Wednesday, April 7, 2010

One Child Born

You've seen the scene a million times, a beautiful woman, sequined dress maybe, she approaches a Grand Piano with a candelabra on it. As she sits down the crowd lightly applauds, in response she nods gracefully. She positions her fingers as they hover above the keys, and as she presses down, the voice and piano become one, instantly flooding the room with sound, drowning everyone with sweet soulful music. 
Maybe that was a little grandiose, but probably not.

Laura Nyro was one of the pioneers of this so(u)lo,  singer/songwriter/pianist style. As a young girl from Da Bronx, she burst onto the heady folk scene during the 60s with a plethora of tunes that would become hits with her or without her. Before long, she was jockeying for chart position with her own songs, sung by elite artists of the time such as Frank Sinatra, The 5th Dimension, Three Dog Night and (my mom's favorite) Barbara Streisand. Her gentle demeanor mixed with her cathartic musical/poetic explosions gave liberated, hippie-intellectuals some music to really sink their teeth into. Sadly, much like her idol, Nina Simone, a combination of anxiety and some exploitative business deals (including the unfortunate distinction of being Media [Ho]Mogul David Geffen's first ripoff) lead her to step out of the spotlight. In fact she announced her retirement from the Music Business at the tender age of 24, so by her scale, I should already be getting my checks already! She would eventually stage a comeback, opening for Bob Dylan and directing her music to some social causes, including one about Native American Displacement and "Emmie," which is considered by some to be the first pop-Lesbian Love Song.

She continued her amazing career while rejecting celebrity until her untimely death in 1997 at the age of 49. Luckily, prolific EDAS Commenter/My "Rock'N'Roll Jewish Mother" (His words, not mine. Personally I think 1 is enough already) Louis Greenstein and his creative partner, Kate Ferber have written a one-woman show about the amazing Ms. Nyro. Working in close association with the Nyro Estate as well as friends and peers who knew her intimately, Louis and Kate have put together One Child Born: The Music of Laura Nyro, which has already sold out Joe's Pub here in New York and is about do the same on Thursday and Friday night (4/8 & 4/9) at the World Live Cafe in Philadelphia, PA. I believe tickets are still available, so click here if you will be in the area, I will be, because I love the music and legacy of this under-appreciated yet quintessential American Songwriter... Also because Louis says I can't have any dessert until I see his show. Expect a full review, no punches pulled after I return from Philly. In the meantime... Listen to Laura.

Song #124: Laura Nyro - Eli's Comin

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