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Rhythm Revue Spotlight on singer-songwriter Laura Nyro

In 1967, the New York based jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears cut their first album. The album was called Child is Father to the Man. There weren't any Top 40 hits on Blood, Sweat & Tears first album, but the best-known song was “I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know,” which was covered by Donny Hathaway. The group's original singer, Al Kooper (who was also co-founder of Blood, Sweat & Tears), left the group after their first album. In a search for a new lead singer, many people were considered, including a young singer-songwriter from the Bronx.

19-year-old Laura Nyro had already recorded her first album when she was considered as the new lead singer for Blood, Sweat & Tears. She wanted to join the band, but she was talked out of it by record executives who wanted her to concentrate on her own songwriting.

That first Laura Nyro album was called More Than a New Discovery and already featured many of her best-known songs, including “And When I Die,” which was later recorded by Blood, Sweat & Tears. Laura Nyro's first album also featured the songs “Wedding Bell Blues” and “Blowing Away,” which were both Top 40 hits for The Fifth Dimension. And “Stony End,” which was a big hit for Barbra Streisand and was also recorded by Diana Ross shortly after she left The Supremes.

Laura Nyro was soon signed to Columbia Records where she did her second and most critically acclaimed album, Eli and the 13th Confession. It was 1968. Laura Nyro's “Sweet Blindness” and “Stone Souled Picnic” were two other songs that became hits for The Fifth Dimension. “Eli's Coming” was a big hit for Three Dog Night. Another one of Laura Nyro's most popular albums came out in 1971, where she, for the first time, recorded songs written by other people. This album was a portrait of Laura Nyro's doo-wop roots. The album was called Gonna Take a Miracle, named for a 1964 hit by the girl group The Royalettes. The album featured LaBelle—Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash. It was produced and recorded in Philadelphia by two of the Philly Sound’s co-creators, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

It's Gonna Take A Miracle

During the ‘70s, Laura Nyro went in and out of retirement, citing discomfort with fame and TV appearances. Despite her hesitation, she recorded several more albums throughout the next three decades. Laura Nyro died on April 8, 1997. She was only 49.

Listen above.

Recommended Listening

Songs performed by Laura Nyro:

“Stoned Soul Picnic”
“Wedding Bell Blues”
“Stoney End”
“Up on the Roof” (written by Carole King & Gerry Goffin)
“The Bells” (with LaBelle; written by Marvin Gaye)

Laura Nyro songs performed by others:

“And When I Die” by Blood Sweat & Tears
"Blowing Away” by The Fifth Dimension

Blood, Sweat & Tears - And When I Die (Official Audio)

Deep Cut

“Emmie” (live version from The Loom's Desire)

Felix Hernandez started his career as a producer and radio journalist while in college. In the 1980’s, Felix independently produced the award-winning radio series BluesStage, which had a 6 year run on over 200 NPR stations. He also worked extensively as a journalist with WBEZ in Chicago, and NPR.