The road to becoming a recording artist is as varied as music itself. From childhood prodigies to those who fall into their passions late in life out of sheer luck, perfect timing, or simple perseverance, every person who develops a love for her/his instrument has a unique pathway, a journey that can begin at any point along the continuum which is their lifeline. For pianist Laima Gaizutis, the trip to music began with a literal voyage—a seafaring one at that.
Laima’s parents were refugees, leaving their native Lithuania and making their way to a safe landing in Cleveland, Ohio where her father’s sponsor had found him a job as a baker/delivery man. While her father toiled long hours (his workday began at 4 am), Laima’s mother stayed home and cared for Laima and her two siblings. Laima was the oldest and picked up the English language quickly, which served her as she became the family “problem solver.” The house they moved into had an old piano and, since her parents had always wanted to learn the instrument but circumstances no longer allowed for it, Laima was the “chosen one.” By the age of six, she was already studying with Andrius Kuprevicius at the Cleveland Music School Settlement. Laima was a quick study and made her local TV debut at 9 years old on a talent show. From there, her passion for and dedication to the piano blossomed. “Though times were tough, my parents always found a way to pay for the music lessons. I would have an hour of piano, an hour of theory and another hour of music appreciation class weekly. On Saturdays, I was the pianist for the modern dance classes and by the time I was a senior in high school I was invited to be a piano teacher at the Settlement!” Her talent grew in demand. “I was the pianist at all of the functions at Notre Dame Academy [high school]. There were many Lithuanian functions where I performed solo or accompanied various groups/singers. I loved being so busy and it made my life so interesting…I just kept doing what I enjoyed most.” All this experience paid off with Laima’s first place wins in piano competitions in Cleveland and Chicago. After high school, she attended the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY) and earned a Bachelor of Music.
After college, Laima got married, moved to Houston, Texas, where she raised two boys and taught piano (which she does to this day!). 1990 was when her world view of music expanded to a degree that even she could not have imagined. Her husband gave her a digital piano for a Christmas present (the family already owned a Baldwin grand, but the digital piano allowed her to record melodies as she played them). The floodgates opened! As Laima recounts, “That was the year the composer in me emerged. I was hearing music in my sleep and was jumping out of bed to write it down before I’d lose the melody. I would have to stop whatever I was doing so I could notate it. And so it began… I worked alone and also collaborated with various songwriters, which resulted in a bountiful collection of melodies and songs in multiple genres.” She started composing her own songs, driven by enthusiasm, passion, and ambition that sprung forth from her like a newly-tapped mountain spring. This pivotal point has brought her to where she is today.
Laima has won numerous local and national Billboards awards. Her instrumental melodies have been featured on television and she was featured in a production at the Little Reno Theater and was the composer/pianist for Stuart Ostrow’s musical theater workshop at the University of Houston’s School of Theater. She counts two-time Latin Grammy nominee, Luz Rios, as a collaborator and friend. Her latest transition to recording artist happened in 2013. “…I knew it was time to share [my music]…after all, why write if not to be heard? Each track of Simply Beautiful Collection I [and now, Volume II] has its own mood and instrumentation. I enjoyed varying the rhythms and the extra piano melody lines. I hope fans will listen with closed eyes and be swept away by these music gems.”
Embodying more energy and enthusiasm than many artists half her age, Laima’s voyage is far from over (does anyone’s ever really end?), yet she has reached a level of fulfillment that fills her heart with joy. “There is nothing finer than being in the music business and working with…talented people. I’ve already done all of those ‘instead’ things and they were not as much fun or interesting as music.” Looking to the future, Laima Gaizutis continues to discover “herself” and is poised to show the world the musical magic which is within her artist’s soul.