Suzanne Vega Biography

11 July 1959, Santa Monica, California, USA. Vega is a highly literate singer-songwriter who found international success in the late 80s and early 90s. Having moved with her parents to New York City at the age of two, Vega studied dance at the High School for the Performing Arts (as featured in the Fame television series) and at Barnard College, singing her own material in New York folk clubs. Signed by A&M Records in 1984, she recorded her first album with Lenny Kaye, former guitarist with Patti Smith. From this, ‘Marlene On The Wall’, a tale of bed-sitter angst, became a hit. In 1987 ‘Luka’ grabbed even more attention with its evocation of the pain of child abuse told from the victim’s point of view. Vega’s ‘Left Of Center’ appeared on the soundtrack of the movie Pretty In Pink and she contributed lyrics for two tracks on Songs From Liquid Days by Philip Glass. On her third album, Vega collaborated with keyboards player and co-producer Anton Sanko, who brought a new tightness to the sound. Meanwhile, Vega’s lyrics took on a more surreal and precise character, notably on ‘Book Of Dreams’ and ‘Men In A War’, which dealt with the plight of amputees. In 1990, the serendipitous ‘Tom’s Diner’ from Solitude Standing became a hit in Britain after being sampled by the production duo, D.N.A. The track was remixed by Alan Coulthard for Vega’s label A&M; its success led to the release of an album, Tom’s Album (1991), devoted entirely to reworkings of the song by artists such as R.E.M. and rapper Nikki D. Vega was presumably bemused by the whole series of events.

Vega’s commercial presence faded during the 90s, although her critical standing continued to remain high. Nine Objects Of Desire was a move into a smoother sound, in her own words ‘sexier and less defiant’. After a five-year absence, during which she raised her daughter and published her first book, Vega returned to the recording scene in September 2001 with Songs In Red And Gray.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.