Wednesday, April 27, 2011

R.I.P. Phoebe Snow

I was saddened to hear that Phoebe Snow passed away yesterday. I saw her perform once, at Birdland, and I was lucky to bear witness to that because she wasn't scheduled to perform. They announced that she was in the room (at Birdland) and the audience went wild! "Who was this woman?" I thought to myself. I'd never heard of her before, and yet people were cheering and clapping and practically begging her to perform!
She walked towards the stage, very simple, even a little timid it seemed...but when she opened her mouth? AH-MAY-ZING!! She totally blew me away with her beautiful powerful voice, her range...her presence. She sang a soulful rendition of "You Send Me" and since the audience was going absolutely insane for an encore, she then sang Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" and she KILLED IT!!!! Her friend, Skip Brevis (piano), David Buskin (guitar) and Steve Doyle (bass) was her impromptu band that night and they were phenomenal! (According to Ann Ruckert, "no rehearsal, no band practice...they were on and they hit it!")

Image from

Although I didn't know her personally, I was particularly touched when I heard about her story: how she decided to care for her daughter who was born "severely brain-damaged", and did not institutionalize her (which was common at the time); how her husband left her and yet she devoted herself to her disabled daughter until the day she (her daughter) died; how she never fully recovered from her daughter's passing, or really revive her music career. As I watched her sing her heart out at Birdland, I knew she was singing from a place where only pleasant memories and pain could both reside.

I sang on that same stage that very night, and I was honored to sing on that stage where Phoebe and countless other talented musicians performed. Ervin Drake (living legend who co-wrote the Billie Holiday classic "Good Morning Heartache" and numerous other hits) also performed that night.

It is always sad when someone dies, but it is also a reminder of just how precious life really is.

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