Boston-based vocalist and bass player Laura Burns has spent much of her career exploring multicultural traditions. While she performed contemporary American folk songs in a duo with guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Roger Rosen from 1978 until 1987, she ventured into a much different musical tradition as a member of the pan-Latin folk band Flor de Cana from 1983 to 1994. Since the breakup of the group, Burns has continued to take a multi-lingual approach to music in an occasional duo that she shares with Flor de Cana saxophonist and guitarist Willie Sordillo.
Although she listened to Peter, Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio as a child, Burns became inspired after attending a concert by singer/songwriter and political activist Holly Near. Moving to Boston to attend Harvard University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in general studies, she became involved with the politically tinged band Swing Shift, for whom she played drums and sang. Switching to electric bass, she performed with a variety of local bands, one of which featured Rosen. When the group disbanded, she and Rosen formed a duo. Their sole album, Light This Night, was released in 1985.
A three-week arts-exchange trip to Nicaragua organized by Arts For a New Nicaragua in 1984 introduced Burns to similar-minded musicians: Rosemary Straijer-Amador, Brian Folkins-Amador, and Sordillo. When they returned to Boston, together with Sue Kalt, they agreed to continue performing together as Flor De Cana. Although not all of the musicians had a natural connection to Latin America, they successfully used the traditional music to create their own dance-inspiring sound. In addition to a self-produced cassette, Sing to Me Nicaragua, Burns and the group recorded two albums -- Move It in 1988 and Dancing on the Wall in 1991.