June 1, 2005

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My name is Luka
Suzanne Vega comes to Manchester
By Richie Victorino  rvictorino@hippopress.com

Having Suzanne Vega as a part of the Concerts for the Cause benefit concert series seemed natural, seeing as Vega’s first hit, “Luka,” is about child abuse.

“When people found out we got her, we got a lot of calls from people who were like, ‘Wow, it’s about time,’” said Kat Strange, Communications Director for Child and Family Services.

Vega was a part of the female folk/pop-singer movement before there ever was a movement. She saw huge success with “Luka,” a quiet yet powerful song about child abuse. She also saw huge success for her quirky “Tom’s Diner.” Yet she has always opted to stay clear of the beaten path, choosing to live her life, and run her career, by her own standards rather than by the will of someone else.

Suzanne, you come across as someone who is still … normal … despite your success. Is that hard?
No, not really. Most people who know me say I’m grounded, which is interesting because when I was growing up I was considered … to have a very active interaction with fantasy life. But especially now, as a mother, a lot of my time is spent in the real world.

I’m going to ask you about “Luka” now. For starters, does it ever get a bit tiresome to have people keep asking you about a song that’s so old?
No, because it meant a lot. It’s a very special song … about child abuse, and it really resonates with a lot of people, unfortunately, but that keeps it alive.

How did that song come to light?
There was a kid named Luka who lived in my building, who was not abused as far as I know. But I just saw him one day and said, ‘What if he were abused?’ It just came from that.

You used to crash at Ani DiFranco’s house when she was a child?
Yeah, she was 11 … I was 24. You could see even then that that she was very creative. She used to come out to the bar we’d go to, Nietzsche’s [in Buffalo, N.Y.], and I used to think, “well that’s odd to see,” since she was so young.

Is there anything new happening with your career?
Well, I just signed a record deal with Blue Note. That’s been like a week old, so I’m excited about that. I’m working on new songs. I’ll probably play a few new tunes at the show. And I’m working on a new album that will hopefully come out this fall.

The cause
These Concerts for the Cause are the biggest fundraisers for Child and Family Services. CFS has organized the Concerts for the Cause for 21 years, bringing acts such as Tom Rush, Joan Osborne and, more recently, America to Concord, Vega to Manchester and Don McLean to Lebanon.

CFS provides adoption services, runaway and homeless youth programs and a family support program.

“There are a lot of families struggling who just need a little help from their friends in the community,” Strange said. “When we tell people how many homeless youth we served, just in the Manchester area last year (2000 homeless youth), people are surprised. It’s easy to put the blinders on.”

Homelessnesscan also be couch surfing, or what Strange called being on the brink of homelessness.


Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com

See Suzanne
Suzanne Vega performs at the Palace Theatre on Friday, June 2, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39 and can be purchased at the Palace Theatre box office, located at 80 Hanover St., Manchester, or by calling 668-5588.
For more information on CFS, go to www.cfsnh.org or call 800-640-6486 ext. 153.
Courtesy photo.