Now is the Time: Kenney Debuts First Album at 56 Years Young
On Sept. 8, Laurie Kenney’s first single, “Once Upon a Time,” went live for all the world to hear, soon to be followed by her debut album, Every Apple Does Go Bad Eventually, which drops for streaming and download in early October and is available to pre-buy now on Amazon.
For this Guilford wife, mom, and publishing, publicity, and education career professional, putting out this original music is more than a milestone—it’s reaching the summit of a personal challenge at the age of 56.
“My challenge to myself was I was going to learn guitar, write the songs, record them, and share it with my family and friends. That was it. So anything beyond that, for me, is amazing,” says Laurie of her year-long odyssey.
Laurie says she actually wrote her first song at the age of 12, followed by writing her second song this year at 56.
“In the 44 years in between, I built a career in publishing, public relations, and education and raised a family,” says Laurie.
Laurie also kept on writing during those years, keeping a journal and writing poetry. The first song she wrote for her new album is her new single, “Once Upon a Time.”
“I’ve always been a music fan, so I figured, why not try?” says Laurie of her confidence in creating her own music.
No kidding—Laurie remembers being struck by the power of music at about age 5 when she found a discarded 45-rpm single on the way home from her kindergarten bus stop.
“It was in the sand on the side of the street. It had a crack on one side of it. I remember the feeling of picking it up and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a record!’ And I went home, and I played it,” Laurie says. “It was Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘Everyday People,’ and I just played it forever.”
Repetition was also required as Laurie taught herself to play guitar. She used a tried-and-true mnemonic device, “Every Apple Does Go Bad Eventually,” to remember the six guitar strings by name and order. The memory device also went on to become the name of her debut album.
Laurie currently works as an administrative assistant at Wesleyan University (Middletown), where she helped create the branding for the College of the Environment. She credits her work commute with giving her the time to dream up the songs on her album. Laurie thought up all eight songs during a single two-week period while driving Route 77 to and from her office at Wesleyan.
She says that while the experience that inspired this song collection is personal, the themes explored are universal: love and loss, loyalty and betrayal, forgiveness and revenge, despair and hope.
“I wrote these songs from personal experience, but as fans, you find your own meaning in songs, depending on what your history is and what you’ve gone through,” she says.
As someone who once served as Globe Pequot book publisher’s publicist for Sir Roger Moore, Laurie knows what it takes to reach the entertainment masses. However, unlike the media circuit through which she guided Moore as publicist for two of his books, including, Bond on Bond: Reflections of 50 Years of James Bond Movies, Laurie has taken more of an indie route to distribute and talk up her newly released work.
Fans can stream “Once Upon a Time” and pre-order Every Apple Does Go Bad Eventually now at https://bit.ly/lkenney-once. To view Laurie’s lyric video for “Once Upon a Time,” go to https://bit.ly/videoonce.
As someone who is moving into her “Third Age” (60 and over), Laurie hopes that her passion to put out her first album at the age of 56 will send an important message to others who are also in the prime of their lives.
“As humans, we have an innate need to create. I hope my story inspires others moving into, or already deep within the Third Age, to explore new paths, create new projects, and live their best lives,” she says. “I hope that they are inspired to reach for things that they want, or to challenge themselves, and to stretch themselves in ways they want to try but don’t think they can.”
As a part of the Wesleyan community, Laurie had several amazing sources to help her along the way as she developed and recorded her music. She credits colleague Rani Arbo (of Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem), who serves as campus and community engagement manager at the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan, with being one of her first “sounding boards.” Arbo also put Laurie in touch with music producer Michael Arafeh at his Middletown recording studio, The Coffeehouse.
“Michael spent so much time with me, shaping the album with me. Honestly, I couldn’t have done this without him,” says Laurie, adding, “It was amazing being there, because of all the history. Lin Manuel-Miranda and Thomas Kail recorded the demo for ‘In the Heights’ at The Coffeehouse, when they were students at Wesleyan. I recorded my songs using the same microphone used by Lloyd Cole, whom I love.”
Laurie has many others to thank for assisting her during this incredible journey, beginning with her husband of 25 years, Jerry, whose only request regarding the album is, “...make sure people know these songs aren’t about me!” says Laurie, laughing. “He’s such a great guy and so supportive.”
The couple raised their two daughters, Delaney and Addie, in Guilford. As pre-teens, Laurie helped mentor them to launch their Make a Difference Day “almost sleep-over” as a national award-winning project, The United States of Community Service, in 2011.
Now that she’s launched her debut record, Laurie’s ready to meet her next challenge: performing live. She’s set to take the stage for the very first time at The Bailey College of the Environment at Wesleyan’s annual Pumpkinfest at Long Lane Farm on Saturday, Oct. 14.
While she jokes that she’s not quitting her day job, Laurie is serious about continuing to challenge herself.
“It’s about setting challenges,” says Laurie. “I’ve had a great career, and I’ve done a lot of cool things in my career. Now it’s time to explore, personally, the things that I haven’t done that I want to try, and see where they’ll lead me.”