Gwen Laster is a nationally acclaimed musician who has been the recipient of awards by the National Endowment for the Arts, Jubilation Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Arts Mid Hudson, Lila Wallace, and the Cognac Hennessey 1st place Jazz Search. She's a native Detroiter whose creative influences come from the Motor City's exciting urban and classical music culture. Gwen started improvising and composing because of her parents love of jazz, blues, soul and classical music and her inspiring music teachers from Detroit's public schools.
Laster relocated to NYC after earning two music degrees from the University of Michigan. She began collaborating, performing and recording with internationally-known creative and commercial artists that include Anthony Braxton, Nona Hendryx, Aretha Franklin, Wadada Leo Smith, William Parker, Danny Elfman, Sun Ra Arkestra, Tyler, the Creator, Gladys Knight, Emeline Michel, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Alicia Keys, Rhianna, Shaggy, Andrew Baba Lamb, Natalie Cole, Solange, Mark Anthony, J Lo and Shakira at President Obama’s Inaugural Neighborhood Ball. Playing local jazz clubs and subbing Broadway shows (Miss Saigon, Beauty and the Beast, Carousel, Wicked, Porgy and Bess, The King and I) were woven around Gwen's NYC performing and teaching rhythm.
With this momentum, Laster began leading original music ensembles, orchestrating and composing string arrangements.