Working on a dream

Working on a dream
Elmont’s Laurent Luke is looking to carve out a niche for himself in the southeast Queens music scene with his sophisticated style and romantic lyrics.
By Morgan Rousseau

Twenty-one year old R&B singer Laurent Luke is revving up his career in the music industry. A fixture in the southeast Queens music scene who lives just over the Nassau border in Elmont, the up-and-coming songwriter describes himself as an urban gentleman hoping to reach people through his emotional, wholesome lyrics.

“I want to bring out love in my music. I write. A lot of people don’t get to write, so they don’t get to enhance what they say,” Luke said. “I bring out the emotion in my music. It’s about love — the mental aspect as well as the physical aspect.”

The Haitian-born musician came to the United States when he was 5 years old and grew up listening to artists like Boyz II Men, James Brown and the Jackson 5. He started writing love songs at an early age, picking up tidbits from the romantic relationships of his sisters and their friends.

After graduating from Elmont Memorial High School in 2007, Luke enrolled at Nassau Community College, where he currently studies business administration on a part-time basis.

In addition to his academic studies, Luke is getting an education in how to be a star, thanks to his managers, Steven Carthan and Carl Radjpaul, who have flung him into a militaristic “R&B Boot Camp.” Luke describes the regime as helpful and challenging.

The method involves surprising Luke with knocks at his door at dawn, accompanied by demands for on-the-spot performances. The boot camp also coaches Luke on how to interact with the public by hiring fake fans and reporters to swarm him after staged concerts.

“Steven and Carl are like my big brothers. They’re always making sure that my performance is better by putting me in a spot where I’m uncomfortable,” Luke said.

Luke came to meet his new managers by chance. He was out one night in January 2009, eating at the USA Diner in Rosedale. He overheard Carthan, who was at a nearby table, talking about his start-up production company, Start 2 Finish Productions and Publishing. Luke introduced himself, adding that he was a singer. That’s when Carthan challenged him to serenade the diner. His performance won them over, because shortly after, Luke and Carthan started working together, along with co-manager Carl Radjpaul.

Under their tutelage, Luke is developing a unique style to set himself apart from other artists. He describes the image he’s going for as “urban gentleman.”

“Wherever I go, I’m always respectable in my attire and what I say in my music,” Luke said. He wants to be prepared, because at any moment a big break could be just around the corner. “If they don’t get to speak to you, they see what you wear,” he said.

Luke is also seeking out bookings for performances in order to expand beyond modest-sized venues in Jamaica. He also has a collaboration underway with Red Spyder, a producer who has worked with Lauren Hill and Mary J. Blige. Luke and Spyder are set to release six songs together.

And songwriting is something Luke knows a thing or two about.

Every night of his freshman year at Nassau Community College, he wrote lyrics over all the instrumental samples he could find on YouTube. He compiled more 200 songs.

“I got to the point where I was eager to work and put out my music fast,” Luke said. “I had no money coming out of high school. So I went in my room and went through instrumentals and tracks. I went through seven months of just being in my room on YouTube writing, just writing.”

Since setting his sights on a music career, Luke’s attitude has been about self-improvement, about hard work, about discipline.

He says these efforts are ways to keep him growing. “I want to portray growth in everything I do.”

Laurent Luke is available for booking through ibookeverybody.com.

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