Some people know me as a mild-mannered nurse practitioner. What some people don’t know is that I also work with my wife, who was the last business manager for singing artist Laura Branigan, in the company they formed, Other Half Entertainment, which now carries on these 11 years after Laura’s death in 2004, managing business affairs, and working to positively preserve and protect Laura’s legacy.
Every year, we host the Laura Branigan “Spirit Of Love” Memorial Gathering, in central Long Island, New York, so that it’s close to a regional airport, and close enough for a nice drive to the areas around where Laura last called home in the East End. And that’s where I am right now. This year’s “Spirit Of Love” event is over, and now it’s time for a little break.
Over these last number of years we’ve done work for Laura, including the management work as well as operating her official website (www.LauraBraniganOnline.com), we’ve come in contact with literally thousands of fans who have expressed their thoughts about Laura, how Laura’s music touched something in them, fit a particular life event, or helped them through a certain period of their lives. Laura’s life story, too, resonates well with many people. On stage, Laura relied on her voice to make her point and touch people. Unlike a number of other artists of that time, she didn’t need electronic manipulations to make her sound good. Off-stage, Laura was a humble, “down-home” person, who took care of her husband Larry when he was diagnosed with cancer, practically quitting the music business in order to care for him until his death. She further showed her devotion to family by actively caring for her mother who had Alzheimer’s disease, instead of simply putting her in a nursing home. I can’t say that other artists of her time, now getting older themselves, wouldn’t do the same as Laura did. But overall, the way Laura lived both publicly and privately, made a huge difference in how others perceived her.
If you’re a “diehard” fan of Laura Branigan, you can practically count on one hand the number of times during her life that she was chased by paparazzi, hounded by such scum just out looking for a so-called “juicy tidbit.” She, like every other celebrity, had “secrets” and a private life that she wanted to keep private. But unlike celebrities of today, and even in the times of the height of her fame, she wasn’t hounded by the paparazzi, she wasn’t nailed by the entertainment press for scandals and secrets. She lived her life both publicly and privately in such a way that there was nothing for the hounds and the paparazzi to do to her. She was able to successfully maintain her public life and her private life separately. And it’s great to know that even today, those same “diehard” fans don’t seem to worry over “every little thing” about Laura’s life – they know, and know what’s really important, which is clearly why so many identify with Laura’s life story, not just are drawn by her music.
That’s one of the things that I think make Laura unique among music celebrities, even 11 years after her passing; she didn’t feel the need to flaunt things. She let her voice do the talking. She had an incredible 4-octave range that didn’t need electronic manipulations to sound great. She didn’t need flashy costumes or pyrotechnics or scantily-clad dancers crowding the stage, like so many of today’s artists seem to “need.” She was Laura Branigan, and people who loved her music and identified with her life story knew where she came from, and where she was going.
Those extreme few of us who had the privilege and pleasure of interacting with her personally, on a daily basis, knew “Laurie” (as she would only let her very close friends call her) as a warm, generous, yet extremely strong and confident woman. Like everyone, she had her struggles, but she knew that she had a tight circle of close friends to rely on.
But it’s not just about us. Laura knew, every time she stepped on stage, that she could feel the energy from her fans, whom she called her “other half.” It’s about Laura, and the millions of good people around the world who love Laura and truly care about her legacy. Over this past weekend, we’ve heard from thousands of people who told us that they both miss Laura and appreciate her music, and identify in various ways with her life story; many who wish they had had the opportunity to meet with her at least one time, but know if they had, what kind of person they would meet; not a celebrity to be awed, but a real person, like them, with whom they could easily identify. That’s truly the “magic” (if you will) about Laura.
And while we wind down this year’s “Spirit Of Love” Memorial Gathering, a time and place for fans to come and honor Laura, and gather with like-minded people for a few days, we appreciate those who have come to the events over the years, and those who were not able to make it in person, but have certainly made it in “spirit”, thinking about Laura over the weekend, playing her music, lighting a candle in her memory, and honoring her legacy the way Laura would want to be remembered. My thanks to her real fans, Laura’s “other half”, for helping us keep her legacy alive and moving in a positive direction. Hopefully, we’ll see you next year!