Updated: Dec 8, 2019
By Patricia Washburn
Laura Bryna has been making music for a while, but recently, she’s been making a real name for herself. And that name is “Li’l Thunder.”
Bryna, whose music has its roots in country but reaches out to embrace elements of rock and pop, is now a musical spokeswoman for the Air National Guard -- a job that includes the chance to ride in an F-16 fighter jet and get her own flight nickname (painted on the jet in pink!). The “Li’l” part makes sense -- Bryna is a tiny thing, so small they couldn’t find a G-suit to fit her, with hair that sometimes threatens to be bigger than she is! And as for “Thunder,” well, reviewers agree that there’s one powerful voice in this small package.
Bryna flies all the time – “I live in a suitcase” – but she’d never flown like this! “It was the most amazing experience of my life. I would do it a million times if I could. To be able to see the sky in 180 degrees – you feel like the Care Bears are going to jump out, the clouds are all fluffy! We did a vertical takeoff -- it was unbelievable to see the earth behind you. I totally understand why these men and women love what they do.” Her affiliation started when two Guard officers came to one of her shows and heard the song “640 Battlefield Drive,” about a mother’s feelings on sending her children off to fight. Today, she talks about the Guard members she’s met – including her F-16 pilot, “Killer” – with deep respect and affection.
But don’t get her wrong – loving her country means loving her freedom, including the freedom to break the stereotypes about what a country musician should look like.
“I’d rather fail at being myself than be something that I’m not. I love funky clothing and eye glitter. I’m like the black sheep of country music.” So whether it’s a bomber jacket or a Prada bag, she wears it her way.
The night before we talked, Bryna had appeared on The Sean Hannity Show, sandwiched in between pundits Bob Beckel and Ralph Reed. “Being in the greenroom (waiting area) was a blast. They’re just a laugh riot. They go at each other, but they’re all friends.” Politics is just one of the things Bryna wants to learn. “The advice I would give someone who wants to pursue a career in Singer Laura Bryna Learning to Fly entertainment, is that you always want to learn. When you stop learning, that’s when you need to get out. Enroll in the dance classes. I studied music business, I want to know how the business works.”
Besides touring and working on new music, Bryna is hosting her own show for True Country, interviewing top country performers. “I’ve always been the interviewee -- it’s really neat. It’s so exciting to be able to talk to my fellow country artists, and a lot of them have been interviewing me back! They’re so supportive -- that’s one thing I can say about country music. Everybody is like family.” Asked to talk about the important relationships in her life, she thinks not of a man, but of her mom. “When things get challenging, you really rely on your family and your friends. You’ve got to thank God every day for the wonderful blessings. My mom always says. ‘We’re under the same blue sky.’ My mom is my complete best friend. I’m so blessed to have such amazing parents who have supported my career. “
Learn more about Laura at laurabryna.com.