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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Jun. 18, 2015 5 years ago

West Orange-area singer-songwriter Layla Brisbois shines on stage

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by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

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Music must certainly be a destiny for anyone named after a classic Eric Clapton song.

Layla Brisbois first performed as a little girl — standing on her grandparents’ hearth, singing for her parents and siblings.

But now, at 22, she has broadened her stage and her audience and belts out cover songs and originals at places such as Crooked Can Brewing Company and Urban Flats, both in downtown Winter Garden, and The Whiskey, a restaurant and bar on Sand Lake Road, in Orlando.

Her website lists her goals: “To sing for thousands of screaming people, to win awards for my music, to be a positive role model, to bring people to the Lord, to inspire people (and) to move people. … I want to sing for the rest of my life, because it’s one thing I’ll never get tired of.”

Brisbois took piano lessons for 10 years, starting when she was 7, and now continues to play on her own. She knows her way around a guitar, too, teaching herself to play when she was 16. Her writing style began as poetry, and she has evolved from that starting point, putting words to music.

As a student at Gotha Middle School, she was involved in the drama department and performed in school plays. She realized the stage is her home, her comfort zone.

When it came time to think about college and a major, the 2011 West Orange High School graduate realized she liked several options but felt passionate about none of them.

“I always came back to music,” she said.

Brisbois describes her music as inspirational anthems.

“I like to write motivational things,” she said. “I like chasing-your-dream things, and when I write, I like for that to come through.”

She estimates she has about 100 completed songs, enough for multiple albums, and is working on putting one together this year.

“My producer believes in me and what I want to do,” she said.

That producer is Michael Walker and his Gotha-based Dream Walker Music. He has been a part of the music industry for more than 20 years as a guitarist, studio musician, instructor, composer, talent developer and producer. He also books live talent for the Gotha restaurant yellow dog eats. 

Late last year, he met Brisbois, who was looking to perform. After listening to her on YouTube, he invited her as a special guest for one of his studio showcases at yellow dog.

“I was immediately impressed by what I heard and knew this was someone with genuine talent who had a lot of potential,” Walker said. “She really put her heart and soul into her music and is a natural performer. Her sound is reminiscent of Kelly Clarkson and Pink, and she has a great tone and broad vocal range.

“Her passion for music translates clearly through her performances, and she has a great live presence,” he said.

ENTERTAINING THE CROWD

On a recent Saturday, Brisbois was set up outside the brewery, playing her guitar and performing covers of Joan Jett and Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and Sixpence None the Richer. And then she slipped into the part of the show she likes best: singing her original songs, like “Shine” and “I’m Finally Me” and “My Family and Me.”

Her family has come out to support her, as have some friends. Husband Brandon Gracey is there, too, seated at one of the front tables. Her parents live in Stoneybrook West, in Winter Garden, and Brisbois and Gracey live near the Winter Garden-Ocoee border near Maguire Road.

All of her original songs are posted on YouTube, but her favorite, by far, is “Shine.”

“I wrote it when I finally made the decision to 100% pursue my music,” she said. “I decided I’m not going to college; this is what I’m going to do.”

She is currently working full-time at Whole Foods but plans to drop to part-time in August so she can concentrate on writing and releasing more music and performing. 

How does she get her gigs? 

“I’m relentless,” she said. “When I hear about a new place, I will contact them, send an email and a video.”

Her first opportunity was nearly a year ago when she performed at Urban Flats in Winter Garden. She now plays and sings at about 10 locations with the desire to “keep it fresh and exciting and new,” and she loves introducing herself to new crowds.

“Since the release of ‘Shine,’ Layla has really taken off on the local music scene,” Walker said. “I have no doubt that her talent and ambition will lead to her success in the music industry and that we will be seeing a lot more of her in the future.”

Brisbois believes this, too.

“I want to be the biggest there ever was,” she said, “and I won’t stop until the world knows my name.”

GIG SCHEDULE

Layla Brisbois will be performing this month at these locations:

• The Whiskey — 7:30 p.m. June 18 and 24 and at 7 p.m. June 19 and 26

• Crooked Can — noon June 20, 21 and 27

• Boathouse at Disney — 5 p.m. June 20 and 9 p.m. June 25

• Tin Roof Orlando — 8 p.m. June 22 and 29

• Bella Tuscany — 6 p.m. June 27

LYRICS TO "SHINE"

This competition is starting to get old

You wanna break break, break my soul

Well throw your best punch, but you should know

That I am built built unbreakable

Wanna turn me to ashes but hell already tried

Stick a knife in my back but I just won't die, no

Cuz I've got a fire in my eyes

Listen to the rhythm of your heart and dance with it baby, dance with it baby

Pursue your passions overcome your scars and let ’em call you crazy, let ’em call you crazy

Cuz there's a new light in your eyes tonight

So, baby, shine

I can see some people lurkin’ in the dark

They're tryin to steal steal, steal my spark

Well send your black clouds and twisty ways

I'll bring your non-believing mind down with one swing

You stick me in the mud but I just won't sink

You try to silence my voice but my passion's overflowing

You can't bring down someone who's destined to fight

Listen to the rhythm of your heart and dance with it baby, dance with it baby

Pursue your passions overcome your scars and let ’em call you crazy, let ’em call you crazy

Cuz there's a new light in your eyes tonight

So, baby, shine

Breathe through the passion

Breathe through the flames

You gotta go through some hell to earn your wings, oh

Never surrender, no never back down

Be proud of your dreams stand out in a crowd, and smile through it all

And be who you want to be

Listen to the rhythm of your heart and dance with it baby, dance with it, baby

Pursue your passions overcome your scars and let ’em call you crazy let ’em call you crazy

Cuz there's a new light in your eyes tonight

So, baby, shine

So, baby, shine

This competition is starting to get old you should know by now I'm unbreakable

Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].

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