Lauren Sanderson, American dreamer
Introducing a musician with big dreams and even bigger talent
Lauren Sanderson’s MO is helping others achieve their dreams. The 21-year-old musician slash rapper slash poet slash motivational speaker from Fort Wayne, Indiana, uses the word inspire, or a variation, more than 20 times in our interview and it’s clear to see that ambition is what’s driving her, much more than fame, fortune, or followers.
It’s a lofty goal, especially for someone so young who hasn’t been making music for long. But it’s clear from talking to Sanderson that if she wants something, she makes it happen. And she makes it happen on her own. Her first EP, Centre Of Expression, charted on both the Billboard and iTunes charts in 2016 despite not having a publicist or label. She’s attracted comparisons to the likes of Miley Cyrus, and has grown a dedicated and loyal fan base that most artists would pay good money for.
Good going for someone who says making music was “completely accidental”. “I knew I would always be in front of an audience,” she tells me over the phone from her office, taking a short break from creating merchandise designs for her next tour. “I just didn’t know what I’d be doing.” She says when she was “little little”, she wanted to be a magician but as she got older, it was motivational speaking that she enjoyed. Sanderson was really good at it – she was invited to do a TedX Talk which has since clocked up more than 25,000 views on YouTube – and it seemed like she’d found her niche. But she wanted more. “Speaking just wasn’t expressive enough. I wanted to jump up and down and cuss, and be myself, so that’s when I started turning my motivational speeches into songs.”
Doing just that, early tracks like Oceans and Dear Universe really do read like some of those motivational memes you see all over Instagram, with lines like “When this song ends, really think about your life / I have faith in you, take my words as advice / You are beautiful and everything will be alright / Make the change you wanna see, all doubts aside.” It’s a very positive message, and a worthy one, but as someone who talks openly about struggles with addiction, staying positive hasn’t always been easy. But Sanderson isn’t one to wallow. “We have an option in life every single morning when we wake up to be positive or negative. We all have bad things happening in our lives. We all have stress and worry, but the most important thing is that we’re on this side of the earth and as long as we’re alive then that’s something to be grateful for. When I first started making music, it was 100% about staying positive and being happy. But as I’m getting older I’ve realised it’s more like just express yourself and be honest with yourself.” To acknowledge that we all struggle, and that’s ok? “Yeah, exactly. My positive message was starting to come off like, ‘You’re not allowed to be sad’. I never wanted people to feel like that.”
Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Lauren in the September issue of DIVA, available now at divadigital.co.uk.
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