In an entertainment industry currently filled with vapid, surgically-enhanced pop stars who are routinely rewarded for their bad behavior with an ever-attentive audience, singer and songwriter Phoebe Snow truly seems like she belonged to a different era.
Snow was the folk/jazz/blues musician best known for her 1970s hit "Poetry Man," who was seemingly poised for commercial success after her best new artist Grammy nomination. Instead of pursuing her promising musical career, though, she chose to step out of the spotlight in order to care for her disabled daughter Valerie Rose, who was born severely brain-damaged in 1975.
Today, Snow passed away from complications of a brain hemorrhage she suffered in January 2010. Her manager told the AP:
The loss of this unique and untouchable voice is incalculable. Phoebe was one of the brightest, funniest, and most talented singer-songwriters of all time and, more importantly, a magnificent mother to her late brain-damaged daughter, Valerie, for 31 years. Phoebe felt that was her greatest accomplishment.
Snow added her signature voice to soul classics like "Shakey Ground," ''Love Makes a Woman," and "Mercy, Mercy Mercy." "Poetry Man," which she wrote herself, reached the Top 5 on the pop singles chart in 1975 before her daughter was born.
In a time when many disabled children were often sent to institutions, Snow chose to be her daughter's primary caretaker. Her husband left soon after the baby's birth, so she was left to care for Valerie on her own. Snow set aside her musical career to focus on Valerie's care, but she said she never regretted the decision. After her daughter died in 2007 (Valerie lived until she was 31, despite not being expected to survive past her toddler years), Snow told PopEntertainment.com:
She was my universe. She was the nucleus of everything. I used to wonder, am I missing something? No. I had such a sublime, transcendent experience with my child. She had fulfilled every profound love and intimacy and desire I could have ever dreamed of.
What a strong woman, and an amazing story. I'm not a religious person, but I'd sure like to think Phoebe is with her daughter now, in a peaceful place with no pain or suffering.
Here's Phoebe Snow singing "Poetry Man"—enjoy that lovely, lilting voice.
Image via YouTube