Singer-songwriters Lend Folksy Touch to Free Pier Concert
By Lookout Staff
July 28 -- It'll be a homecoming for singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega when the native Santa Monican takes the stage Thursday night at the free Twilight Dance Series concert on the pier.
After being rejected by every major record label, Vega became a star when her heart-rending song "Luka," told from the point of view of an abused boy, was a surprise hit in 1987, earning her three Grammy nominations.
Hailed by the New York Times as "the strongest, most decisively shaped songwriting personality to come along in years," Vega ushered in a female, acoustic, folk-pop singer-songwriter movement that would include the likes of Tracy Chapman, Shawn Colvin and Indigo Girls.
Released two years ago, her RetroSpective: The Best Of Suzanne Vega (A&M/UME)features 21 career highlights spanning each of her albums to date, including hits, signature tracks and rarities from one of music's most distinctive singers and storytellers.
"This is a good time to look back and say 'Here's what I've done,'" said Vega. "I'm still very much that teenage girl in my room wondering how my music can connect with people, can I put my vision into words, do other people see what I see? There's still a thrill about that for me.
"I've had the freedom to do what I wanted, on my own terms and on my own timetable. I'm very handmade," Vega said. "I see my career as a spiral, revolving around the central point of my guitar and lyrics."
Born in Santa Monica, Vega moved to New York City after her parents divorced. She grew up in Spanish Harlem and the Upper West Side of New York City, where she began playing guitar at age 11 and began writing songs in her teens.
Vega's songs were influenced by her computer systems analyst mother and Puerto Rican writer stepfather, who listened to everything from Motown, folk and cool jazz to Beatles pop and bossa nova.
Since "Luka, Vega's music has embraced different styles -- described as industrial folk and "techno folk" -- and received varied treatments -- from the minimalist arrangements of Phillip Glass to the electronic dance duo DNA's remix of her a cappella "Tom's Diner."
Opening for Vega will be Marc Cohn, winner of the 1991 Grammy award for Best New Artist and considered one of the most compelling singer-songwriters in contemporary music.
The singer-songwriter, pianist, and acoustic guitarist is known for his personal, introspective lyrics and his gift for melody and song structure.
"He writes and sings at an amazing level," said David Crosby, the legendary rock singer. "He has consistently written some of the best songs in American music."
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