When used correctly, words are capable of accomplishing more than physical action. When words aren’t enough, music takes over by “expressing that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” Victor Hugo said those words, and if there was ever an artist whose music served as evidence of his claim, it is Laura Whidden.
Whidden, an indie pop singer songwriter from Michigan who counts Sara Barellis, Sara Groves, and Ingrid Michaelson among her influencers, creates music with the singular objective of empowering people. Specifically, she aims to give strength to high school and college students in an age when poor self esteem and consequential self-harm among our youth are all too commonplace. For proof that her message of hope and love is resonating far and wide with people of all ages, one must look no further than Laura’s performance resume: her audiences have been as large as 25,000 people, her concerts have been broadcast to 60 different countries, and she’s opened for musicians including Scott Krippayne (songwriter for Jordin Sparks), Jeni Varnadeau (Pamplin recording artist) and 2012 GRAMMY winner Laura Story.
Recently, she’s partnered with humanitarian aid giant World Vision to offer select audiences the opportunity to give to children and communities in need. She’s also aligned with To Write Love on Her Arms, or TWLOHA, a global non-profit organization dedicated to providing hope and help for young people who are facing issues such as addiction, cutting, suicidal thoughts and depression. These partnerships have introduced scores of young people to Laura’s music, many of whom have approached her after a performance only to lift their sleeves and show her their scars. With such an intensely emotional response from her fans, some of whom were in recovery and others who were still in need of a helping hand, Laura became particularly interested in the concept of hope thinning and thickening. How would such an occurrence manifest visually? What, if anything, could be done to nurture that hope back to health?
The culmination of these thoughts is “Table for One”, the single from Laura’s 2012 album You Are. A gorgeous piano ballad that features Whidden’s soaring, angelic voice complimented by subtle string and delicate guitar work, “Table for One” paints a beautiful picture of one human helping another. It centers on an occurrence most of us deal with everyday – passing someone on the street we can tell is in need of help but something, whether it’s pride, fear, or financial inability, prevents us from lending a helping hand. The result of this neglect is often visible, as the one in need grows weaker physically and approaches hopelessness emotionally.
The refrain of “Table for One” states the narrator’s awareness of someone’s hope growing thin, but that they are too afraid to invite that person in for bread. Shortly thereafter, regret is expressed in the line “I don’t think the breaking of the bread of life should be done at a table for one.” In the song’s final chorus, our narrator recounts how she was once in need and was invited in for bread by a stranger, a memory that ultimately sparked a change of heart and prompted her to invite this needy stranger in “before another meal’s begun.”
Whidden’s intent with “Table for One” is to make sure everyone realizes they have the ability share the bread of hope with those most in need of it. “I want to let people know that they are not alone”, she says. “If they come away with one message from this, I hope it’s that there is a place for everyone at the table.”
As one can imagine, “Table for One” consists of the perfect subject matter for a music video. Laura identified this possibility immediately and, after raising the necessary funds through a Kickstarter campaign, worked with Washington D.C. creative team Blue Artists to produce the video in November 2013. Just as the song’s lyrics suggest, the video depicts a busy woman going about her every day business, walking past a young woman who’s handing out fliers on the street and being ignored by everyone. The busy woman initially pays her no mind but is eventually unable to stop thinking about her during her routine lunch conversations, and comes to the girl’s rescue just as things start to get worse. The video wonderfully displays the positive impact that just one simple act of kindness can have on someone. To see how the video ends, watch it on YouTube !
Laura premiered the “Table for One” video on April 24th at There is a Place for You, a free event featuring Michigan-based musical talent that was designed to raise awareness about the resources available to those struggling with emotional issues. This summer, the video will even be featured on the cable show Music Zone!
Laura knows as well as anyone how easy it is to see things others can’t when you’re outside of their situation. This includes things that have the potential to cure, such as the beauty in other people. But through music and video, two art forms that have the ability to get through to us all in a way that words cannot, Whidden’s found a way to empower people to love and to share hope with those who need it the most. Join the movement at one of Laura’s shows during her summer 2014 tour, and remember, there is a place for everyone at the table!”