to do that, given the circumstances, but it truly seemed to be a manifestation of Lauren’s exuberance and energy.  We actually stretched out several of the up-tempo songs because we just didn’t want the dancing to stop!

I’ll also remember a strong feeling of togetherness that night, both in the audience and within the band.  Being on stage with my brother Gray, husband Wade, and dear friends Keith Woodward, Phil Ward and Clinton Curtis was more than I could ask for.

MG: What do you hope to achieve with the CD?

Blaire Reinhard: Most of all, we hope to spread the positive energy and beauty that is Lauren.  We are fortunate enough to be able to feature her artwork throughout the album too, so I’m excited for people to see that.  It’s remarkable that she was so talented and yet so humble, hardly ever even mentioning her own artwork or singing.

MG: How would you describe your relationship with Lauren, and with her family?  How close were you to Emily, Lauren’s late sister?

Blaire Reinhard: I met Lauren just a few years ago, when the band and I moved back to New Jersey, and she instantly became one of those people who I envisioned in my life forever.  In fact, a great anecdote about Lauren is that after our first few times hanging out, she called me to ask formally if we could be “friends”… I was flattered!

Her sister Emily was my tennis partner in high school, and just like Lauren, she was the type of girl who only brought joy and enthusiasm to the world.  She was beautiful, happy, and full of spirit.  Kay and Frank Failla are such kind and loving people…it’s easy to see where Emily and Lauren’s engaging personalities came from.

MG: It’s still only been a few weeks since Lauren’s passing. What was it like producing this album?  Did it help you come to grips with this tragedy?  Achieve any sort of closure?  Or did it force you to keep reliving this painful period?

Blaire Reinhard: Since it was a live album, producing went fairly quickly and was mostly technical.  Derek Vintschger did a wonderful job of mixing and mastering the tracks, which he recorded during the concert with the assistance of Lee Bender.

So many times during the preparation for the concert and the production of the CD, I felt Lauren’s presence, and in that way it was a comforting process.  I continue to listen to the CD, and although parts of it bring me tears, I do enjoy feeling the connection to Lauren.

MG: What kind of response have you been getting to your “Song for Lauren”? As time goes by, is it becoming any easier for you, emotionally, to perform that song?

Blaire Reinhard: Mostly, the people that have responded to me about the song have been people who knew Lauren.  I hope it may mean something to others who have lost loved ones.

MG: To take it a step further …  a death like this can shake one’s core beliefs, it can shatter our coping mechanisms. Yet instinctively, it seems, you turned to your music during this dark time. “Song for Lauren” really is an astonishing piece of work–astonishing for the eloquent way it captures Lauren and a moment in time, and for your grace under pressure. You delivered this gift to a grieving community at precisely the moment it was needed most. What has this experience taught you about music, and the role it plays in our lives?

Blaire Reinhard: The grind of frequent gigging and the non-musical work that is necessary to keep a band in motion can sometimes make us lose sight of the reasons we play music in the first place.  There’s tremendous healing power, comfort, and togetherness in song.  It’s terrible that it sometimes takes a tragedy to bring that into focus, but it does.

When Lauren died, Wade, Gray and I spent a lot of time playing in the living room together.  We just played any song we could think of that allowed us to express what we were feeling; emotional ballads as well as upbeat gospel inspired tunes.  Songs that seemed to speak to us over those days were then included in the concert setlist, though songs like “I Shall Not Walk Alone” and “Forever Young” were almost too difficult to get through, even in a rehearsal.

Other songs were chosen because we knew Lauren enjoyed them, such as “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, or “Could It Be” which is one of our songs from our first album.  I wrote “Song For Lauren” to console myself as much as anything.  There was nothing forced about it.  It’s a simple song with a simple message, but it means a lot to me.

MG: Anything more you want to say about the CD, Saturday’s show, or anything else?

Blaire Reinhard: Just thanks to everybody who has supported us so wholeheartedly these past few months.  This whole experience has really made me appreciate every day and every moment I get to spend with friends and family.

MG: Thanks very much, Blaire.

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