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Suzanne Vega

January 2014

WHEN I went to Le Guardia (made famous by the TV series Fame) I had the intention of being a dancer. I wanted to study ballet. And I quickly learned that was not going to be. After about a week my teachers let me know about my limitations.

So, I was demoted to the modern dance group. That was good, actually. I loved modern dance. I made friends with a group of musicians who played for the classes. I loved what they did. I started writing songs. That’s how I made the transition from dance to music.

By the age of 16 I had a bunch of songs and started to go down to the Village (Greenwich Village in New York, famous for its folk scene during the Sixties).

But this was around the mid-Seventies and the popularity of folk music had come and gone by then. Everyone in my school was crazy about David Bowie; he was like a God. But I was still into the Dylan era and everyone thought I’d missed the boat.

I kept at it, though, for the next eight years. It took me that long to be accepted and get a record deal.

When I got the deal and had some success I was told I was so young and that it had happened so quickly.

I haven’t been to Nottingham for ten years but I have been back to the UK since then for festivals and shows at the Barbican in London.

I was seen all over the city? In a pub having treacle pudding? How do you know all this stuff? I probably mentioned it during the show. I was really into the treacle pudding. And I went to a launderette? That happens from time to time. I wasn’t relaxing; I think it was because I needed to do my laundry.

It’s called the I Never Wear White Tour because I never do. At least I try not to. I’m far more comfortable wearing black. It’s the name of a song from the new album and that says it all. There’s no hidden meaning.

The album (Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles) is my first new material in seven years but it wasn’t difficult choosing the songs for it at all. I just used the songs that were finished. It was as simple as that. I never have extra material.

The album is a lot about spirituality. I am a Buddhist and I’ve always been interested in spiritual things – even more so these days.

As one gets older, more people start to pass on and you witness more births. You see more of life and wonder where it comes from and where it goes. So that’s sort of what I’ve been thinking about the last couple of years.

I’m rehearsing for the tour next week so we’ll talk about what songs we’ll be doing then but the focus will be the new material.

I’ll still do the songs that people like to hear, like Luka, Gypsy and Tom’s Diner (based on Tom’s Restaurant in New York). The last time I went there was probably the last time the BBC was in town and dragged me there to do some filming.

I don’t get anything for free there. I wish. They mention me in the menu but they’ve misspelt my name. So, it’s still as humbling an experience as ever as I hand over my few dollars for a lukewarm cup of coffee.

Suzanne Vega plays the Royal Concert Hall on Thursday, February 6. Tickets are £27 to £37.50 from the box office, call 0115 989 5555 or go to

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