Suzanne Vega Biography
Singer + songwriter Suzanne Nadine Vega was born on July 11, 1959 in Santa Monica, California USA. Her mother divorced Suzanne's biological father when Suzanne was a year old and remarried in 1960. Suzanne's stepfather, Ed Vega, was a Puerto Rican-born writer and teacher. The family, which eventually included three siblings, moved to the Spanish Harlem section of New York City in 1961. Vega wrote poetry from an early age and began composing songs on the guitar at 14. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan, where she studied modern dance. In 1978, she started performing her original compositions in Greenwich Village Folk music clubs. Following her graduation from Barnard College in 1982, she took a day job as a receptionist and continued to perform at New York clubs such as Folk City and the Speakeasy.
As Suzanne Vega's local fan base grew, she began receiving rave reviews
from journals such as The New York Times and attracting interest from
major record labels. In 1983, A&M Records, who had twice turned her
down before, signed her to a contract.
Her eponymous debut album, released in the spring of 1985, reached the #91 position on The Billboard Top 200 chart selling over a quarter of a million copies stateside and over half a million abroad; while it produced no major hit singles in the U.S. "Marlene On The Wall" became a top 20 hit in the U.K. and earned her fans all over Europe.
Vega's sophomore album, "Solitude Standing", was released in April 1987. The lead single "Luka", a haunting song about child abuse, became an unexpected hit, going all the way to the #3 slot on The Billboard Hot 100 chart in August and hit #15 on The Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The album achieved gold status in the United States, reached #11 on The Billboard 200 chart and peaked at #2 in Great Britain. It went on to sell over three million copies worldwide and she had a further U.S. Hot 100 entry with the album's title-cut.
There was a three years gap between Vega's previous LP and "Days
Of Open Hand", her third album, which arrived in spring 1990; the
record marked a departure from her acoustic-Folk roots into a more Pop-Rock
sound. Despite positive critical reviews, the album's lack of a hit single
made it less of a success than her two previous efforts; it stalled at
#50 on The Billboard Top 200 chart, however, the lead single "Book
Of Dreams" grazed The Modern Rock chart peaking at #8.
Suzanne Vega had another huge hit with a proto-trip-hop remix of an a cappella recording that had originally appeared on "Solitude Standing". A pair of British producers known as DNA used "Tom's Diner" as the vocal track for their Techno remix released in 1990. Vega heard the unauthorized recording and loved it, prompting A&M to reissue it. The single became a smash around the world, reaching #2 on the British Sales chart, #5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #7 on The Modern Rock Tracks in early 1991.
Inspired by the unexpected success of a Dance-oriented single, Vega's next album, "99.9 F°", produced by Mitchell Froom, made use of electronic and industrial sounds, techno beats and plenty of percussion. It reached #86 in U.S. upon its September 1992 release generating two Modern Rock top 20 hits, including the #1 "Blood Makes Noise" and the title-track. Froom and Vega got married shortly after the album was completed and a daughter, Ruby Froom, was born in 1994.
Under the guidance of her husband Suzanne Vega continued to explore more textured and vaguely experimental musical territory on her next album, "Nine Objects Of Desire"; the disc was released in September 1996 and weighed in at #92 on The Billboard 200 chart.
Froom and Vega split up in August 1998 and her best-of collection, "Tried And True" which contains all the hits and a fair sampling from each of her five albums, was released in December 1999. That same year was published a collection of poems, lyrics, essays and journalistic pieces entitled "The Passionate Eye: The Collected Writings Of Suzanne Vega".
Her sixth album of new material, "Songs In Red And Gray", arrived in September 2001 and marked a return to the acoustic-oriented sound of her first two albums, but it only scraped the lower reaches of the U.S. Billboard Top 200 chart.
Released in mid 2007, "Beauty & Crime", her seventh album, marks Suzanne Vega's debut on Blue Note Records. Recorded in both New York and London, the 11-track set featured guest appearances from background vocalist and vocal arranger KT Tunstall, guitarists Gerry Leonard and Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo as well as long time members of her backing band, bassist Mike Visceglia and drummer Doug Yowell. "Frank And Ava" was the first single from "Beauty & Crime" which debuted at #129 on The Billboard Top 200 Albums chart and was awarded with a Grammy in the category Best Engineered Album.
February 2014 saw the release of "Tales From The Realm Of The Queen Of Pentacles", the first studio album of new material in seven years from the singer + songwriter.