While all musicians use their gifts to entertain, it is rare to find an artist who intentionally and genuinely uses their platform for the greater good. Lauren Monroe is doing just that, using her voice as a catalyst for collective healing.
Monroe’s shows are more than enjoyable. Weaving together a tapestry of singing, storytelling, instrumentals and well-thought-out interaction, her concerts are an immersive experience. They’re the result of growth throughout her life and professional career—growth that made clear to her what she wanted to put out into the world.
In addition to being a singer and songwriter, Monroe is a passionate mental health advocate. Along with her husband, Rick Allen of Def Leppard, she created the Raven Drum Foundation, whose mission is to serve and educate veterans, first responders and trauma survivors through wellness-support programs.
The desire to heal has profoundly influenced Monroe’s music. “[I] realized that you can go through another doorway that really affects people as they’re going through the healing process,” she tells WW. “I was more encouraged to do that, in many different forms. Songwriting is one, using drumming and using sound for healing are others. I just found different ways that I can use my skills, because I know the world is becoming more and more aware—more ready to heal. We’re all kind of struggling at this point, so it’s good to talk about these things.”
Monroe will continue to shine a light on these issues as she embarks on tour for her third album, Messages From Aphrodite, which will be released Sept. 9. Co-produced with Jim Scott and featuring collaborations with Rick Allen, Tyler Bryant and others, the album combines rock, country and Americana to get its nurturing message to the widest possible audience.
“It’s really rough out there, and there are a lot of people who don’t even go for [mental health] treatment,” Monroe says, adding “that’s where I feel like my role fits, because many people like to go for a night out. That’s their way of healing. That’s where I can help people, because they come in and have an introspective musical experience with other people.”
Gently tackling tough topics is something Monroe excels at—and she makes it a priority at her shows. “I can talk about these things in ways that are comfortable and feel like a safe space,” she says. “I feel a responsibility that if I’m going to bring up an emotional topic, I need to make sure that I can hold people in that space.”
For Monroe, emotional healing isn’t something that should be lonely or joyless. She loves friendly back-and-forth banter, as well as interacting with her audiences. “I like to give people a personal experience, because in general I really love people,” she says. “There’s a lot of laughing and very inspirational music. People dance and it’s always great to help people feel their own spiritual power and be ready for the next day.”
SEE IT: Lauren Monroe plays at The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave., 503-222-2031, theoldchurch.org. 7:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 10. $20-$25. All ages.