by Ellen Floren
“And when I die, and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
There’ll be one child born, and a world – to carry on, to carry on”
Sound familiar? You bet! These are lines taken from “And When I Die” a million dollar seller written and arranged by Laura Nyro.
You’re probably familiar with songs such as “Eli’s Coming,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Sweet Blindness,” “Save Our Country,” and groups that sing them. But most of us fail to acknowledge the writer, Laura Nyro.
Laura’s fans will all agree that any of her three albums by far surpass any recordings of songs by the Fifth Dimension, Blood Sweat and Tears or Peter, Paul and Mary.
It may seem strange that someone who is said to be as fantastic as she is doesn’t put out her own singles, but records only albums.
The truth of the matter is that most people are not ready and cannot appreciate the clear, three-octave, racing-city-soul voice of Laura Nyro.
When her first album, “Eli and the Thirteenth Confession” first appeared, music reviewers were left groping to fit Laura into existing categories. She was compared to Aretha Franklin, Donovan, Burt Bacharach, usually with the admissions that their comparisons were lame.
Her music – all of which she writes, arranges and sings to her own piano accompaniment – has been called rock, jazz, soul and classical.
A noted characteristic of her music is that she changes key and tempo when you least expect it and her melodies cross identifiable bar lines and keep going when her piano stops.
Now that Laura has three successful albums out, her growing popularity is evident. Laura’s recent performance at the Civic Opera House filled every seat. Her only instrument, besides her voice, was her grand piano which was heard clearly and precisely throughout the auditorium. The audience shifted compulsively with the moods of her music.
To compare Laura Nyro to anyone else is useless. Her formula for writing songs is simple but unique. She writes about real people and places.
Her latest album is called “New York Tendaberry.” “Tendaberry” is a word she made up to describe the warm tender care she feels deep inside the city’s grating exterior. She has “looked into the heart of the city and transcended its decay with the knowledge that, somewhere beneath the dirt, God is alive and waiting.”
The Chicago Sun-Times review stated that “when Laura Nyro walked onto the Opera House stage, they shouted ‘Bravo!’ And bravo is correct. It’s sort of quaint and nice, and so is Laura Nyro.”