Suzanne Vega, an American singer-songwriter best known for her folk-inspired music, and perhaps lesser-known for being coined as ‘The Mother of the MP3’ turns 64 today.
Encouraged to write poetry by her stepdad at the age of 9, Suzanne Vega has pretty much always embodied the ultimate folk poet-artist of her generation. Especially given her unique style of songwriting, preferring to not read music (she has never learned), instead Vega sees melodies as shapes or colours, relying on collaboration to get the song where it needs to go.
Best known for her huge hits, Luka and Marlene on the Wall, Vega cemented her folk icon status by topping the charts with four singles in the late 80s and early 90s.
Among those was Toms Diner, which was originally released as a capella. Thanks to a remix by electronic duo DNA, the song went on to later become her biggest hit and became a top ten hit in over 5 countries.
What is less commonly known about Toms Diner, the original capella version from her second studio album Solitude Standing, is that it was actually used as the test for the creation of the MP3, which earned her the title ‘The Mother of the Mp3’, and that is pretty freaking awesome.
In 2011, Vega partnered up with Duncan Sheik to write the play about the author Carson McCullers, named Carson McCullers Talks About Love, which went on to be nominated for Outstanding Play for the 57th Annual Drama Desk Awards.
Happy 64th birthday to #SuzanneVega.
"Luka" "Tom's Diner" "Marlene on the Wall" "99.9F°" "Blood Makes Noise" "Left of Center" "Solitude Standing” “In Liverpool" “Gypsy” etc … so many brilliant songs. pic.twitter.com/DUBWIIcW0b
— Jake (the ‘80s never ended in my world) Rudh (@JakeRudh) July 11, 2023