Laurie Anderson

Artist Playlists

About Laurie Anderson

The accessible avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson is a state-of-the-art storyteller. As a musician best known for technically sophisticated multimedia projects, she blends the personal and the sociopolitical, engaging audiences with comforting Midwestern tones punctuated by sly pauses. Born in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, in 1947, Anderson studied at the Art Institute of Chicago as a child and played violin with the Chicago Youth Symphony. She moved to New York in 1966 to attend Columbia University’s School of the Arts. In one early-’70s performance, she dueted with herself by eliciting voices from her tape-bow violin while wearing skates embedded in ice blocks. In 1981, Anderson’s melodically haunting self-produced single “O Superman (For Massenet)” unexpectedly went to No. 2 on the UK singles chart, earning her a seven-album deal with Warner Bros., where she was allowed to experiment with the intersections of radical art and pop pleasure. Her 1982 debut album, Big Science, contained selections from her dreamy, jokey, and beguiling eight-hour performance piece United States Live, which arrived as a five-album box set in 1984. For Strange Angels (1984), Anderson took singing lessons and temporarily shelved the pitch-lowering filter that gave her voice a masculine cast, while Bright Red (1994), a hybrid of speech and song, includes her first collaboration with longtime partner Lou Reed. After moving to classically inclined Nonesuch Records, she began working with the Kronos Quartet, with whom she won a Grammy for 2018’s Landfall, a song cycle about her experiences during Hurricane Sandy.

Glen Ellyn, IL, United States
June 5, 1947
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