UCOL Music graduate Laura Signal has built up an impressive résumé as a singer, landing roles in musicals Grease and That Bloody Woman, and gigging with her band Equal Phase.
Laura had always wanted to be a performer. As a student at Palmerston North Girls’ High School, she performed in school musicals, and taught herself to play guitar and keyboard.
“I was looking at studying Performing Arts in Wellington, but realised that my passion was more for singing, rather than dancing and acting, so the UCOL music course was the best choice for me in terms of becoming a better singer and musician,” says Laura.
Laura, who completed UCOL’s Certificate and Diploma* in Contemporary Music Performance, says the lecturers guided her to become a better singer.
“It was great having guidance from people who know what they’re doing, aren’t scared to tell you when you’re doing badly or well, and provide direction on how to get better. I’ve missed having that really close guidance since I moved on from UCOL.”
Laura says the lecturers helped her build valuable connections and get her name out in the local music community. She fondly remembers visiting gig venue and recording space The Stomach
on the first day of class, and playing shows in public places like the Esplanade.
“The lecturers really made an effort to help us build networks out in the community. They really pushed us out there and got us to meet people who would help us take further steps. A lot of the opportunities I’ve got have come through UCOL, whether it is from the lecturers or people I met while on the programme.”
These days Laura is the singer for covers band Equal Phase
, regularly playing bars, corporate events, weddings, and bigger community shows like New Years in the Square.
Laura has also taken her skills to the theatre, appearing in Grease and That Bloody Woman, a rock musical that tells the story of influential suffragette Kate Sheppard.
“Grease was something I wanted to do since I was 11 years old. It was the first musical I ever saw, and it was actually the first thing that made me want to be a singer. The lady who played Jan waved at me and got me up dancing. I always remembered that.”
“When I auditioned for Grease, I originally went for the role of Rizzo, and was offered the role of Jan. I took it because the Jan who interacted with 11-year-old me really spoke to me, and I hoped I would have that effect on a little girl or boy in the audience.”
“That Bloody Woman was an incredible experience. It was special to share that story, spread that message, and talk about women’s rights in a setting where people are willing to listen.”
Laura credits her UCOL lecturers for teaching her how to take care of her voice, which has helped her perform musicals on back to back nights, and four hour gigs.
Away from the stage, Laura teaches singing at Monrad Intermediate School
, and has recently completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Education from Massey University. She aims to teach her students the same way she was taught at UCOL.
“I like to really engage with my students, hopefully in the way my lecturers did with me. While I’m not scared to tell them what they need to work on, I’m always there to help them find a way to get through it. It’s about being there to work with them through the good and the bad.”