In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument

Home | Doo Wop | Barbershop | World | Contemporary | Christian | Vocal Jazz | Choral | Christmas | Instructional | Arrangements

Classical | Opera | Musicals | Personality | Young Singers | Disney | Videos | Songs | The Artists

Laurel Murphy

Laurel Murphy

Living in: Vancouver, Canada.

Laurel Murphy is a Vancouver-born singer, improviser and teacher of vocal improvisation. Her musical influences and interests are diverse, and include performances of jazz repertoire, interdisciplinary collaborations, spontaneous choral composition (SongRise), solo work with loopers and extensive practise exploring the healing properties of sound. A long-time student and assistant of Rhiannon (Bobby McFerrin's "Gimme5"), improvisation has been a constant thread that runs through all aspects of Laurel's work.

Laurel has appeared as a jazz vocalist at a variety of venues in Vancouver. Her CD"When I Was a Bird" (CDbaby, itunes, Spotify) was released in 2015 and features jazz arrangements of well-known folk classics, as well as standards. Recorded with the talents of some of Canada's finest musicians, "When I Was a Bird" is adventurous and evocative.

Laurel has also appeared on a variety of other recordings, as singer and co-producer of Rhiannon's "Flight" CD, background vocals for children's singer/advocate, Raffi, and spontaneous compositions with a 17 voice choir. Her current recording projects include improvised soundscapes for relaxation, 3D sound and improvised looper compositions.

Laurel's love of interdisciplinary work has led her to collaborate with many singers, dancers and poets. Her latest project, "Blank Space" is a monthly 'open studio' concept that invites audience members to witness improvised vocal explorations, spontaneous collaboration with artists of other disciplines and audience participation.

In 1995 and 1999, Laurel produced two pivotal events in Vancouver for New Year's eve, sharing the stage with Rhiannon and 6 other conductors. SongRise was inspired by Bobby McFerrin's circle singing concept and featured a 5-hour continuous improvised choral creation. The two events brought together over 2200 singers and audience members in a celebration of spontaneous voice, and launched an improvisational choir and classes that continued for 12 years. Laurel and Rhiannon were 2 of 4 women featured in the documentary "Sing!" in 2000. Laurel continues to lead SongRise circle singing in Vancouver.


Daughter of musical parents who first met in a church choir, Laurel began singing at a young age. She grew up listening to everything from Joni Mitchell to Puccini, Led Zepellin to Nat King Cole and Glenn Miller. In 1992, after several years of classical voice training with Gillian Hunt, she met Rhiannon, a founding member of Bobby McFerrin's cutting-edge a cappella group "Voicestra" and was introduced to the wild world of vocal improvisation. Exposure to this approach altered Laurel's relationship to music and inspired her to delve deeper into the art of improvisation, as well as to complete the Jazz and Contemporary Music program at VCC.

She has worked intensively with Rhiannon since 1992, as student and assistant at regular workshops in Canada and the US and as co-pilot at her first All the Way In program in 2008 and a participant in 2017. Laurel is devoted to the ongoing study and practise of improvisation. It is a passion and a life path.

Laurel has also been very influenced by her studies with masters of other improvisational disciplines: Ruth Zaporah (movement/sound/narrative), Natalie Goldberg (writing), Stewart Cubley (painting), Richard Armstrong (voice) and Margie Gillis (movement).


Laurel is very passionate about the potential of sound to heal and transform. She began working with the Callanish Society in Vancouver in 2004, offering sound sessions for cancer support and creating the Sound Journeys series for the general public. While at Callanish, Laurel was very fortunate to learn from hypnotherapist Lis Smith. Together they produced a hypnosis cd called "Blossomtime" for relaxation and sleep. Laurel continues to offer sound sessions at Callanish and appreciates how it continues to deepen her experience of music and service.


Laurel's ongoing work with a variety of improvisational disciplines and vocal techniques form the foundation of her teaching. Since 1997 she has been offering classes and workshops that explore the voice as instrument and improvisation as a vehicle of creative expression and personal transformation. Laurel's approach to singing is joyful and spontaneous, building trust in one's inner musician, encouraging risk-taking and laughter, and ultimately the discovery of many hidden gifts.

Groups directed - Songrise Choir

Web Site - Laurel Murphy

Specialty Arrangements

Find a Song

Lists of Songs With Arrangements