LEWISTON — Suzanne Vega, a
singer-songwriter who became famous with her 1987 hit song, “Luka,” will serve a two-day residency at Bates College, hosting two workshops on Friday and performing in back-to-back concerts on Saturday night.

“She’s still active, and she’s still relevant,” said Seth Warner, who directs Bates’ Olin Arts Center and is overseeing the musician’s visit. Vega’s explorations across genres, especially hip hop, ought to make her interesting to Bates’ students, he said.

Vega plans to lead a discussion on creative writing at 2:45 p.m. and a workshop on the business of the arts at 4:30 p.m. Both free sessions on Friday will be held in the Olin Concert Hall and will be open to the public. 

The following night’s concerts will be held at 7 and 9:30 p.m. at the arts center. Admission is $15 for the general public and $5 for seniors and students.

Warner hopes to fill the arts center for each appearance, he said.

It was his idea to hire Vega for the residency after attending several shows in New York City, scouting possible performers for the school’s concert series.

“I’d listened to her music in high school and college,” he said. “But I’d never seen her live.” In person, he witnessed her make a strong connection with her audience, sharing her experiences and investing herself in the performance.

Her work should translate even to students who are unfamiliar with her work, he said. After all, most were born after Vega’s 1980s peak. But the artist continues to put out new material.

Vega is currently working on a four-CD series of recordings to be titled “Close Up,” according to a podcast Vega recorded for the American Songbook series of concerts at New York’s Lincoln Center. The first, a collection of love songs, is due out next month.

Vega was born in Santa Monica, Calif., but grew up in New York’s Spanish Harlem and upper West Side, according to a biography on her Web site, www.suzannevega.com.

At age 11 she picked up a guitar and as a teenager she started to write songs. She studied dance at the famous High School for the Performing Arts and later attended Barnard College where she majored in English Literature, according to the biography. 

Though her first album sold well — spawning hit “Marlene on the Wall” in England — her second album, “Solitude Standing” in 1987  made her a musical force. It was nominated for three Grammy awards including Record of the Year and went platinum. It contained the song “Luka,” about an abused boy, and “Tom’s Diner.” A remix of the latter song, given an electronic dance beat, became a precursor to the hip hop music that took over much of the 1990s music scene and continues today.

Her last album, “Beauty & Crime,” was released in 2007. It won a Grammy award for best engineered, non-classical album.

Suzanne Vega at Bates College
On Friday
Creative writing session, 2:45 p.m.
Business of the arts,  4:30 p.m.
Free admission
On Saturday
Concerts at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for general admission and $5 for seniors and students. Purchase may be done online at www.batestickets.com.
For more
information, contact 207-786-6135 or email [email protected]
All events are scheduled for the Olin Arts Center.

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