Laura Nyro

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Considering her "idiosyncratic" performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival (where she was booed off stage after a soul-style revue) and her underachievement in the charts, singer/songwriter Laura Nyro is all too frequently passed over as an original artist of worth.

Laura was born in the Bronx and was only nineteen when she recorded her first album, More Than A New Discovery in 1966 for the Verve label. It included the original version of Wedding Bell Blues, a song that was successfully covered by The Fifth Dimension giving them an American #1.

lauranyro4Her 1968 LP, Eli and The Thirteenth Confession, was recorded under the aegis of David Geffen and contained piano-based songs which were at once introspective, sensual and poetic, embracing an eclectic combination of blue-eyed soul, jazz (her father had been a jazz trumpeter), folk music and gospel.

Her openness to experimentation saw Nyro incorporate unexpected tempo shifts, something that irked contemporary critics.

But whether it is the bohemian life depicted in her swinging Sweet Blindness, the wandering and sunny soul-wrapped melody of Stoned Soul Picnic, or the sad and lingering blues of Woman's Blues, Nyro's intense, unconventional songwriting - and striking delivery, ranging from whispering to strident within a phrase - touches both the head and the heart.

The album barely hit the Top 200, but though Nyro herself remained a stranger to chart success, well-known acts such as The Fifth Dimension and Three Dog Night made the big time with cover version of tracks on that album.