Profile: Laura Quinlan


PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY YOU SHOULD KNOW: Laura Quinlan – Rhythm Foundation

Who are you?
I am a Miami Beach native, mother of three amazing young people, concert presenter.

What do you do in real life?
I am executive director of The Rhythm Foundation, a non-profit cultural organization that presents the best World Music artists to South Florida audiences.  We are the leading presenters of World Music in the region, with more than 450 concerts and festivals since we began in 1988.

How long have you been working music in Miami Beach?
I started working at the legendary rock venue Cameo Theater in South Beach just after I finished school in the late 80s.  My now-husband James hired me to be the promotions director when I approached him with a film series idea.  The Rhythm Foundation grew out the Cameo concerts, with the desire to add a cultural aspect to the work being done there and to take part in the renaissance of Miami Beach as an arts and entertainment mecca.  I love working at Miami Beach venues – the Fillmore, the Colony Theater, the North Beach Bandshell!

What do you like most about what you do?
I do a little bit of everything and I enjoy all parts of it!  I love the big picture stuff like being in touch with artists and colleagues around the world, putting together a season, working on exciting marketing campaigns.  I love physically selling tickets and flyering little shops.  I even love doing bulk mailing.  But the best part of all is actually being at a successful show, enjoying something special together with a sold-out crowd, knowing that we have brought something memorable to life.

How do you choose the bands that play for the Rhythm Foundation?
We don’t work with a set calendar or venue, so I have a lot of flexibility in what we present.  The calendar is a well-rounded blend of established World Music legends, traditional rhythms, groove music, and emerging young artists working in new genres.  A “Rhythm Foundation” show is one that we are really excited about, and that we know our audience will share that passion.

What are you doing to shake up the Miami Music Scene?
It’s a lot of work to run an independent cultural organization for all these years.  I am happy to be surviving and thriving – maybe shake up will come next.

What excites you musically?
My personal cup of tea is pretty diverse.  I love the fusion that some artists make from combining electronica with world music rhythms.  There are some amazing bands based here in Miami, with our own specific Latin funk-dub mix Miami sound, that are among the best I have heard anywhere.  If you look back at the Rhythm Foundation schedule, you might guess my personal favorite musics include Brazilian, dub reggae, Afrobeat, Colombian, Indian and French pop.  And you would be right!

How would you describe your personal style?
It’s hard being a middle-aged fashion fiend, to look cool but also age appropriate.  I am lucky to have a teenage daughter and a best-friend fashion designer, who give me the “no way” face enough that I know the difference between nice and terrible.  I guess my personal style is kind of a J Crew meets goth in comfortable shoes.

What do you do now, that you did not do 5 years ago?
Now my kids are older, I finally have more time for myself and my friends.  I am in a book club and a music club, and I even just started doing yoga!  Spending time with friends is important.

Something new, that you have just discovered about yourself?
I try to keep my eyes, ears and mind open all the time, keep learning new things every day.

What are your guilty pleasures?
I am hopelessly hooked on Mad Men.  I spend way too much time thinking about that amazing show.

One luxury that you cannot live without?
Only one?  Impossible to choose.  But I could live without anything except my family.

Three Words to describe you?
Work In Progress


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