woman playing guitar
Jun 26, 2023
Daily Inter Lake

Musician Returns to the Stage to Play

By Summer Zalesky

The beauty of Northwest Montana mixed with its vibrant music scene gave Laurie Berg the confidence she needed to step on a stage again for the first time since she was a child.

“I always sang when I was a kid,” said Berg. “I was in choir in middle school and in high school and I would record myself singing and post it on social media. But somewhere down the line, I got scared and stopped posting and singing publicly.”

When Berg moved to West Glacier for an Americorp position in the summer of 2021, she was introduced to the open mic scene. She met David Crismore, Katie Rose, and other local musicians who encouraged her to sing at an open mic night. After her first performance, her love of music helped her overcome her fear and she became devoted to playing music under the name “Laurie Anne.”

“It really came down to being in the right environment with a thriving music scene and then meeting people who were musicians that I became really good friends with and who are really supportive to new musicians in the valley,” said Berg. “Everybody is here to see each other grow and be successful.”

Despite having little technical knowledge of music, Berg, 26, has taught herself how to play guitar after learning that to be able to book gigs she needed to have an instrument to accompany herself.

Since then, Berg has taken up several gigs and continues to perform at restaurants, breweries, wineries, and events. Adele, Dido, James Bay, and Christian French are a few artists Laurie Anne covers, as well as performing some original songs.

“The emotion and relatability that I hear in music is what draws me to songs and you can hear that in the kind of songs I like to sing,” said Berg. “I sing mostly soft pop which is a style and a genre that not many people in Montana are out singing. It’s awesome, but it's just so different from what's here. I think that can add a layer of scariness.”

Somewhere between her full-time job as an academic advisor at Flathead Valley Community College and part-time job working at Target, Berg finds time to hone her skills, write new songs, and perform. A seemingly impossible feat, Berg said she prioritizes her exploration of music through “a lot of late nights.”

“Sometimes I have to go to work, but I want to play a song, so I’ll sit down and play it a couple times. Then I have to put it down and run, but at least I get to do it for a couple minutes,” Berg continued. “I have to miss open mic night a lot because of work. But when I'm not working, I take that opportunity as much as I can because of how much I love playing.”

Berg dreams of one day recording her own album to showcase her original songs. So far, she has written six and has a couple more in the works.

“Most of my inspiration has come from the time I've been in Montana,” said Berg. “‘Letter to Me’ is a song that’s a love letter to myself and talks about the growth that I've done in Montana. One of my songs is about a heartbreak and another is a story that was inspired by someone who made me feel very loved. When I'm deep in those emotions is when I can sit down, write, and basically pour out my heart.”

Growing up in Indiana, Berg’s mom worked in the school system and her dad worked for an insulation company but played in bands when she and her two brothers were young.

“He’s back at it now and playing gigs back in Indiana,” she said. “My dad is where I consider I get my music from, and I’m so happy we can share this together.”

Even though there was music in the family, Berg said she hadn’t heard of open mic nights until moving to Montana. Now thanks to the Flathead’s music culture and its encouraging local musicians, Berg hopes to continue sharing her voice with the world.

“One time a woman told me that my voice was like a breath of fresh air and that was so beautiful to hear,” said Berg. “I feel like a breath of fresh air is something someone needs when the world is just too much at the moment. To be able to give that to someone, by just doing what I love is really special.”

To listen to Berg or watch her next gig, visit her Instagram @laurieannemusic or her Facebook page.