Maricopa-based country pop singer Laura Walsh hesitantly leans against a 1966 white Shelby GT 350 prototype in Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale headquarters.
Walsh, who will sing the National Anthem at the event on Wednesday, Jan. 17, and Friday, Jan. 19, approaches her appearances or performances with poise and grace – and the occasional wide smile.
She has something on her mind: the importance of the National Anthem, with which she has kicked off sporting events, too.
“I take it really seriously,” Walsh said. “For me, singing the National Anthem is honoring the people who care about the people of our country and sacrifice their lives so we can live out our dreams and live in freedom.”
Walsh is living her dream. Declared the soloist winner of the 2014 Alice Cooper Proof Is in the Pudding talent search, Walsh performed at the subsequent Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding concert.
She also has shared the stage with Train, The All-American Rejects, Buckcherry and Tonic.
She’s a veteran of the Country Thunder festivals in Arizona and Wisconsin with headliners such as Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, The Band Perry, and Luke Bryan.
Walsh released her debut album, “Take Your Time,” featuring her original singles “Hit and Run,” “How Many Days” and the title track, all of which received frequent airplay.
“I really appreciate all the success I’ve had,” she said. “I’m definitely blessed.”
This year will bring new music to Walsh fans. Not wanting to give too much away, she said there’s an original music collection and a covers project.
“I’m really excited about the new songs,” Walsh said. “They reflect more of who I am. As I’ve grown, it’s been evident in my own work and writing style. I touch on deeper parts and different avenues of who I am and who I like.”
Her covers album, which she dubs her “mini-project,” will be released in January.
“Part of being an artist means sometimes covering music that really moves you and speaks to you,” Walsh said. “I have songs that are fun for me to sing or showcase. It shows a different part of my voice that I haven’t been able to showcase.”
Walsh looks to unexpected idols: Lady Gaga and the Manchester, England, rock band The 1975.
“I really look up to Lady Gaga,” she said. “She’s been an inspiration to me. There’s a sense of authenticity. Her music comes from her heart. There’s something special about the Joanne album and her Super Bowl performance.
“I love Super Bowl halftimes. She works really hard. She has an incredible voice. Theatrics aside, she’s a talented lady.”
She uses the word “authentic” in describing The 1975, too.
“Their music is about them. They grow in a way that’s organic and real,” she said. “That’s something I aspire to do: make a true connection with people who listen to my music and those two, in particular, are really inspiring me as of late.”
But her eyes open wide when she talks about Barrett-Jackson.
“I’m not somebody who could build a car,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve always been an aesthetic car fan. I love looking at car bodies, especially older cars. Singing at Barrett-Jackson, I can run around and explore. I’m interested to see what they have lined up for this year.”
Besides Barrett Jackson, Laura Walsh performs at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, with D.L. Marble, Bob Corritore, Pat Roberts and The Heymakers, Whiskey Kiss and others. An $8 donation is suggested.