Dianne Reeves said it best in her tweet today: Phoebe Snow sings with the angels today Rest In Peace.
Reading that tweet took me back to Phobe’s first album entitled Phobe Snow. That album contained the hit Poetry Man. It also included some other fantastic cuts such as “I Don’t Want the Night to End”, “Take Your Children Home”, “No Show Tonight”, “It Must Be Sunday” and “Let The Good Times Roll”. Rolling Stone described her nine original compositions in “Phoebe Snow” as “light jazz torch songs” but freer in form and attitude. (Two other songs on the album were her versions of others’ material).As far as this writer is concerned that album is a classic and stands beside Carol King’s Tapestry.
Phobe Snow was blessed with a multi-octave range, giving her a signature voice. I say signature, because whether it was a commercial jingle or an opening song to a television series (“A Different World”) you knew it was Phobe Snow’s voice.
Snow made the cover of Rolling Stone appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and was nominated for a Grammy Award as best new artist. However, she was never able to duplicate her early commercial success. Ms. Snow’s career took a backseat to caring for her daughter, Valerie Rose Laub, who was born in 1975 with severe brain damage as a result of medical malpractice.
“It was very, very tight,” Snow told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008. “Occasionally I put an album out, but I didn’t like to tour and they didn’t get a lot of label support. But you know what? It didn’t really matter because I got to stay home more with Valerie and that time was precious.”
Her marriage to Phil Kearns ,Valerie Rose’s father ended in divorce.
In order to support her daughter, the single Mom sang commercial jingles for such companies as Stouffer’s and General Foods, which she said paid well.
Valerie Rose died in 2007 at the age of 31. A few months later, Snow started performing again, trying to deal with her loss.
“Right now it’s beyond a hole. It’s a black hole,” she told the Record of Bergen County, N.J., in 2008. “I don’t even know how to describe that vacancy because it was such an intense relationship. We lived together for 31 years. She was a perennial child. I was her primary caregiver. … We were best friends. It was beyond a loss. I don’t even know what word to use.”
Snow was born Phoebe Laub on July 17, 1950, in New York City and grew up in Teaneck, N.J. As a youngster she studied piano, then switched to the guitar.
“I always wanted to be the greatest woman guitarist alive,” she told The Times in 1976. “I had fantasies about being a female Jimi Hendrix. I would go to his concerts and watch all the things he did. But I guess I just wasn’t meant to be a superstar guitarist.”
Taking guitar lessons affected her singing style.
“I finally said, ‘I can’t play these guitar lines but maybe I can sing them.’ I tried to sing the way a guitar sounds and the way a saxophone sounds too.”
Her poetry became the basis of her lyrics, and she started playing at New York clubs. She signed with Shelter Records in 1974.
She moved to Columbia Records in 1976 after sometimes nasty legal wrangling with Shelter. “Second Childhood” earned her a second gold record, but subsequent Columbia releases did not sell as well. She left the label at the end of the 1970s.
Snow died today April 27, 2011 in Edison, N.J., her longtime friend and public relations representative, Rick Miramontez, said. She had suffered a brain hemorrhage in January 2010.
As fans we never want to hear that talented people such as Phobe Snow have died. We don’t want the night to end, but unfortunately for me and all her other fans, it has ended for Phobe Snow at the age of 60. She is survived by a sister, Julie Laub.
For more on Phobe Snow’s life please take a look at the CBS Sunday Morning video of above.
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