Artist of the week, local singer and songwriter Lareé Gibson finds her purpose in life in performing for others, especially for veterans groups, guide dog organizations and other groups who serve the greater good. Her mantra is, “Every day is a gift.”
Photo courtesy Lareé Gibson

“I have a message in my music,” said singer/songwriter and Idyllwild resident Lareé Gibson. “It is, ‘Live for today. Every day is a gift.’”

Gibson’s life has unfolded like a wave — with her life and career being carried literally from sea to mountain with music as the vehicle.

Born in Long Beach into a musical family in which her father and two brothers played trumpet and everyone sang, Lareé remembers also wanting to play trumpet. She was 3 and already singing. At 12, she taught herself how to play piano, now her principal instrument of choice.

“The summer I was 12, my parents bought a Kawai piano for me,” she said. “I spent the entire summer on the piano bench at the keyboard. At 14, I played and sang for the first time in public, at a school concert. I sang and played ‘Both Sides Now,’ a Judy Collins’ hit. At 17, I played my first professional gig, a wedding where I played and sang ‘We’ve Only Just Begun.’”

As many did, Laree played clubs in the evening, composed in her free time, recorded and submitted demos, and worked full-time day jobs to pay the bills.

In 1999, a severe car crash changed the course of Lareé’s life. She required neck surgery, and months of recuperation and rehabilitation. “During that time, I focused on my life’s purpose, music. The accident drove home the point that I needed to continue to compose, sing and play. I felt as if I had been given a second chance and began to do more volunteer work, performing for and working on behalf of veterans.

“Soon after, I began playing and singing on cruise ships — Holland America and P&O Cruises.” The nine-year, ocean-based career afforded Lareé the opportunity to see much of the world. “I met people from all over the world and came to understand that we are all the same, basically. We all want to be acknowledged — to tell our stories to others and hear theirs in return.

In October 2015, Lareé and husband Bryan Whitley Goodhead bought a home in Idyllwild, completing her transition from sea to Hill. “We fought hard to be here; our escrow was difficult,” she recalled. “Those of us who are here and stay have all come together in this place for a purpose. We have chosen and we are chosen. Idyllwild seems so open and authentic. We are thrilled to be here.

“Nothing thrills me more than to develop original music and to collaborate with others.”

Lareé gigs in Palm Springs, plays regularly at Mile High Café and collaborates with other Idyllwild musicians on their original music. “We are so happy to be here,” she said.