Widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation, Suzanne Vega emerged as a leading figure of the folk-music revival of the early 1980s when, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, she sang what has been labeled contemporary folk or neo-folk songs of her own creation in Greenwich Village clubs. Since the release of her self-titled, critically acclaimed 1985 debut album, she has given sold-out concerts in many of the world's best-known halls. In performances devoid of outward drama that nevertheless convey deep emotion, Vega sings in a distinctive, clear vibrato-less voice that has been described as "a cool, dry sandpaper-brushed near-whisper" and as "plaintive but disarmingly powerful."
A native of Santa Monica who spent much of her childhood in New York City, Vega has enjoyed a 30-year career filled with a string of critically acclaimed albums and memorable hits, ranging from her million-selling debut and the international hits "Luka" and "Tom's Diner" (both from 1987's Solitude Standing), all the way through her latest album, Close-Up Vol. 3, States of Being (2011), the third in a set of four releases featuring Vega's reinterpretations of her own music. Her neo-folk style has also ushered in a new female, acoustic, folk-pop singer-songwriter movement that includes the likes of Tracy Chapman, Shawn Colvin, and the Indigo Girls. Tonight, she takes the stage in a city that has inspired so much of her music – New York City.
Duncan Sheik broke through in the late '90s with his Top 20 single "Barely Breathing," off his Gold-certified eponymous debut album (1996). After the this runaway success, he spent much of the subsequent decade taking a breather from the usual rock singer-songwriter rituals. His focus was on albums that broke with pop music conventions, including Humming (1998), Phantom Moon (2001), Daylight (2002), and White Limousine (2006). Together with Steven Sater, he also penned the music for the Broadway sensation Spring Awakening, which won him two Tony Awards and a Grammy.
Of late, Shiek's projects have split the difference between his pop and experimental sensibilities, with a hefty dose of theatrical storytelling mixed in. His 2009 album Whisper House weaves a dramatic overarching narrative out of ten pop tunes that easily stand on their own. 2011's Duncan Sheik Covers '80s achieves this balance in a different way, featuring his highly personalized takes on classics of the synth-pop era, including smashes and obscurities from the likes of The Cure, New Order, Tears for Fears, the Smiths, the Psychedelic Furs, the Thompson Twins, Love & Rockets, Howard Jones, Japan, Talk Talk, and the Blue Nile. Tonight, he performs with neo-folk legend Suzanne Vega, with whom he collaborated on the 2011 theater production Carson McCullers Talks About Love.