By Frank Mustac, Special Writer
HOPEWELL TWP. — The soulful voice of Lauren Marsh, a captivating singer-songwriter from the heart of Hopewell Valley, reached a national television audience recently.
In late February, the CBS drama “NCIS: New Orleans” featured her original song “Dear Love” during the ending scene of an episode of the hit TV show. The episode is titled “Second Chances.”
“I can’t believe they gave my song a full two minutes,” said Ms. Marsh, a 2010 graduate of Hopewell Valley Central High School. “I’m so honored and excited.”
The song “Dear Love” is from the 24-year-old artist’s EP titled “Veracity” released on Jan. 22.
Ms. Marsh, who also plays ukulele and keyboards, has another milestone date coming up on Saturday, April 9, when she will perform at The Bitter End, the famed rock venue in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
“They actually contacted me and offered me a weekend date,” said Ms. Marsh, who still lives in Hopewell Township. “The fact that they just reached out on their own and asked me to come play is something I’m just really honored and thrilled and really excited about.”
For her live gigs, the award-winning artist usually performs with bass player Mike Klemash and either Sean Cahill or Chris Badami on drums.
Mr. Badami, who runs Portrait Recording Studios in Pompton Plains, is also the producer of all three of Ms. Marsh’s professional recordings. He is known for working with artists like Madonna, Hayley Williams of Paramore, as well as others.
Ms. Marsh’s 2012 debut recording titled “Ready for Kickoff” was honored with the Jersey Acoustic Music Award for Top Indie EP Release in 2013. Her second EP “The Incurable Heart” was released in September 2014.
The young singer began professionally recording and performing while still a college student at William Paterson University in Wayne, where she graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in pop music studies.
This year and last, she has traveled far and wide for tour dates.
“I tour a lot regionally. I’ve been out to Pittsburgh. This past Friday I was in Rochester, N.Y., for a gig,” she said.
In 2015, Ms. Marsh and her band performed at the 2015 RedGorilla Music Festival in Austin, Texas, at the same time the South by Southwest music conference was in full swing in the same city. Her original song “Ledge” was selected out of 400-plus submissions for the 15-song 2015 RedGorilla Compilation CD that was distributed to 25,000 people.
She was also selected for spotlight performances at music festivals like Millennium Music Conference in Pennsylvania; Singer-Songwriter Cape May; Jersey Shore Music Festival; and the Communiversity Arts Fest in Princeton.
Mr. Marsh’s music has made it into films, as well, including her song “Stranger” featured in the 2014 indie movie “Blood Empires.”
Much the successes she has garnered so far she attributes to the place where she grew up, and to family and friends.
Possessed in high school with a desire to become jazz vocalist, Ms. Marsh credits two instructors at Hopewell Valley Central — Peter Griffin and Brian Winnie — with helping her develop her musical talents.
Mr. Griffin is the current supervisor of visual and performing arts in the regional school district, while Mr. Winnie is the former choral director at Hopewell Valley Central.
“They were just so supportive,” Ms. Marsh said. “I was just given a lot of time in different courses to be able to really find out where my heart was leading me with music in general.”
She also acknowledged the people at Patriots Crossing restaurant in Titusville for letting her perform her original songs there.
“I could play them and figure them out and hear what people thought about them,” she said. “It is still somewhere that I go. It feels like home.”
Perhaps the greatest champions of her musical career are the people she lives with — her family.
“My family is extremely supportive of me,” Ms. Marsh said. “They’ve never doubted my abilities and they’re always there for me 100 percent of the time.”
By Frank Mustac, Special Writer