Lauren Gottshall is the music; the music is Lauren Gottshall.
Forged with passion and strengthened by distress, the bond has become an essential part of Gottshall’s existence.
At just 19, the Glencoe native is just beginning to find her way into a grueling industry known to overwhelm talented young artists. But with music as the focus, and fame and fortune as just a potential side effect, she’s ready.
âThe only thing that has been really positive in my life is music,â she said. âIt’s the one thing no one can take away from me.
âI say music saved my life. I think it gave me a purpose. When I was in high school and didn’t know what I was doing and so many changes were happening, music gave me stability and anchored me. It gave me something to focus on besides my anxiety and my parents’ divorce.
Gottshall graduated from New Trier High School in 2020 and is in his sophomore year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
She has just completed her busiest summer so far as a performer, performing on stage at the Dallas House of Blues and Glencoe, among others, opening act for OAR at a charity concert.
His connection to music is more lasting than ever and strengthens the 19-year-old songwriter.
âIt was the most surreal feeling. I can’t even describe it, âGottshall said of his summer. âI worked so hard to get here and now I’m here. It was very rewarding, because I introduced myself and wrote so much music, so it felt good to be recognized.
“I have a lot to say and I want people to hear my music.”
It’s been like this for a long time.
Lauren’s mom, Justine Gottshall, likes to jokingly tell people that Lauren sang before she spoke.
Around the age of 6, Lauren was singing Carrie Underwood’s hits, prompting Justine to activate her daughter’s skills.
At 12, Lauren had a guitar in her hand and was writing the lyrics to her own songs.
âMusic has always been such a big part of her and so inherent in her,â Justine said. âHonestly, she was signing and making up diddies when she was so young, it just kept growing and growing. â¦ From my perspective, that spark has always been there.
Before the guitar, Lauren had her hands on a piano.
But she quickly realized that was not it. The lessons were too rigid. Instead of FrÃ©dÃ©ric Chopin, Lauren wanted to learn Taylor Swift, or better yet, her own music.
Piano lessons were over and the Glencoe Academy of Music was there.
Lauren enrolled in music school in college, around the age of 11, she said. This is where his desire to write and perform his own songs grew.
âI fell even more in love with it,â she said, âbecause (academy director Carlos Bendfeldt) let me do what I wanted but still taught me. picking out the songs that we learnedâ¦ and he really supported me to let me write songs and record. It all started from there. â
They learned new pop music and classical rock music. Bendfeldt took over Lauren’s style and range and said they worked all of the music to her abilities. She began to incorporate all of this into her own work.
Amid free speech, Bendfelt noticed something else too – something he had never seen before.
During one session, Lauren took a few minutes of free time and wrote. Half an hour later she had a new song. Just like that.
âThe ability to be able to create these amazing melodies with lyrics on the spot is a genius,â he said. âI’ve never seen this happen. I’m sure it happens, but personally I’ve never seen it.
When high school arrived, Lauren stayed busy. She was an athlete (basketball and lacrosse) and a volunteer for local charities, but music became the priority.
She posted her work on Soundcloud and performed live at Starbucks and other small venues around town.
Also in high school, Lauren’s parents broke up, heightening her anxiety, she said. Music has become even more of a refuge, especially by performing it on stage.
âWhen I’m up there I’m very happy,â she said. âIn my life, with my parents’ divorce and anxiety issues, the music has remained stable. I am very proud of the work I have done and nothing compares to performing on stage.
The experiences also shaped her music, causing her to write more moving and complete songs and pushing her into a hybrid folk-pop-country genre.
Also during those years, Lauren absolutely wanted to enter a TV singing contest, like “The Voice” or “American Idol”.
She tried several times for them, but was turned down. The producers even flew her to Denver for a closer look, only to tell her she was too young, Lauren recalls.
The college application process also included an audition, for which she was one of some 5,000 applicants to attempt six places in the prestigious Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. Although a finalist, she was again ignored.
Lauren called the denials a “blessing in disguise.”
âI think everything happens for a reason,â she said. âI don’t think I would have the opportunities that I have if I had been on a TV show.
âDallas has confirmed the type of artist that I am. â¦ Choosing SMU was the biggest decision I made. Dallas kissed me in a way that I don’t think LA would have.
It all led up to last summer, as Lauren’s relationships and development put her on her biggest stages yet.
Off the stage, she is constantly working on new music and has a music video for a new song, “Easy For Me”, in development.
His first album “Expecting More” is available to stream online and includes songs like “Me and You” and “Back To Us”.
Activity came with business, too. And Lauren said she was lucky to have her mother, a lawyer, by her side for everything from contract reviews to general support.
Justine, who has two more children, said enabling Lauren’s talents was work, but good.
âIt’s a clichÃ©, but it’s the greatest joy of my life. It’s the most important job I have, âshe said. “There are years of fatigue, but there is nothing else I would like to do.”
Lauren hopes to release a four to five song EP soon – which will include three songs she calls her âbest workâ – and continue performing in and around Dallas.
Is fame in his future? Bendfeldt said it’s a matter of when, not if.
“In 30 years, I have never seen someone so talented,” he said. “â¦ She’s going to be okay.” I have this feeling. She’s made for the stage – charisma, aura. It is designed for live music.
âLauren just has to be in the right place at the right time,â Bendfeldt continued. âThe good music producer has to listen to it. So many students have been through here, and it was she who really impressed me.