|Birth name||Suzanne Nadine Peck|
|Born||July 11, 1959|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Origin||New York City, U.S.|
Suzanne Nadine Vega (née Peck; born July 11, 1959) is an American singer-songwriter best known for her folk-inspired music. Vega's music career spans almost 40 years. She came to prominence in the mid-1980s, releasing four singles that entered the Top 40 charts in the UK during the 1980s and 1990s, including "Marlene on the Wall", "Left of Center", "Luka" and "No Cheap Thrill". "Tom's Diner", which was originally released as an a cappella recording on Vega's second studio album, Solitude Standing (1987), was remixed in 1990 as a dance track by English electronic duo DNA with Vega as featured artist, and it became a Top 10 hit in over five countries. The original a cappella recording of the song was used as a test during the creation of the MP3 format. The role of her song in the development of the MP3 compression prompted Vega to be given the title of "The Mother of the MP3".
Vega has released nine studio albums to date, the most recent being 2016’s Lover, Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers.
Suzanne Nadine Vega was born on July 11, 1959, in Santa Monica, California. Her parents divorced soon after her birth. Her mother, Pat Vega (née Schumacher), is a computer systems analyst of German-Swedish heritage. Her father, Richard Peck, is of English, Irish and Scottish origin. Her stepfather, Edgardo Vega Yunqué, also known as Ed Vega, was a writer and teacher from Puerto Rico. When Vega was two and a half, her family moved to New York City. She grew up in Spanish Harlem and the Upper West Side. She was not aware that Peck was her biological father until she was nine years old. Vega and her father met for the first time in her late 20s, and they remain in contact.
While majoring in English literature at Barnard College, she performed in small venues in Greenwich Village, where she was a regular contributor to Jack Hardy's Monday night songwriters' group at the Cornelia Street Cafe and had some of her first songs published on Fast Folk anthology albums. In 1984, she received a major label recording contract, making her one of the first 'Fast Folk' artists to break out on a major label.
Vega's self-titled debut studio album was released in 1985 and was well received by critics in the U.S.; it reached platinum status in the United Kingdom. Produced by Lenny Kaye and Steve Addabbo, the songs feature Vega's acoustic guitar in straightforward arrangements. A video was released for the album's song "Marlene on the Wall", which went into MTV and VH1's rotations. During this period Vega also wrote lyrics for two songs ("Lightning" and "Freezing") on Songs from Liquid Days (1986) by composer Philip Glass.
Her next studio album, Solitude Standing (1987), garnered critical and commercial success, selling over one million copies in the U.S. It includes the international hit single "Luka", which is written about, and from the point of view of, an abused child—at the time an uncommon subject for a pop hit. While continuing a focus on Vega's acoustic guitar, the music is more strongly pop-oriented and features fuller arrangements. Following the success of the album, in 1989 Vega almost became the first female artist to headline the Glastonbury Festival. Female fronted UK band "All About Eve" headlined on Friday night due to a short notice headline switch. Vega performed her set whilst wearing a bulletproof vest, her band having received death threats from an obsessed fan ahead of the festival.
The a cappella "Tom's Diner" from Solitude Standing became a hit in 1990, having been remixed by two British dance producers under the name DNA. The track was originally a bootleg, until Vega allowed DNA to release it through her record company, and it became her biggest hit.
Vega's third studio album, Days of Open Hand (1990), continued in the style of her first two studio albums.
In 1992, she released her fourth studio album 99.9F°. It consists of a mixture of folk music, dance beats and industrial music. This record was awarded Gold status by the RIAA in recognition of selling over 500,000 copies in the U.S. The single "Blood Makes Noise" from this album peaked at number-one on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks. Vega later married the album's producer Mitchell Froom.
Her fifth studio album, Nine Objects of Desire, was released in 1996. The music varies between a frugal, simple style and the industrial production of 99.9F°. This album contains "Caramel", featured in the movie The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996), and later the trailer for the movie Closer (2004). A song not included on that album, "Woman on the Tier", was featured on the soundtrack of the movie Dead Man Walking (1996).
