LAURA NYRO, American singer and songwriter was born (d. 1997); American composer, lyricist, singer and pianist. Her style was a distinctive hybrid of Brill Building-style New York pop, mixed with elements of jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, show tunes and rock.
She was best known, and had the most commercial success, as a composer and lyricist rather than as a performer. Between 1968 and 1970 a number of other singers had significant hits with her songs: the Fifth Dimension with “Blowing Away”, “Wedding Bell Blues”, “Stoned Soul Picnic”, “Sweet Blindness”, “Save The Country” and “Black Patch”; Blood, Sweat * Tears with “And When I Die”; Three Dog Night with “Eli’s Coming”; and Barbra Streisand with “Stoney End.” Ironically, Nyro’s own best-selling single was a cover of Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Up On the Roof.” By 1976, her marriage had ended, and she returned with an album of new material, Smile. She then embarked on a four-month tour with a full band, which resulted in the 1977 live album Season of Lights. Around this time, she met her subsequent life partner, Brooklyn-born painter Maria Desiderio (d. 1999).
Posthumous releases include Angel In The Dark (2001), which include her final studio recordings made in 1994 and 1995, and The Loom’s Desire, a set of live recordings with solo piano and harmony singers from The Bottom Line Christmas shows of 1993 and 1994.
Nyro’s influence on popular musicians has also been acknowledged by such artists as Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, and Todd Rundgren. Rundgren stated that, once he heard her, he “stopped writing songs like The Who and started writing songs like Laura”. His song about her, “Baby, Let’s Swing” on his first solo album Runt, includes the lyrics “Laura…I heard you open in L. A.” and “Now I love to shuffle / ever since I heard you sing.” Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, when promoting her 2006 solo album Rabbit Fur Coat repeatedly cited Nyro’s 1971 album Gonna Take a Miracle as a big influence on her music.