Meet Regina Spektor. If you are unfamiliar with her music, Spektor is a leader in an eclectic genre that includes a fusion of folk, pop music, hip hop, Jewish, classical and punk. Her lyrics are equally eclectic, often taking on the form of abstract narratives or first-person character studies, similar to short stories orvignettes put to song.
Spektor usually sings in English, though she sometimes includes a few words or verses of Latin, Russian, French, and other languages in her songs. She also plays with pronunciations, which she said on a NPR interview to be a remnant of her early years when she listened to pop in English without understanding the lyrics.
Spektor and her parents left the Soviet Union when she was nine and a half years old, when Soviet citizens were permitted to emigrate. The seriousness of Spektor leaving her piano behind almost resulted in her family not leaving the USSR, but they finally decided to emigrate, due to the ethnic and political discrimination that Jews faced.
Her musical talent
Spektor is a 32 year old Russian American recording artist and songwriter. Her father, a photographer and amateur violinist and mother, a former music professor in a Soviet college of music, and now a public elementary school teacher encouraged her musical gift as a child by allowing her to listen to rock-and-roll bands such as The Beatles, Queen, and The Moody Blues .
Her musical talents are so vast that it’s almost not just to label her an artist/songwriter as she plays the piano and guitar. And although she writes all of her songs, she in not in the habit of writing them down…a passion she developed during a visit to Israel with the Nesiya Institute in her teenage years.
This multi-faceted and beautiful artist became known to the public eye after performing in the anti-folk scene in downtown New York City, often as a duo with drummer Anders Griffen, and her frequent performances at the East Village’s SideWalk Cafe, the Living Room, Tonic, Fez, theKnitting Factory, and CB’s Gallery. Her frequent performances prompted the release of her self-published CD 11:11 in 2001. Three years after her first album in 2004, she signed a contract with Warner Brothers’ record label Sire Records to publish and distribute her third album Soviet Kitsch, originally self-released in 2003.
To date she has released six albums:
- 2001: 11:11
- 2002: Songs
- 2004: Soviet Kitsch
- 2006: Begin to Hope
- 2009: Far
- 2012: What We Saw from the Cheap Seats
Her passion for her culture and religion
Her love for her Jewish heritage and religion in seen in her fluency in Russian and Hebrew. She attended Jewish schools growing up and paid tribute to her Russian heritage quoting the poem ‘February’ by the Russian poet Boris Pasternak in her song Après Moi:
“I’m very connected to the language and the culture.”
Spektor has stated that she works hard to ensure that each of her songs has its own musical style, rather than trying to develop a distinctive style for her music as a whole:
“It doesn’t feel natural for me to write some diary type song. I want to write a classic like Yesterday but weird songs about meatballs in refrigerators come into my head – I can’t help it.”
Spektor has a broad vocal range and uses the full extent of it. She also explores a variety of different and somewhat unorthodox vocal techniques, such as verses composed entirely of buzzing noises made with the lips and beatbox-style flourishing in the middle of ballads. She also makes use of such unusual musical techniques as using a drum stick to tap rhythms on the body of the piano or chair.
Her Philanthropy efforts
In 2007, she covered John Lennon’s “Real Love” for Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur. The following year, she participated in Songs for Tibet, an initiative to support the human rights situation in Tibet and the 14th Dalai Lama. The album was issued on August 5, 2008, via iTunes and on August 19 in music stores around the world.
Continuing with her support for Tibet, Regina Spektor played for Tibet House’s annual concert at Carnegie Hall on February 26, 2010. Less than one month later, on March 23, 2010, Spektor gave a concert at the Fillmore at Irving Plaza in New York City to raise funds for the work of Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.
On April 27, she released a cover of Radiohead’s song “No Surprises“, for which all proceeds went to Doctors Without Borders in order to help earthquake victims in Haiti and Chile.
What’s success without someone to share it with?
Take a listen below to a few of her songs and don’t forget to support her current album ‘What We Saw From Our Cheap Seats’ in stores/online now. This has been music spotlight: Regina Spektor.
- Regina Spektor: All The Rowboats (bedsidesign.com)
- Regina Spektor – NPR Interview (24 May 2012) (euzicasa.wordpress.com)
- Lucky Brand + Regina Spektor (luckybrand.com)
- Live Music: Regina Spektor at the Greek Theatre (irom.wordpress.com)
- “Regina Fuckin’ Spektor Is a Name I’ll Never Be Ashamed to Drop” (lineout.thestranger.com)
- Music Spotlight – Emeli Sandé (kolorblindmag.com)