In 1997 she took a singing part on the concept album Heaven & Hell, a musical interpretation of the seven deadly sins by her colleague Joe Jackson, with whom she had already collaborated in 1986 on "Left of Center" from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack (with Vega singing and Jackson playing piano).
At the memorial concert for her brother Tim Vega in December 2002, Vega began her role as the subject of the direct-cinema documentary, Some Journey, directed by Christopher Seufert of Mooncusser Films. The documentary has not been completed.
In 2003, the 21-song greatest hits compilation album Retrospective: The Best of Suzanne Vega was released. (The UK version of Retrospective included an eight-song bonus CD as well as a DVD containing 12 songs). In the same year she was invited by Grammy Award-winning jazz guitarist Bill Frisell to play at the Century of Song concerts at the famed Ruhrtriennale in Germany.
On August 3, 2006, Vega became the first major recording artist to perform live in the Internet-based virtual world, Second Life. The event was hosted by John Hockenberry of public radio's The Infinite Mind.
On September 17, 2006, she performed in Central Park, as part of a benefit concert for the Save Darfur Coalition. During the concert she highlighted her support for Amnesty International, of which she has been a member since 1988.
In early October 2006, Vega participated in the Academia Film Olomouc (AFO) in Olomouc, the Czech Republic, the oldest festival of documentary films in Europe, in which she appeared as a main guest. She was invited there as the subject of the documentary film by director Christopher Seufert, that had a test screening at the festival. At the end of the festival she performed her classic songs and added one brand new piece called "New York Is a Woman".
Vega is also interviewed in the book Everything Is Just a Bet which was published in Czech in October 2006. The book contains 12 interview transcriptions from the talk show called Stage Talks that regularly runs in the Švandovo divadlo (Švandovo Theatre) in Prague. Vega introduced the book to the audience of the Švandovo divadlo (Švandovo Theatre), and together with some other Czech celebrities gave a signing session.
She signed a new recording contract with Blue Note Records in the spring of 2006, and released Beauty & Crime on July 17, 2007. The album, produced by Jimmy Hogarth, won a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. Her contract was not renewed and she was released in June 2008.
In 2007, Vega followed the lead of numerous other mainstream artists and released her track "Pornographer's Dream" as podsafe. The song spent two weeks at number-one during 2007 and finished as the No. 11 hit of the year on the PMC Top10's annual countdown. In 2015, Vega joined The 14th Annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians' careers.   She was also a judge for the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th Independent Music Awards.
A partial cover version of her song "Tom's Diner" was used to introduce the 2010 British movie 126.96.36.199., with its lyrics largely rewritten to echo the plot. This musical hybrid was released as "Keep Moving". Vega participated in the Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse studio album Dark Night of the Soul (2010). She wrote both melody and lyrics for her song, which is titled "Man Who Played God", inspired by a biography of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. Vega sang lead vocals on the song "Now I Am an Arsonist" with singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton on his studio album, Artificial Heart (2011).
Vega has re-recorded her back-catalogue, both for artistic and commercial (and control) reasons, in the Close-up series. Vol. 1 (Love Songs) and Vol. 2 (People & Places) appeared in 2010 while Vol. 3 (States of Being) was released in July 2011 followed by Vol. 4 (Songs of Family) in September 2012. Volumes 2, 3 and 4 of the Close-Up albums included previously unrecorded material; Volumes 2 and 3 each included one new collaboratively written song, while Volume 4 included three songs that Vega had written years earlier, but had not previously gotten around to recording. In all, Vega's Close-Up series features 60 re-recorded songs and five new compositions, representing about three-quarters of her lifetime songwriting output.
