Monday, February 18, 2008

Regina Spektor

Happy Birthday Regina Spektor (Russian: Регина Спектор; born February 18, 1980) is a Soviet-born American singer-songwriter and pianist. Her music is associated with the anti-folk scene centered on New York City's East Village. Spektor was born in Moscow, USSR, to a musical Jewish family. Her father, Ilya Spektor is a photographer and amateur violinist. Her mother was a music professor in a Russian college of music, and now teaches at a public elementary school in Mount Vernon, New York.
Spektor learned how to play piano by practicing on a Petrof that was given to her mother by her grandfather. She was also exposed to the music of rock and roll bands such as The Beatles, Queen, and The Moody Blues by her father, who obtained such recordings in Eastern Europe and traded cassettes with friends in the Soviet Union. The family left the Soviet Union in 1989, when Regina was nine, during the period of Perestroika, when Soviet citizens were permitted to emigrate. Unfortunately, Regina had to leave her piano behind. The seriousness of her piano studies led her parents to consider not leaving the USSR, but they finally decided to emigrate, due to the ethnic and political discrimination which Jews faced.

Traveling first to Austria and then Italy, the family settled in the Bronx, New York, where Spektor graduated from the SAR Academy, a middle Jewish day school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. She then attended high school for two years on a scholarship at the Frisch School, a yeshiva in Paramus, New Jersey, but, feeling out of place, eventually transferred to a secular public school, Fair Lawn High School, in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, where she finished the last two years of her high school career.

Spektor has stated that she was originally interested only in classical music, but that she later became interested in hip hop, rock and punk as well.

Spektor's first nationwide tour was accompanying The Strokes as the opening act on their 2003–2004 Room on Fire tour, during which she and the band performed and recorded "Modern Girls & Old Fashion Men." Kings of Leon were the second opening act on that tour, and they invited Regina to open for them on their own European tour right after The Strokes tour. In June 2005 Spektor was the opening act for the English piano rock band Keane on their North American tour, during which she performed at Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2005. During her headlining 2006 tour in support of the Begin to Hope album, Spektor sold out two shows at Town Hall Theater in New York City in September on the 27th and 28th.

Subsequently, she has appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien (twice), The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (twice), Jimmy Kimmel Live, Last Call with Carson Daly (five times), Late Show with David Letterman, CBS News Sunday Morning, Good Morning America and Australia's Rove Live. Since January 2005, Spektor has performed on a bright red Baldwin baby grand piano. She also plays a turquoise Epiphone Wildkat archtop hollow-body electric guitar.

# 2001 - 11:11 (Self-released)
# 2002 - Songs (Self-released)
# 2003/2004 - Soviet Kitsch (Self-released/Shoplifter/Sire)
# 2005 - Live at Bull Moose EP (Sire)
# 2006 - Mary Ann Meets the Gravediggers and Other Short Stories (Transgressive)
# 2006 - Begin to Hope (Sire)
# 2007 - Live in California 2006 EP (Sire)

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