MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK: And I'm Melissa Block.

(Soundbite of song, "Poetry Man")

Ms. PHOEBE SNOW (Singer): (Singing) Oh, talk to me some more. You don't have to go. You're the Poetry Man. You make things all right. Yeah, yeah.

BLOCK: In 1975, Phoebe Snow went to the top of the charts with this song, "Poetry Man." Snow died this morning at her home in Edison, New Jersey, of complications from a brain hemorrhage she suffered last year. She was 60 years old.

Phoebe Snow's powerful, idiosyncratic voice connected with millions of listeners.

NPR's Neda Ulaby has this remembrance.

NEDA ULABY: Count among those moved by Phoebe Snow's hit another powerful female musician, Queen Latifah.

QUEEN LATIFAH (Singer/Actress): My mom played "Poetry Man" a lot when I was a kid in the house. I mean, she played that album endlessly.

ULABY: Queen Latifah's mom, Rita Owens, played it every Saturday while cleaning house.

Ms. RITA OWENS: I just love the song so much, the melody. And Phoebe Snow had such a unique voice.

(Soundbite of song, "Poetry Man")

Ms. SNOW: (Singing) You make me laugh 'cause your eyes, they light the night. They look right through me.

ULABY: Phoebe Snow was born Phoebe Ann Laub. She actually thought she'd never be a singer because she was so shy. She told NPR in 1998 she made up a name for the hammy part of herself, the part unafraid to get up on stage in Greenwich Village coffeehouses.

(Soundbite of archived interview)

Ms. SNOW: Large Marge because I would just send Phoebe to the sideline and say, OK, you, you're too scared. You go sit down. We have to send out Large Marge.

ULABY: Phoebe Snow was no wispy pop princess when she landed on the cover of Rolling Stone after "Poetry Man's" success. She was baby-faced, big, with a crop of curls. Some people couldn't tell if she was black or white. Her parents were Jewish, music lovers who made sure she could play piano and guitar. But Snow's four-octave voice could handle anything.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. SNOW: (Singing) I got a little religion, and I'm not ashamed. Somebody in heaven wrote down my name.

ULABY: Phoebe Snow recorded 16 albums. Jim Chapdelaine co-produced one of her last.

Mr. JIM CHAPDELAINE (Producer): She could be that sensitive "Poetry Man" kind of singer, or she could be this rip-roaring flamethrower of a voice that was staggering.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. SNOW: (Singing) I'm going home.

Mr. CHAPDELAINE: It's even hard for me to find the right microphone to even keep up with her. There was never anything emotionally unauthentic about what she was doing.

ULABY: Soon after her first flush of success, Phoebe Snow had a daughter named Valerie, born with multiple disabilities. Doctors predicted Valerie would barely survive a few years. Then Snow's husband left her. Her child became her priority.

(Soundbite of archived interview)

Ms. SNOW: The great thing about my daughter is that she is very courageous human being, and she's funny. She has a great sense of humor. She's the most affectionate person I've ever known. I get hugged 30 times a day until my head almost falls off, and I can't think of a better way for anybody to spend their life than to be loved so beautifully and unconditionally. She's my hero.

ULABY: Snow was promoting an album with that interview, all covers. She picked one song because it summed up her feelings about Valerie.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. SNOW: (Singing) I'll do you right, darling. I'll be with you for the long haul. You're all I do it for.

ULABY: Valerie died four years ago at the age of 31.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

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