I am a self-proclaimed FanGirl of most music and am especially impressed by multi-talented individuals.  Pair that talent with the courage to follow your dreams and you have just described Laka (pronounced Lay-ka), a Saint Louis based soul singer and actress. 

Her most recent performance was the starring role in St. Louis Woman – a one woman show written and directed by Joe Hanrahan – bringing seven legendary women to life on stage! Laka performs the tunes, moves and poetry of Josephine Baker, Tina Turner, Willie Mae Ford Smith, Katherine Dunham, Fontella Bass, Ann Peebles, and Maya Angelou.

We are so fortunate to have Laka featured in Volume 5 of The Scout Guide.  Laka is pictured alongside Joseph Magsaysay, notable Saint Louis mover in lifestyle, real estate and music. 

 I was able to grab a bit of Laka’s time in between gigs to answer a few burning questions:

 TSG: With so many talents, how do you introduce yourself?

 LAKA:  I am Laka. A singer-songwriter, actress by night and dietitian by day : )  I sing a variety of genres – jazz, blues, pop, country, soul, etc and recently starred in a play called St. Louis Woman.  I got started in the entertainment world by singing in open mics several years ago. I later applied for a position as a house singer in a lounge restaurant called Stur. I marketed my music on social media and networked at events, leading me to met other artists to collaborate with.

 TSG:  Are you a native Saint Louisan?

 LAKA:  I’m originally from Cape Girardeau, MO. Small town girl – living in the big St. Louis city…I mean county.

 TSG:  That’s great – most of the greatest Saint Louisan’s are transplants!  What are some of your favorite Saint Louis spots?

 LAKA:  I love the St. Louis cultural institutions from all the museums in Forest Park to all the venues in Grand Center including the Jazz St. Louis, Fox Theatre, Powell Hall and the Big Top. St. Louis is an arts town. 

 TSG:  You have accomplished a lot this last year, how to you plan to top 2022?

 LAKA:  My goal for 2023 personally is to continue healthy routines that keep me grounded and fit. It’s boring, but necessary to do all that I want to do professionally. My big career goal is completing my first album by the end of the year. 

 TSG:  Obviously you have had a lot of great experiences as an artist, do you have one that stands out?

 LAKA:  My favorite project so far was my one woman show where I portrayed the iconic female entertainers who have lived in St. Louis including Josephine Baker, Tina Turner, Katherine Dunham, and Maya Angelou. The play ran for 3 weeks at the Dot.Zack theatre and really stretched me as an entertainer with acting, dancing, and singing. I was so passionate about the talent and grit of the women I portrayed. It was a life changing experience for me to share their stories and art with audiences night after night. 

 TSG:  Do you have a dream project?

 LAKA:  My dream project would be either writing my next play or starring/co-staring in a feature film. Also, any project or effort that elevates the St. Louis arts scene is dear to my heart.

 TSG:  Saint Louis boasts some of the best artists and musicians, do you have any favorites?

 LAKA:  I’m obsessed with Keyon Harrold, One Way Traffic, Dirty Muggs, Tef Poe, BlvckSpvde, Daemon, Marquise Knox, Denise Thimes and others locally. There are so many great artists based in St. Louis and I try to get out to see live music as much as I can. 

TSG:  Most people forget that artists/performers are people too – what do you like to do in your free time?

 LAKA:  In my free time besides seeing live music, you can find me

a.     Shaking hands with politicians at the Governors Ball in Jeff City

b.     Reorganizing my closet for the millionth time

c.      Shaking a tailfeather in dance classes

d.     Pushing past mental limits in Pure Barre

e.     Immersing myself in nature on a new hiking path

f.      Traveling to a small mountain town for skiing

g.     Listening to ADHD podcasts

h.     Enjoying the best fine dining and NA cocktails St. Louis has to offer while pretending I’m a food blogger at Bulrush…

i.       Taking in an exhibit or artist talk at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation

j.       Regretting not being a ballerina whenever I see a St. Louis Ballet performance at the Touhill

THANK YOU LAKA!  I can’t wait to see what’s next in your career!