July 17, 1952 Happy Birthday Phoebe Snow!
Phoebe was such an amazing singer.
I had been her musical director and pianist on many occasions and she always tore it up wherever we went.
One time, as a favor to me and Sam Ellis, she sang at a friend’s memorial service. Nobody knew she was coming. It was in the Helen Hayes Theatre and some people read poetry, somebody sang a folk song and the whole tone of the memorial was pretty serious.
Phoebe came out and started Amazing Grace slow and bluesy and I just followed her on this seven foot Steinway and I don’t know what happened but we both went into an uptempo version and the 300 or so people there all jumped up clapping and singing and turned this memorial service into a celebration that a few people in the industry still remember and whenever I see them we always reminisce about that moment — it was Phoebe magic.
In music there are those moments that aren’t planned when magic happens. Phoebe and I had a few of those moments. One time I was playing at the TJ MARTELL after party. All the stars were there and we were jamming. Anita Baker sang with Gavin Degraw, country artist Big And Rich sat in. Def Jam’s ALYSON Williams sang and the night was on fire.
Phoebe, who was in the back of the room had said to me earlier, “Skip, whatever you do, don’t make me sing tonight. I’m not feeling well.” But then I saw her working her way to the front of the room and she was grooving on Anita Baker singing and then she came to the piano and whispered to me, “Piece of my Heart.”
I love when singers just come up to the piano and call out any song expecting that I know it. Well, I knew this one real well. She soared through this song. It would’ve have made Janis Joplin’s jaw drop. This was the THE PHOEBE magic moment of all times.
Phoebe passed away last year and I miss her a lot. She was a fabulous mother and soul and she will always have a Piece of My Heart.