While performing live, Vega and long-term collaborator Gerry Leonard began to introduce a number of new songs into the setlist, including the live favorite "I Never Wear White". Over the course of a year, the songs were completed and recorded in a live-studio setting with the help of a number of guests. Produced by Leonard, Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles was released in February 2014. It was her first album of new material in seven years and became Vega's first studio album to reach the UK Top 40 since 1992, peaking at No. 37.
Vega's ninth studio album, Lover, Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers, was released on October 14, 2016.
In February and March 2023, Vega was to tour the UK.
At the age of nine she began to write poetry. She was encouraged to do so by her stepfather. It took her three years to write her first song, "Brother Mine", which was finished at the age of 14. It was first published on Close-Up Vol. 4, Songs of Family (2012), along with her other early song, "The Silver Lady".
Vega has not learned to read musical notes; she sees the melody as a shape and chords as colors. She focuses on lyrics and melodic ideas; for advanced features – like intros or bridges – she relies on other artists with whom she works. Most of her albums, except the first one, were made in such cooperation.
Suzanne Vega currently plays Furch guitars, a brand made in the Czech Republic and was the focus of a win-a-guitar competition run by Furch in 2021. In the mid-1980s she played Guild guitars, and in the 1990s she played Yamaha and Taylor guitars at different times.
Vega and Duncan Sheik wrote a play Carson McCullers Talks About Love, about the life of the writer Carson McCullers. In the play directed by Kay Matschullat, which premiered in 2011, Vega alternates between monologue and songs. Vega and Sheik were nominated for Outstanding Music in a Play for the 57th annual Drama Desk awards.
The album Lover, Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers, based on this play, was released in 2016. Vega considers it to be a third version, because it's rewritten, and she made the first version in college.
In early 2020, Vega played the role of "Band Leader" in an off-Broadway musical based on the 1969 movie Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, directed by Scott Elliott and produced at The New Group in New York City. She replaced Sheik, who wrote the show's music and co-wrote the lyrics with Amanda Green. In his review for The New York Times, critic Ben Brantley called the "brandy-voiced" Vega "a delightful, smoothly sardonic presence."
Vega established her own recording label after the 2008 economic crisis. From that point, she stopped working for Blue Note Records and started thinking about re-recording her back catalog with new arrangements and gaining control over her works (which she eventually did with the 2014 Close-Up Series).
The name "Amanuensis Productions" was meant as a private joke about "servant" (amanuensis) owning the "masters" (recording masters), also a pun at A&M still legally owning her previous master tapes.
On March 17, 1995, Vega married Mitchell Froom, a musician and a record producer (who played on and produced 99.9F° and Nine Objects of Desire). They have a daughter, Ruby Froom (born July 8, 1994). The band Soul Coughing's debut studio album Ruby Vroom (1994) was named for her, with Vega's approval. Vega and Froom separated and divorced in 1998.
On February 11, 2006, Vega married Paul Mills, a lawyer and poet, "22 years after he first proposed to her."
Awards and nominations
|1985||Billboard Music Awards||Herself||Top Billboard 200 Artist - Female||Nominated|
|Top Billboard 200 Artist||Nominated|
|Top Hot 100 Artist||Nominated|
|Top Hot 100 Artist - Female||Nominated|
|Solitude Standing||Top Billboard 200 Album||Nominated|
|Top Pop Compact Disk||Nominated|
|"Luka"||Top Hot 100 Song||Nominated|
|NME Awards||Herself||Best Female Singer||Won|
|1988||Pollstar Concert Industry Awards||Small Hall Tour of the Year||Nominated|
|ASCAP Pop Music Awards||"Luka"||Most Performed Song||Won|
|MTV Video Music Awards||Best Female Video||Won|
|Grammy Awards||Song of the Year||Nominated|
|Record of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Female Pop Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|1990||Days of Open Hand||Best Contemporary Folk Recording||Nominated|
|Best Album Package||Won|
|1992||Billboard Music Video Awards||"Blood Makes Noise"||Best Pop/Rock Female Video||Nominated|
|1993||New York Music Awards||99.9F°||Best Rock Album||Won|
|1996||Žebřík Music Awards||Herself||Best International Female||Nominated|
|2003||Glamour Awards||Woman of the Year||Won|
|2008||Grammy Awards||Beauty & Crime||Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical||Won|
|2010||New York Music Awards||Close-Up Vol. 1, Love Songs||Best Pop/Rock Compilation||Won|
|2012||Drama Desk Awards||Carson McCullers Talks About Love||Outstanding Music in a Play||Nominated|
- Suzanne Vega (1985)
- Solitude Standing (1987)
- Days of Open Hand (1990)
- 99.9F° (1992)
- Nine Objects of Desire (1996)
- Songs in Red and Gray (2001)
- Beauty & Crime (2007)
- Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles (2014)
- Lover, Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers (2016)
- "Suzanne Vega | Biography & History". AllMusic.
