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Spring Snow: Warm Thoughts For Phoebe, A Singer’s Singer

Music
Phoebe Ann Laub, better known as Phoebe Snow

“….talk to me some more, you don’t have to go, you’re the poetry man, you make things all rhyme….”

Phoebe Snow is a true original and, for me, one of the very best female vocalists of the rock era.  In 1972, she was discovered by a Shelter Records A&R executive at the Bitter End on Bleecker Street in the Village.  In 1975, she released her debut single Poetry Man, which was a #5 pop hit.  Her eponymous debut album would earn her the Grammy for Best New Artist.

A singer’s singer, Phoebe’s incredibly versatile and nimble voice seemed completely organic whether she was singing folk, blues, standards or R&B.  In fact, people have always assumed she was black, but she was just a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey with curly hair and a soulful sound.

In the mid-seventies, Phoebe gave birth to  a severely handicapped daughter.  Bravely, Phoebe chose care for Valerie herself and raise her as a single mom. The resulting pressure informed her choices and affected her musical output, sometimes even keeping her out of the studio for years at a time.  Tragically, her daughter died in 2007.  Subsequently, Phoebe returned to her career with a renewed vigor and much greater visibility.

I found out just yesterday that Phoebe suffered a severe brain hemorrhage back in January.  She is only 58. (Incidentally, where was the press on this?  I mean, I sit in front of the computer all day and just found out?)  Anyway, I feel terrible, so I wanted to blog about it.  I knew Phoebe through my friend Ruby Marchand when I worked at Warner Music in the late 1980s and, during my years with Denise Rich, I would see Phoebe out and about with some frequency.  In addition to that enormous talent, she is a heymish lady, which is Yiddish and basically means she’s someone you’d like to have lunch with.  (I just reread this.  I’m turning into Cindy Adams).  I spoke to her manager yesterday who told me what I already knew, that “Phoebe is a fighter.”  It is heart breaking that some people can’t seem to catch a break.

Keep Phoebe in your thoughts and, as you do, enjoy one of my favorite early-Phoebe musical moments.  Its Phoebe and her friend, the incredible Linda Ronstadt, both at the peak of their powers, with a ferocious take on The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss) from  a 1979 episode of SNL. (Note Linda’s fierce ensemble, which could be worn exactly the same way today).  A speedy recovery to Phoebe Snow!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDk_lroqZkY]

3 Comments

  1. esarsea
    April 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm
    Reply

    RIP Phoebe.

  2. Logan Reising
    September 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm
    Reply

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