Laura Nyro Dead At 49

Cover art for 1993's Walk the Dog & Light the Light.

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

was 49.

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.

A

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

missed.