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October 18: Laura Nyro

October 18, 2012

Singer-songwriter Laura Nyro (Nigro) was born in the Bronx on this date in 1947, the daughter of a Jewish mother and an Italian jazz trumpeter father. Nyro began writing songs at a very young age and attended the High School of Music and Art. She sold "And When I Die," to Peter, Paul and Mary at age 17, was playing at the Monterey Pop Festival by 1967, and retired for the first of several times at age 24. Nyro's best-known songs include "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Wedding Bell Blues," "Eli's Coming," "Save the Country," "Sweet Blindness," and "When I Was a Freeport and You Were the Main Drag," and her songs became hits for the Fifth Dimension; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Three Dog Night; and Barbra Streisand, among others. Nyro accompanied herself on piano and was a moody, piercing singer who commanded active attention. She also helped revive black "girl group" music with her recordings (with Patti LaBelle) of "I Met Him on a Sunday," "Jimmy Mack," "Dedicated to the One I Love" and "Nowhere to Run." "I was always interested in the social consciousness of certain songs," Nyro said. "My mother and grandfather were progressive thinkers, so I felt at home in the peace movement and the women's movement, and that has influenced my music." She died at 49 of ovarian cancer. Nyro was inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. God knows why it took so long. To hear her "Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp," look below.
"But kisses and love won't carry me/'til you marry me, Bill." —Laura Nyro