Like so many other jazz musicians, composer, lyricist, and vocalist Lauren Hooker spent much of her career actively teaching others the nuances of jazz singing and jazz composition. It took some time, but in 2007 she finally released her long-awaited debut album, Right Where I Belong, with jazz veterans like bassist Rufus Reid, pianist Allen Farnham, and drummer Tim Horner accompanying her. Hooker's debut includes her originals, some standards, and her originals set to music by Monk, Mingus, Wayne Shorter, Fats Waller, and Mal Waldron.
Hooker came on to the jazz scene in New York and northern New Jersey -- where many of the stars of New York City's scene actually live -- in the early '80s, after she graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a degree in music education. Hooker continued post-graduate work at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, with pianist Kenny Barron and studied jazz vocals with Sheila Jordan at the Manhattan School of Music.
Hooker began playing piano as a four-year-old and took her inspiration from her father, Louis Hooker, a conductor, jazz educator, and musician who also taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Her father often hosted rehearsals and jam sessions in the basement of their home and the young Hooker met pianist Bill Evans on one of his engagements at The Village Vanguard. Hooker states in her biography accompanying Right Where I Belong that, given her father's distinguished career as a jazz educator and conductor, "I was not only encouraged, but expected to be a musician, and a well-rounded one at that; one who could compose, play, sing, arrange and educate."
Through the years, Hooker has performed and recorded with a short who's who of jazz people: Dena DeRose, Bob DeVos, Vic Juris, Rufus Reid, Steve Nelson, Bobby Watson, and Reggie Workman, among others, who mostly frequent the Manhattan and northern New Jersey club corridor.
Hooker has performed at all the major jazz venues in Manhattan and northern New Jersey over the course of three decades, and has performed at the International Women in Jazz Festival at St. Peter's Church in New York City. Her multimedia show Jazz Expressions, combining original music, dance, poetry, and photography, was premiered in 1997 at the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck, NJ with bassist Calvin Hill and pianist Tomoko Ohno.