Phoebe Ann Laub - AKA Phoebe Snow - was born in New York City, New York and grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey. Snow was raised in a household where Delta blues, Broadway show tunes, Dixieland jazz, classical music, and folk music recordings were played all the time. Her father, Merrill Laub, had an encyclopedic knowledge of American film and theater. Her mother, Lili Laub, was a dance teacher who had performed with the Martha Graham group.
Phoebe used to carry her prized Martin 00018 acoustic guitar from club to club in Greenwich Village, playing and singing on amateur nights. Her stage name is a fictional advertising character created in the early 1900s for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad-Phoebe Snow was a young woman who appeared on boxcars. Snow took voice lessons, and studied opera informally.
It was at The Bitter End club in 1972 that Denny Cordell, a promotions executive for Shelter Records, was so taken by the singer that he signed her to the label and produced her first recording. She released a self-titled album, Phoebe Snow, in 1974. Featuring guest performances by The Persuasions, Zoot Sims, Teddy Wilson, David Bromberg, and Dave Mason. Snow sold over a million copies in the U.S. and became one of the most acclaimed recordings of the era. It spawned a Top Five single on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Poetry Man" and was itself a Top Five album in Billboard. It won Snow a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, and established her as a respected singer/songwriter. The cover of Rolling Stone magazine followed.
During the 1975 SNL appearance, she was seven months pregnant with her daughter. She was briefly married to Phil Kearns, and in December 1975 she gave birth to a severely brain-injured daughter, Valerie Rose. She cared for her at home until Valerie died on March 18, 2007 at the age of 31. Snow's efforts to care for Valerie nearly ended her career.
Snow's backup vocal is heard on Paul Simon's hit song "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" along with Valerie Simpson and Patti Austin. She also duets with him on the song gospel-tinged "Gone At Last." Both songs appear on Simon's Grammy-winning 1975 album Still Crazy After All These Years.
Legal battles took place between Snow and Shelter Records, and Snow ended up signed to Columbia Records. Her second album, Second Childhood, appeared in 1976, produced by Phil Ramone. It was jazzier and more introspective, but did not sell well. Snow moved to a harder sound for It Looks Like Snow, released later in 1976. 1977 saw Never Letting Go, again with Ramone, while 1978's Against the Grain was produced by Barry Beckett. After that Snow parted ways with Columbia.
In 1981, Snow, now signed with Mirage Records, released Rock Away, recorded with members of Billy Joel's band; it spun off the Top 50 hit "Games."
Snow would now spend long periods away from recording, often singing commercial jingles for AT&T and others in order to support herself and her daughter.
During the 1980s she also battled her own life-threatening illness. Snow returned to recording with Something Real in 1989 and gathered a few more hits on the Adult Contemporary charts.
In 1990, she contributed a cover version of the Delaney & Bonnie song "Get Ourselves Together" to the Elektra compilation Rubáiyát which included Earth Wind & Fire guitarist Dick Smith. Even when she was not recording her own works, Phoebe continued to tour extensively as a solo artist throughout North America, Great Britain, Germany, and the Far East.
Snow has performed with a numerous artists including Lou Rawls, Jewel, Donald Fagen, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Queen, Jackson Browne, Dave Mason, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs, Cyndi Lauper, Roger Daltrey, Chaka Khan, Michael Bolton, Thelma Houston, Mavis Staples and Laurie Anderson. She also sings the title track on the 1997 Laura Nyro tribute album, Time and Love, and joined the pop group, Zap Mama, who recorded its own version of "Poetry Man," in an impromptu duet on the PBS series, "Sessions At West 54th."
In May 1998, Snow received New York City's Cultural Achievement Award. She was also the recipient of a Don Kirschner Rock Award, several Playboy Music Poll Awards, New York Music Awards and the Clio Award.
In 2003, Snow released her album Natural Wonder on Eagle Records, containing ten original tracks, her first original material in fourteen years.
Snow appeared in the film Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom as herself. Some of her music was also featured on the soundtrack of the film.
Snow suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on January 19, 2010 and slipped into a coma, enduring bouts of blood clots, pneumonia, and congestive heart failure. Snow died on April 26, 2011 at age 60 in Edison, New Jersey. Prior to her stroke, Snow had planned to release a new album in 2010, and had been scheduled to begin touring with her band in March.