Tuesday, March 9, 2010
HerStory: Laura Nyro
How many singer-songwriters can count a diverse group of artists including Frank Sinatra, Jenny Lewis, Kanye West and Sir Elton John as fans? The unapologetic yet humble, Bronx born Laura Nyro can count those artists and many more among the people influenced by the music she wrote. Laura wrote songs such as Wedding Bell Blues for The 5th Dimension, and recorded Carole King and Gerry Coffin's Up on the Roof.
Nyro (born Laura Nigro) was a Music & Art alum who sang a capella on New York City streets and in subways with groups of friends. She grew up on the sounds of Nina Simone and the girl groups of her day; The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas and The Shirelles which helped to re-enforce her independent spirit. As a teenager she was signed by music executive Artie Mogull. In the late 60s legendary music executive David Geffen encouraged Nyro to sue for the right to break her contracts with Artie Mogull. Through her collaboration with Geffen they formed a publishing company called Tuna Fish Music. Her new recording contract with Clive Davis gave her more artisitc freedom. Nyro's music was a combination of pop, gospel, R & B, jazz, rock and other elements. Throughout Nyro's career she shied away from the spotlight. Any attempts to paint her a celebrity was met with great opposition. Later in life she was pursued by major television shows; however, she elected not to appear on screen.
Laura Nyro kissed a girl before Jill Sobule and Katy Perry -- the last 17 years of her life were spent with painter Maria Desiderio. Previously she was married to a man. Nyro succumbed to ovarian cancer at the age of 49.