Branigan was born Laura Ann Branigan, in July 3, 1952 in Brewster, in the state of New York, and very early she never hesitated to display her musical inclinations. From the onset of her life, she was determined to pursue a musical career. In the early seventies, Branigan joined with some musicians she had met, to form a band called Meadow, which would be a frustrating experience. They worked on a record, and eventually released an album called The Friend Ship, from which two singles emerged. Despite being in her early twenties, Branigan already could be properly qualified as a discreet, but effervescent talent. Nevertheless, the band doesn't achieved any degree of success, and almost immediately the group disbanded. Soon afterwards, one of the main songwriters — guitarist Walker Daniels — killed himself. After she became famous, Branigan refused to discuss her involvement with Meadow, or to debate any topic related to this period of her career.
When the band was over, Branigan worked in all types of jobs to support herself. Eventually, though, she managed to find occupations within the music business, and was hired to work for a period of months as a backup singer for Leonard Cohen, in his 1976 European tour.
Unfortunately, the seventies came, but for the most part of the decade, a career as a singer never materialized, doesn't matter how hard she tried. Soon, Branigan would be entering her thirties, and was still fighting for a place on the spotlight, trying severely to break into the music business, but she was apparently going nowhere. Her fortunes changed, though, when she met by chance in 1979 renowned talent manager and music promoter Sidney Bernstein. Therefore, she managed to get a contract deal to Atlantic Records.
Unfortunately, things would remain complicated for some years. Branigan first recorded an album — titled Silver Dreams — that would never be released, though the record produced three singles and a B-side, that resulted in moderate commercial success. These four songs would be commercially released only more than three decades later, as bonus tracks on an American reissue of the singer's first album. Unable to market her properly, the record company didn't knew how to make Branigan a commercial standout, so she remained frozen for a few more years, until she was finally given another opportunity. In 1982, her first full length album, simply titled Branigan, was finally released. In a few months, she would be turning thirty years old. At this point, she felt she was finally going somewhere in her life.
Branigan proved to be a moderate success, and produced two singles, All Night with Me and Gloria — a cover version of Italian singer Umberto Tozzi — that, besides being remembered today with nostalgia, became one of the most recognizable of Laura Branigan's career.
In the wake of her newfound fame, the record company decided to keep investing in the singer's career. Branigan 2 was released in March 1983, precisely one year after her debut album. The strenght of the album was an English-language version of a French song, called Solitaire, originally written by Martine Clémenceau. The lyrics for the English version were provided by Diane Warren, who at the time was working as an employee of the Branigan team. Below, you can see the video for Solitaire, and feel the sentimental and sensible beauty of the music, although it may be necessary to ignore its atmosphere, saturated with excessively melodramatic and romantic tenderness, qualities that were a typical commonplace in the music business for that time period.
Another single from the album was the ballad How Am I Supposed to Live Without You, a song written by Michael Bolton and Doug James. A music video was not provided to back the hit. Despite the lack of a music video, several performances by Branigan were recorded while performing this song, though its not always possible to know if she was indeed singing, or just lip-synching, since she frequently appeared in staged television productions, though the one selected below clearly features a live performance.
How Am I Supposed to Live Without You proved to be so popular with audiences, that eventually — after some years —, Michael Bolton himself decided to record his own version of the song. The single became a worldwide hit, achieving the number one spot in the Billboard list of Hot 100 number-one singles of 1990.
Below, you can see the original music video for Self Control, made to promote the single.
In the following year, 1985, Branigan released Hold Me, another album that was destined to be a success — though not matched by its predecessor —, and provided four singles: Spanish Eddie, Maybe Tonight, Hold Me and I Found Someone. This album also displays a version of Forever Young, the famous hit by then emerging German synthpop group Alphaville. Below, you can see a live version of this marvelous song, in the unforgettable and gracious voice of Laura Branigan.
After Hold me, Branigan stopped recording and releasing one album a year. Despite her unimaginable degree of success, the singer would release only three more records: Touch, in 1987, Laura Branigan, in 1990 and Over My Heart, in 1993, after which she would retire.
Touch was only moderately received, and doesn't achieved the same level of success of its predecessors. Featuring a great amount of technical personnel and studio musicians, on this album, Branigan — being way more proactive —, also took the role of producer, having acquired a respectable degree of creative independence, being free to modulate tracks according to her personal musical sensibilities. The album produced three singles: Shattered Glass, Cry Wolf and Power of Love.
In 1990, the singer released her sixth studio album, whose title simply carried her name, Laura Branigan. The reception to this work was warm at best; it was barely perceived in general by the mainstream. The album generated only two singles. Nevertheless, despite the moderate repercussion, the singles — Moonlight on Water and Never in a Million Years — definitely placed her on a high spot in the dance scene, and she managed to score the club and disco charts. Only one music video was provided to promote the album. The team of professional musicians that worked on the record was even larger than the predecessor. Renowned individuals were listed in the credits. Jeff Porcaro, of Toto fame, worked as a session musician, having recorded drums for the track nº 5, Let Me In.
In 1993, Laura Branigan released her final studio album, Over My Heart. She also worked behind the scenes as a producer. The album generated three singles — Didn't We Almost Win It All, It's Been Hard Enough Getting Over You and How Can I Help You to Say Goodbye — and, to a certain extent, was a moderately simple swan song, that did not fulfilled major expectations. AllMusic gave only two stars out of five, to the release.
After the release of Over My Heart, Branigan's husband Larry Kruteck —with whom she was married for fifteen years, since 1978 — was diagnosed with cancer. So the singer decided to retire, to fully dedicate herself to care for her husband, and to help him undergo the medical treatment. Unfortunately, in June 1996, Kruteck passed away.
Branigan was also an amateur actress. She has participated in two movies in the eighties, and has done some television work, though she was mostly featured as herself. In 2002, she accepted the role of Janis Joplin in a Off-Broadway musical, titled Love, Janis. Branigan left the show after two performances, though, saying that the decision behind her dropping the project was mainly due to the producers refusing to comply with the requirements demanded by Equity, the theater actors labor union.
Branigan, despite the fact that she was not reclusive, wasn't a very public person either. She lived quietly and discreetly for the rest of her life, before dying of a brain aneurysm, in August, 2004, at the relatively young age of fifty-two years old.
As a consequence of all this work, Laura Branigan's legacy will be far from being forgotten. More recently, St. Louis ice hockey team St. Louis Blues began using Branigan's version of Gloria as an unofficial anthem. A team that until not long ago held some of the worst records in the hockey league, they have been gradually improving, and eventually, they successfully became a favorite in the tournament's most recent season. The company team that manages Laura Branigan's legacy has deeply appreciated the initiative, and has since been publishing on their various online media outlets — like the singer's official website and Twitter page — enthusiastic support for the St. Louis Blues.
Laura Branigan was undoubtedly a fabulous singer, that made the world a more colorful, vibrant and vivacious place, with her profoundly graceful, astonishing and remarkable voice. A delicate spirit — whose strength relied on her innocent and splendid sensibility —, her majestic talent and her sincere devotion to the essence of life certainly lives in her music, that will be played, sung and remembered for generations to come.