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Singer of 'Poetry Man' dies

Phoebe Snow, a singer and songwriter who gained fame with her 1974 self-titled album that featured the hit single "Poetry Man," has died. She was 60.

Snow died Tuesday in Edison, N.J., her longtime friend and public relations representative, Rick Miramontez, said. She had suffered a brain hemorrhage in January 2010.

The album "Phoebe Snow" turned the singer, blessed with a multi-octave range, into a star. She made the cover of Rolling Stone, appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and was nominated for a Grammy Award as best new artist.

Rolling Stone described her original compositions on "Phoebe Snow" as "light jazz torch songs" but freer in form and attitude. (Two other songs on the album were her versions of others' material.)

Snow was hard to categorize musically; a Los Angeles Times reviewer early in her career called her style "a helter-skelter amalgam of pop, jazz, blues, gospel and folk." She explained to the New York Times in 2003, "No creative person should ever produce the same thing over and over."

But Snow was never able to duplicate her early commercial success. Her career took a back seat to caring for her daughter, Valerie Rose Laub, born in 1975 with severe brain damage.

"It was very, very tight," Snow told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008. "Occasionally I put an album out, but I didn't like to tour, and [the albums] didn't get a lot of label support. But you know what? It didn't really matter because I got to stay home more with Valerie, and that time was precious."

She sang commercial jingles for such companies as Stouffer's and General Foods, which she said paid well.

Her daughter died in 2007. A few months later, Snow started performing again, trying to deal with her loss.

"Right now it's beyond a hole. It's a black hole," she told the Record of Bergen County, N.J., in 2008.

"I don't even know how to describe that vacancy because it was such an intense relationship. We lived together for 31 years. She was a perennial child. I was her primary caregiver We were best friends. It was beyond a loss. I don't even know what word to use."

Snow was born Phoebe Laub on July 17, 1950, in New York City and grew up in Teaneck, N.J. As a youngster she studied piano, then switched to guitar.

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