Lauren Eylise’s story is one of empowerment, redemption and transformation. It’s one of binding ties to the roots of her craft, and it’s one for which she’s shaping the contemporary narrative of songwriting, Soul and R&B.
And it’s taken Eylise to a lot of places in relatively short order.
Her debut landed only two years ago, and that Life/Death/Life EP swiftly began turning heads and earning the young artist comparisons to none other than multiple Grammy Award winner Lauren Hill.
It was a sign of much more to come.
Eylise calls her music Eclectic Soul — it’s heartfelt Indie Folk with R&B and Soul inflections. When the full Part Time Lovers backing band joins her onstage, the worlds of Funk and electric Blues combine for a soul-stirring, vulnerable and sensual concoction.
“I believe music generally is taking a major turn,” Eylise says, describing her approach to fostering a unique medley of sounds. “Genres are becoming much more obsolete, more like guideposts as opposed to concrete boundaries. Artists, now more than ever, are able to create organically without the pressure of abiding by certain rules. You can produce an album with a variety of influences and still be successful.”
That attitude bodes well for the work she’s yet to share with us, and for tomorrow’s artists and songwriters around the bend as well.
“I think this next generation will further push that boundary and usher forth what the seasoned folk call ‘good music,’ as opposed to a replica of whatever is hot on the radio at the time,” she predicts.
Eylise’s own path began in Cincinnati, where she’s still a proud resident, despite significant success out of town. “I’m born and raised here, and there’s just no place like home, especially with family still living here,” she says.
After graduating from the University of Dayton (where she double majored in Women & Gender Studies and Public Relations), Eylise ventured to New York City to pursue her career. Writing the song “Petals” helped Eylise find artistic and life balance during that time, and served as a declaration to the world that she wouldn’t back down anytime soon."
While that time in New York was artistically productive, her roots here in the Queen City pulled Eylise back.
“I love my second home of New York City with all my heart, (but) I cannot deny the rich musical history embedded in the very streets I grew up in,” she says. “I love music to my core. And so much of my environment played a part in nurturing that love and passion, and it still does today. I’m able to travel and tour but returning home is always that icing on the cake.”
“I’m always so surprised but excited to find that it’s not just home that loves my music,” she adds.
It’s true — her talent and skillful songwriting have been warmly embraced by many beyond our own city limits. “From L.A. to New York to Arkansas to Chicago, everywhere I go the embrace is so encouraging and uplifting,” Eylise says. “People want to know more about me and my music.”
Those aforementioned elements of redemption and transformation so crucial to her musical personality are a big part of why people connect to her.
“Everywhere I perform,” she says, “people let me know that my music touches them and/or heals. That embrace alone is more than enough for me and I’m grateful to receive it.”
Bonus, then, that she gets to share her craft with some notable folks along the way. She’s shared stages with renowned artists like Erykah Badu, Train and Patti LaBelle; she’s also performed on bills with Matt Kearney, Raheem DeVaughn, Pretty Ricky and Lloyd.
“Patti LaBelle was by far the most influential person I’ve had the honor of gracing the stage with,” Eylise says. “She literally paused right before emerging on the stage for her set and took time to speak directly to me. Her message was simple: ‘Keep going. Don’t stop. No matter what, you have to keep going. You have it.’ ” Heady advice for a young talent to receive.
“Those words were all I needed,” she says. “They were in perfect alignment with what I’ve been telling myself thus far. And to have them spoken from the mouth of a living legend will forever be a monumental moment in my career.”
Accolades include a 2016 designation as Womenincharg3’s Best RnB Artist of the Year. She’s also been nominated for several Cincinnati Music Awards, in categories like Best Live Act, Best Singer/Songwriter and Best R&B/Funk/Soul artist.
Perhaps Eylise’s most high-profile opportunity was her selection as a spokesperson for P&G’s Secret deodorant #allstrengthnosweat campaign. Eylise says her participation has offered a platform to show a more personal and intimate side of her life and career.
“While I am so very proud and grateful to be a mother, I am also extremely overprotective of my son and my family life just as my mother was with me growing up,” she says. “As such, up until now I’ve been very selective with what I share (about my personal life) and I’ll continue to be very careful.”
But being more open about her personal growth in the videos that are a part of the campaign — in which her son also appears — has been an extension of her artistic gifts and her ability to connect with people’s humanity.
“The Secret campaign allowed other women like me — mothers and career women alike — to see themselves in my story and to also get to know my music along the way,” she says. “In that way, it’s not only expanded my audience but (it’s) allowed my audience to get to know me on a more intimate level.”
By the end of this year, Eylise hopes to share her next recording project with the world. Her upcoming single, “Peaks & Valleys,” is due in August (it has already been licensed for use in a commercial, she says). She’s excited to move on to the next phase of her career and share even more of herself.
“I’ve gone through so much since my first project’s release and it’s time I share the stories that have brought me here,” she says.
Returning to the advice of LaBelle, Eylise doubles down on her commitment to move forward.
“I’ve always been of the mindset to keep going. No matter what, keep going,” she stresses with determination. “I’m always about three steps ahead of what I’m working on. I am constantly evolving and I never stop working toward my goals. For me, that requires that I stay moving forward and that I remind myself, no matter how big or small the moment or show, I must keep going.”
Beyond her professional accomplishments, Eylise is laser-focused on staying true to her artistic integrity.
“While I’ve done some pretty amazing things,” she says, “what matters most to me is living in my truth as an artist. I’m closest to that when I’m creating from an authentic, raw and personal space. That’s where I am now, so this moment matters most.”
Lauren Eylise (laureneylise.com) performs a free show June 29 at Fountain Square with Abiyah and Freedom Nicole Moore & the Electric Moon. More info: myfountainsquare.com.