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October 04, 2012 - Image 57

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-10-04

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In 2006, she began her first national
tour as a headliner. She received notice
that year when one of her songs, "Fidelity,"
was viewed on YouTube more than
200,000 times in two days. On Sirius
Radio's Left of Center channel, it was voted
by listeners as song of the year.
Since then, she has performed on

Saturday Night Live, Austin City Limits
and CBS's Sunday Morning, and at the
Montreux jazz Festival, Radio City Music
Hall and the Jewish Music and Heritage
Festival in New York City.



A Musical
Ad venture Show

V ocalist pianist Regina Spektor brings her

sweetly eclectic songs to town.

Allan Nahajewski

Contributing Write r


f you like variety in your music, if
you appreciate unexpected twists and
turns, if you're searching for inspired,
imaginative songs that you're not find-
ing on the radio these days, then Regina
Spektor may be for you.
Born in Russia to a Jewish family, the
32-year-old singer-pianist is hard to
categorize. She's been called folk — and
anti-folk. She's a songwriter who claims
she never writes down her songs. She
names Frederic Chopin, Billie Holiday,
the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and
Radiohead as her influences.
Yet despite not fitting a format, she has
found her audience — or perhaps, her
audience has found her. Spektor's newest
CD, What We Saw from the Cheap Seats,
debuted in May at No. 3 on the Billboard
200 album chart.
Since then, Spektor has performed on

The Late Show with David Letterman, Good
Morning America, The Colbert Report,
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and a live-
streamed concert on NPR. She has toured
Europe, including a sold-out show at the
Royal Albert Hall in London and her first
shows in Russia. One of her new songs, "All
the Rowboats," was nominated for an MTV
Video Music Award for Best Art Direction.
On Saturday, Oct. 13, she will be at the
Fillmore Detroit with special guest Only Son.

Musical Journey

In 2010, Spektor performed for President
Obama, his wife Michelle and hundreds

of guests at a White House reception to
celebrate Jewish Heritage Month: She sang
two songs and received a standing ovation,
initiated by Michelle Obama.
It was a long road to get there. Her
trek to the top of her profession began in
Moscow, where she spent her first nine
years. Her mother taught music in a col-
lege. Her father was an amateur violinist.
She grew up listening to classical music,
learning to play on an upright piano.
Her father collected and traded cassette
recordings of rock bands, which Regina
also enjoyed.
In 1989, the family decided to emigrate
because of the discrimination that Jews
faced in Russia, traveling first to Italy,
then Austria, before coming to the United
States with the assistance of the Hebrew
Immigrant Aid Society.
The Spektors settled in the Bronx, where
Regina attended a Jewish middle school.
She also attended a yeshiva in Paramus,
N.J., for two years before switching to a
public high school. She studied classical
piano until she was 17, practicing on a
piano in the basement of a synagogue. She
also practiced on tabletops.
Although she would make up songs
around the house, Spektor's interest in
songwriting developed during a visit to
Israel with the Nesiya Institute. She wrote
her first a cappella songs at age 16 and her
first songs for voice and piano at 17.
She completed the four-year studio
composition program of the Conservatory
of Music at Purchase College in New York
in three years, graduating in 2001. She
also studied in England for one semester

On her sixth CD, Spektor returns to

her roots.

and worked briefly at a butterfly farm in
She gradually gained recognition for
her performances in cafes in New York
City. She sold self-published CDs at her
shows. In 2004, she signed a contract with
Warner Brothers' Sire Records to publish
her third album, Soviet Kitsch, originally
self-released in 2003.
She has said that she never aspired to
write songs, but the songs just seemed to
come to her. Her compositions are usu-
ally not autobiographical but based on
characters and scenarios drawn from her
imagination. She has said that she works
to ensure that each song has its own musi-
cal style, rather than trying to develop a
single, unified style.
Her lyrics are quirky, somewhat like
short stories. She usually sings in English,
but sometimes includes other languages.
Themes include love, death, life in New York
City; and biblical and Jewish references.

Capturing Her Range
What We Saw from the Cheap Seats,
Spektor's sixth CD, showcases the breadth
of her musical styles with a wide assort-
ment of tempos and moods, mixing the
strange with the melodic, pop and classi-
cal, soft ballads and harder-edged tunes.
The album engages the mind with
poetic lyrics. And those who enjoy analyz-
ing their music will find themselves pick-
ing out the melded influences — Jewish,
Russian, reggae, Beatles, from playful to
ominous, sweet to sarcastic — sometimes
in the same song.
"Oh, Marcello" weaves Italian lyrics with
lines from an old Animals tune. "Small
Town Moon" shifts gears from piano bal-
lad to rocker to vocals with hand claps and
back again, tied together with what seems
to be partly improvisational vocals.
Spektor's fans are calling her newest CD
a return to form. Her previous collection,
Far, ventured closer to pop music than
some of her more devoted fans preferred.
While the new CD includes flashes of
pop, its ever-changing nature is truer to
Spektor's roots.
For those who find a catchy pop tune
irresistible, check out "Don't Leave Me
(Ne Me Quitte Pas)" or the less-than-two-
minute, vocal-and-acoustic-guitar pop
waltz, "Jessica!' And those who are finding
it hard to pick someone to vote for this
year may especially appreciate her "Ballad
of a Politician."
The Detroit show is part of a mini-U.S.
tour before Spektor travels to Australia and
New Zealand in December. Her upcom-
ing show at the Sydney Opera House in
December sold out in just minutes.

Regina Spektor performs at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Oct.13, at the Fillmore
Detroit. Doors open at 7 p.m. All
ages welcome. Main floor: general
admission standing-room only; mez-
zanine: reserved; balcony: gen-
eral admission seating. Tickets are
$25-$49.50 and are on sale at the
Fillmore box office (open on event
days two hours prior to door time
and on Fridays from 12 p.m-6 p.m.),
Livenation.com and at Ticketmaster

October 4 • 2012


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