Regina Spektor (born 18.2.1980)
Regina Spektor is a Soviet-American songwriter, singer and pianist. She is widely associated with New York's anti-folk scene.
Regina Spektor: Childhood
Regina Spektor was born in Moscow. Her Jewish parents were both musical - her father Ilya is an amateur violinist and her mother, Bella was a music professor and now teaches at a public school in New York.
Regina learned piano as a child, practicing on a Petrof piano that was a present to her mother from her grandfather. Although she was forced to leave the piano behind when the family emigrated, both of her parents felt that it was better to leave behind the discrimination that they faced as a Jewish family in USSR.
Whilst she grew up in New York, Regina Spektor studied classical piano at the Manhattan School of Music, taught by Sonia Vargas, until the age of 17. Outside of the college, Spektor practiced on the piano at her local synagogue.
Regina Spektor: Career
Whilst on a trip to Israel, Regina Spektor was introduced to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco and at the age of 16, she started writing songs. In 2001, she graduated with honours from the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College.
When Spektor began performing her songs publicly, she would play at New York venues such as the Sidewalk Café in the East Village, the Living Room and the Knitting Factory.
Having sold a couple of self-made albums at gigs (11:11 in 2001 and Songs in 2002), Regina Spektor signed to Sire Records, who released her third album, Soviet Kitsch, which she had originally self-released in 2003.
Spektor has always made a number of literary allusions in her work, to writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and F. Scott Fitzgerald. She has counted artists such as Billie Holiday, Chopin and Tom Waits amongst her influences. She has also covered songs by Madonna, Leonard Cohen and John Lennon as part of her live repertoire.
Regina Spektor's first major tour came in 2003 when she supported The Strokes on their 'Room On Fire' tour. During the tour, she recorded the song 'Modern Girls & Old Fashion Men' with them.
In 2005, Spektor supported Keane when they toured North America. She has also appeared on a number of popular TV shows such as Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In 2006, Regina Spektor released the album Begin to Hope, followed by Far in 2009. Many of her songs have been used in soundtracks and on TV advertisements, including ITV's Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Vodafone's TV advertising campaign. She also performed for Oscar de la Renta's catwalk show in New York in 2008. Regina also performed 'The Call' in the final sequence of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. In 2009, 'Better' was used in My Sister's Keeper, starring Cameron Diaz - based on a novel Jodi Picoult.