Christine Spero says that Laura Nyro has always been an influence on her music.
Though the Plainview native has made a name for herself more in the jazz world, even winning the USA Songwriting Competition's jazz category for her composition "He Wasn't Always That Way" in 2004, Spero has always had a spot in her sets for Nyro, who was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 for her work as a singer and the songwriter of hits like The 5th Dimension's "Wedding Bell Blues" and Blood, Sweat and Tears' "And When I Die."
"She is a special lady and one of the greatest writers of pop music," says Spero, calling from her home in the Catskills. "She's somewhat fallen between the cracks. It seems that a lot of people don't know her name so I'm doing what I can because I've always loved her even as a teenager."
Spero has taken that love to the next level, recording an album of Nyro's songs called "Spero Plays Nyro" (Elltone Music). Before she celebrates the record release party at Page One restaurant in Glen Cove on Friday, Spero talked about her love of Nyro.
What is it about her music that connects with you?
Her lyrics are just so passionate and so deep. They were even deeper than I could comprehend at the time being just a kid from Long Island. . . . She just used a whole different structure of chords than I had been used to playing. She reorganized the chords in such a way that they sounded so different and mysterious.
And you shared a love of John Coltrane's work with her.
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Yes, in fact, I've written a new song called "Laura and John," and it's on the new CD. It's the only original, and it's my homage to her and John Coltrane and her deep connection to the jazz world.
Your show in Glen Cove will also feature Steve Katz from Blood, Sweat and Tears.
She loved Blood, Sweat and Tears. . . . She was asked to be the lead singer at one point, though she ended up not doing it. But Steve Katz was a good friend of hers, and he's going to be there to talk about some of the stories he has about Laura. I think we'll do one of his songs. .... It will be all Laura Nyro that day.