- "BBC Four - Songwriters' Circle, Richard Thompson, Suzanne Vega, Loudon Wainwright". BBC.
- Sveriges Television, Hitlåtens historia: Tom's Diner – Suzanne Vega. Aired February 6, 2010. "Hitlåtens historia | SVT.se". Archived from the original on February 26, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2010.
- Vega, Suzanne (September 23, 2008). "Tom's Essay". New York Times. Archived from the original on June 22, 2013. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
- Huey, Steve, "Suzanne Vega Biography", AllMusic, Rovi Corporation, retrieved April 30, 2010
- Curtis, Kim (September 28, 2001). "Softer, earthier Vega releases new album". Reading Eagle. Reading Eagle Company. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
- Jenkins, Mark (August 1987). "Suzanne And The (Un)Common Folk". Creem. Archived from the original on May 6, 2006.
- "Suzanne Vega: A Life in Music". Official Community of Suzanne Vega. Archived from the original on April 19, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2008.
- Anthony, Andrew. "Suzanne Vega: 'It's taken me a while to say, You are what you are, it's fine'". The Guardian. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1215. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- "Biography". Official Community of Suzanne Vega. Archived from the original on April 30, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2008.
- [dead link]
- Holden, Stephen (April 20, 1986). "Philip Glass Turns to the Song". The New York Times. New York, NY. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 584. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database – June 23, 2015". Riaa.com. RIAA.
- "A brief history of female headliners at Glastonbury - BBC Music". www.bbc.co.uk. March 23, 2016.
- Morse, Steve (September 5, 1997). "Stepping Out: Pop star turned classical composer, Joe Jackson takes on the Seven Deadly Sins". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Santa Cruz, CA. Retrieved July 12, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Gewertz, Daniel (February 24, 1999). "Vega has 'Eye' for passionate poetry". The Boston Herald. Boston, MA. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
- "A Tribute To Christina Ricci". Tidal.
- "Nuclear weapons, affirmative action works awarded". The Gettysburg Times. Gettysburg, PA. AP. April 2, 2004. Retrieved July 12, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "American Mavericks". Publicradio.org. American Public Media. 2016. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
- "American Jewish World Service". Ajws.org. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- The Official Suzanne Vega Website .::. By Suzanne: Articles, Poetry and Essays. Web.archive.org (November 11, 2006). Retrieved on May 7, 2011.
- [dead link]
- Doelle, Chris (January 5, 2008). "PMC Top10–010408 – Top Hits of 2007!!!". PMC Top10. Archived from the original on March 25, 2008. Retrieved April 1, 2007.
- "Independent Music Awards". Independent Music Awards. Archived from the original on May 30, 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- "Compare & Save on Cheap Hotel Deals". HotelsCombined.com. Archived from the original on May 9, 2015.
- "Top40-Charts.com". Top40-Charts.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- "Independent Music Awards – Past Judges". Independentmusicawards.com. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- Blistein, Jon (February 14, 2020). "UMG Acknowledges Elton John, Nirvana, Beck Recordings Were Lost or Damaged in Vault Fire". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
- Suzanne Vega | Brief Bio 2010 Archived January 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Suzannevega.com. Retrieved on May 7, 2011.
