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Laura Nyro

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New York, United States (1966 – 1997)

Laura Nyro (born October 18, 1947; died April 8, 1997) was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist. She achieved critical acclaim with her own recordings, particularly the albums Eli And The Thirteenth Confession (1968) and New York Tendaberry (1969), and had commercial success with artists such as Barbra Streisand and The 5th Dimension recording her songs. Her style was a hybrid of Brill Building-style New York pop, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, show tunes, rock and soul. In 2012 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

She was born Laura Nigro on 18th October 1947 in the Bronx, New York, of Italian-American and Jewish-American parents. As a child, she taught herself piano, read poetry, and listened to her mother’s records by Leontyne Price, Billie Holiday and classical composers such as Ravel and Debussy. She composed her first songs at age eight. While in high school, she sang with a group of friends in subway stations and on street corners.

As a teenager she experimented with using different names, and Nyro was the one she was using at the time. She sold her song “And When I Die” to Peter, Paul and Mary for $5,000, and made her first extended professional appearance in 1966, at age 18, singing at the “hungry i” coffeehouse in San Francisco. Mogull negotiated her a recording contract, and she recorded her debut album, More Than a New Discovery, for the Verve Folkways label. The album provided material for other artists, notably the 5th Dimension.

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