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Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro is a biography of the pioneering singer-songwriter whose recordings and high-drama performances were both beloved and inspiring in the 1960s and '70s. With her groundbreaking honest and passionate lyrics, her unusual and innovative rhythms and melody, Nyro's influence is still felt by singers and songwriters today.
Beginning with her childhood and teen years in the Bronx, and ending with her untimely death from ovarian cancer in 1997, Soul Picnic details how Nyro was "discovered" as a prodigious eighteen-year-old songwriter, had her songs covered with great success by other singers (most famously, the Fifth Dimension, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Three Dog Night, and Barbra Streisand), and created her own remarkable albums, such as Eli and the Thirteen Confession and New York Tendaberry. It also tells how a young David Geffen, as her agent and then manager, helped boost her career, but how she ultimately rejected both Geffen and the glare of stardom for a quieter rural life. Nyro was a very private person, and Michele Kort has uncovered aspects of her life offstage never previously revealed, including a romance with famed rock musician Jackson Browne and the love affair that led to the birth of her son, Gil. It also fleshes out her long, loving relationship with painter Maria Desiderio.
Kort features Laura Nyro's music, the making of each of her albums, the musical influences that informed her work, and the important legacy she has left behind. She interviewed nearly all of the producers and arrangers Nyro worked with, and many of the musicians who played on her albums. The book also includes a discography of both Nyro's recordings and many covers of her songs by well-known artists.
With passion and style, acclaimed journalist Michele Kort has seamlessly joined thorough research with oral history in this beautifully rendered biography of an important, often-overlooked music icon.
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If you appreciate the music of the late 60s/early 70s, if you remember the songs the late great Laura Nyro wrote and others performed ("Stoned Soul Picnic," "Wedding Bell Blues," "Eli's Comin'," "Stoney End," "And When I Die," "Sweet Blindness," "Save the Country," "Time and Love" ...), and, most of all, if you love the way Nyro sang those songs, I think you'll enjoy this first-ever biography of the singer-songwriter. I spoke to over 100 people who knew and worked with Nyro over her 30-year music career, including her former manager David Geffen, Patti LaBelle (her backup singer, along with the group Labelle, on the "Gonna Take A Miracle" album), all her producers (such as the Rascals' Felix Cavaliere), and her family and close friends. Plus, I gathered some great photos of her, from childhood on, including images with her family, her loves, and her musical colleagues. SOUL PICNIC is both a labor of love and a serious consideration of Nyro's music, career, and life, illuminating her roots as an artist while honoring her personal mystique.About the Author:
Los Angeles-based writer and editor Michele Kort has been a journalist for twenty-five years. Writing for the Los Angeles Magazine, L.A. Reader, Redbook, The Advocate, and L.A. Weekly, she has won several national awards. During the past four years, Kort's main project was researching and writing this biography of Laura Nyro.
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