- "Suzanne Vega's Close-Up series more than meets the eye". Mbbarton.wordpress.com. March 17, 2010. Archived from the original on July 20, 2010.
- Theo Spielberg (November 4, 2011). "Suzanne Vega Proudly Embraces Her Role as 'The Mother of the MP3'". spinner.com. Archived from the original on November 4, 2011.
- Twitter / Suzanne Vega: Vol 3 of Close-Up coming out in July of this year – States of Being. Twitter.com. Retrieved on May 24, 2011.
- "Ishtar Press-release Archived March 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Announcement headliner for the Festival Antigel in Geneva, February 15, 2014
- Ayers, Mike (July 6, 2016). "Hear Suzanne Vega's New Song 'We of Me' From Her Upcoming Album Inspired by Writer Carson McCullers (Exclusive)". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
- "Suzanne Vega Lover, Beloved: Songs From An Evening With Carson McCullers". Nimbit. Archived from the original on October 1, 2016. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
- "Suzanne Vega announces 2023 winter UK tour". NME. June 21, 2022.
- Barber, Simon; O'Connor, Brian (November 27, 2013). "Episode 49 – Suzanne Vega". Sodajerker. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
- Vega, Suzanne (October 1, 2012). "Suzanne Vega" (Interview). Interviewed by Schlansky, Evan. Archived from the original on October 19, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
- O Hillis, Dean (March 17, 2015). "A Melody – A Chord – A Lyric: A Conversation with Suzanne Vega". SLUG Magazine. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- "Suzanne Vega - Tom's Diner | Het verhaal achter het nummer". YouTube.
- Dickson, James (November 18, 2022). "Suzanne Vega: "I love the acoustic guitar – I always have. I love the sound of it. I love playing it. I love the look of it. I love everything about it"". Guitarist / GuitarWorld. Future Publishing. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
- "Get to jamming on Suzanne Vega!". Furch Guitars. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
- Liner notes, Solitude Standing, 1987
- Alan Light (April 27, 2011). "Suzanne Vega's 'Carson McCullers Talks About Love'". NYTimes.com. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
- Charles Isherwood (May 5, 2011). "The Alienated Souls Whisperer". NYTimes.com. Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- Dan Bacalzo (May 6, 2011). "Carson McCullers Talks About Love". TheaterMania.com. Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- "2012 Nominees – 57th Annual Drama Desk Awards". Dramadeskawards.com. Archived from the original on August 16, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Greg Evans (January 8, 2020). "Suzanne Vega Adds Name To Off Broadway's 'Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice' Cast". Deadline.com. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
- Ben Brantley (February 4, 2020). "'Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice' Review: Four on a Mattress, With Songs". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
- Deeks, Russell (May 14, 2015). "Interview: Suzanne Vega". Songwriting. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- "Fun Facts Music". Official Community of Suzanne Vega. Archived from the original on May 15, 2008. Retrieved August 22, 2008.
- "The Official Suzanne Vega website". Suzanne Vega. May 6, 2006. Archived from the original on January 30, 2012. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- "Suzanne Vega and Ruby Froom at the City Winery 06-May-2010". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 11, 2021.
- "Mother & Daughter Vega". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 11, 2021.
- "Ruby singing with me tonight". Twitter. January 8, 2011.
- "Suzanne Vega and Ruby Froom at Joe's Pub in NYC on November 14, 2014". Suzannevega.com. Archived from the original on February 27, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
- "SGI-USA Members in New York Celebrate Spring". Soka Gakkai International. February 2008. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
- "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. December 28, 1985. Retrieved April 27, 2020 – via Google Books.
- "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. December 26, 1987. Retrieved April 27, 2020 – via Google Books.
- "Billboard" (PDF). Worldradiohistory.com. June 4, 1988. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
- "1996-1992 – Anketa Žebřík". Anketazebrik.cz.