Celebrated songstress Laura Nyro has died. The writer of numerous
hits in the 1960s and 1970s including "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Stoney End,"
"Eli's Comin', " and "Wedding Bell Blues," passed away Tuesday (April 8) at her
home in Danbury Connecticut. Nyro had been bravely fighting ovarian cancer. She
One of the more significant female artists of her time, the
Bronx-born musician recorded her first album in at the age of 19 and enjoyed
incredible songwriting success with performers like the Fifth Dimension,
Barbara Streisand and Blood, Sweat and Tears. An uncompromising recording
artist, Laura Nyro was considered by some to be in the same musical league as
Carole King and Joni Mitchell, songwriters who went on to become stars
performing their own material. Nyro's incredible pop constructions were the
unbridled synthesis of rock 'n' roll, folk, R&B, gospel, soul, doo-wop, Motown,
Broadway and jazz.
A distinctive singer who sometimes pushed her voice
well beyond it's limits, Nyro was not always critically lauded. In 1967, she
was ceremoniously booed at the Monterey Pop Festival. Her early albums recorded
for Columbia Records are generally regarded as her finest and it would be
difficult to pick only one as her definitive work. Those records, Eli and
the Thirteenth Confession, New York Tendaberry, Christmas and the
Beads of Sweat, and Gonna Take A Miracle, each display a different
aspect of her dynamic talent and were all released before she retired
(temporarily) at the age of twenty-four.
Nyro made only six more albums
between 1977 and 1993 while themes of motherhood, failed romance, feminism and
animal rights gently crept into her music. A two-disc compilation titled
Stone Soul Picnic: The Best Of Laura Nyro was released earlier this year
on Columbia/Legacy and showcases each stage of her varied career. A tribute
album for Nyro has also been in the works for some time and will be released
this summer on Profile Records. Artists slated to appear on the tribute will
include Rickie Lee Jones, Jane Siberry, Lucinda Williams, Terri Roche, Patty
Larkin, Suzanne Vega, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and a number of others.
gifted and evocative artist, Laura Nyro's music touched the hearts of many. Her
pervasive influence has yet to be fully measured and she will be sorely