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18 October 1947
The Bronx, New York, New York, United States
8 April 1997 (aged 49)
Laura Nyro (born Laura Nigro) (October 18, 1947 – April 8, 1994) was an American songwriter and singer, one of the most influential musicians to emerge in the 1960s.
She directly influenced singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Todd Rundgren, Carly Simon, Phoebe Snow, and Rickie Lee Jones, among many others. Nyro’s style was a distinctive hybrid of Brill Building-style New York pop, mixed with elements of jazz, folk, rhythm and blues, and rock. Her lyrics were sophisticated, first as a reflection of youth angst in her initial period (1966-1971) with later works concentrating on animal-rights issues, motherhood, and a growing concern for the human condition. She possessed a voice which could register tenderness, rage, and playfulness with equal ability and had an instinctive sense of song arrangement and vocal arrangement skills. This revealed itself not only in her own material, but in her recordings of, as she called them, “the teenage heartbeat songs of my youth” and the occasional pop standard. These songs were interpreted by Nyro with her distinctive chord changes and vocal arrangements (she generally multi-tracked her own harmonies in the studio and later added live harmony singers in concert).
Born in the The Bronx, New York, of Italian-American and Jewish-American parents, Nyro was best known by the general public – and had the most commercial success – as a songwriter rather than a performer. Her best-known songs include "And When I Die" (made a hit by Blood, Sweat & Tears), "Stoney End" (covered by Barbra Streisand), "Wedding Bell Blues," "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Sweet Blindness," "Save the Country" (all covered by the Fifth Dimension), and "Eli's Coming" (a hit for Three Dog Night). Ironically, Nyro's own best-selling single was a cover of Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Up on the Roof."
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