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Dayna Kurtz, Finding Herself in a Lost Era

Dayna Kurtz's Beautiful Yesterday.
Dayna Kurtz's Beautiful Yesterday.

Dayna Kurtz's vocal style is as varied as her musical influences. From Ray Charles and Tom Waits to Nina Simone and Prince, the Brooklyn-born singer and songwriter finds inspiration in almost every type of genre. Kurtz's own music is hard to categorize, and her rich and smoky alto can easily switch from a sensual croon to a blues howl.

She's still building an audience at home, but Kurtz has already gained widespread acclaim from fans and critics in Europe with her 2002 debut, Postcards from Downtown -- a top seller in Holland.

NPR's Brian Naylor recently spoke with Kurtz about her new CD, Beautiful Yesterday. With interpretations of songs from artists such as Sam Cooke and Leonard Cohen, as well as her own compostions, Beautiful Yesterday has "an overriding theme of nostalgia for a lost era, lost youth, and lost love," says Kurtz. The album also features a duet with singer Norah Jones and a performance by the string quartet Ethel.

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