BIOGRAPHY: PHOEBE HEMENWAY LEGERE, Artist, Composer, Painter, Playwright | New York, NY
Phoebe Legere is an Acadian-Abenaki performance artist, author, multi-instrumentalist, artist, and community organizer. She is a Juilliard-trained composer who underlines her philosophical and social message with music, text, movement, image and dance.Legere began her career as Resident Composer at the Wooster Group. She has had numerous academic appointments including Resident Artist at the School of Visual Arts where, in 2003, she invented a musical instrument, the Sneakers of Samothrace, a wearable computer for disabled children. Phoebe Legere sang with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, debuted at Carnegie Hall as a composer and has played with classical ensembles all over the world. She wrote an epic poem called The Waterclown about water issues and water rights which she sang with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. Legere’s work,(with music co-composed by Morgan Powell) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2001.Legere received a NYSCA grant to write The Queen of New England, an experimental multimedia opera about the Massachusetts Native American Holocaust. The opera, produced by Roulette Intermedium in 2002, featured eleven Native Americans and four classical musicians. In 2004, Leg-ere revived her 1992 political play with music: Hello Mme. President about the first female President of Color. The original cast included Rock n Roll Hall of Fame great, LaVerne Baker, with Phoebe Legere playing the First Partner. In 2013 Legere created an alternative fuel vehicle, a giant Eagle puppet entirely made out of junk. She rode it around Northern California, doing performances on the solar stage, teaching school children about the environment. The SHAMANCYCLE was the subject of her 2015 film The Shamancycle Story. Legere has recorded seventeen albums. She shoots, directs and edits her own videos. Her video for her award-winning song Marilyn Monroe.was seen by David Bowie. He invited her to open for him on his 1991 National Sound and Vision Tour.
Legere’s 2017 album Heart of Love went to #18 on the National Roots chart. She has had over a million views of her videos on Youtube.
.Legere, signed as a teen to Epic Records, has, throughout her career been a vital part of the downtown-avant-garde music and art world. Phoebe Legere was Head Writer and Host of the Roulette TV, a show about the experimental art and music. She is an Acker Award Winner and MC of the annual Acker Awards. She has recorded for Mercury Records in England and Epic, Island, Rizzoli, Funtone, ESP Disk and Einstein records in the United States.Legere is a prolific painter whose works are held in major museums and collections around the world including the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art She has performed and exhibited all over the world, from Art Basel to the Venice Biennale. A student of Larry Rivers, Hunter S. Thompson, Morton Subotnick and John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Legere is now learning from the children of low-income communities. In 2006 Legere formed the New York Underground Museum and in 2014 she broadened the mission to bring art and music to underserved children at her 501(c)3 entity Foundation for New American Art.
The press raved about Legere's recent Performance Art Musical SPEED QUEEN, which ran for 3 weeks at Dixon Place:
Her witty lyrics are matched by music that echoes the melodies of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim with dashes of Joni Mitchell. Her piano playing is accomplished and she sings superbly to recorded music as well.
“Blessed with a swinging croon as dynamic as Judy Garland’s magnetic intensity that the recalls Carol Channing, and a swaggering exuberance that would wow Ethel Merman, Phoebe Legere’s talent is the sort that uplifts sinking ships.
"Legere has outdone herself in crafting infectious tunes that set the audience bopping with delight. As a tunesmith she is Cole Porter's feminine flipside.
"Legere's delivery is of the sort that Fred Astaire used to sell a song: dashing execution wedded to precise elocution. When impersonating her lovers and their hijinks - notably Marlene Dietrich and Tallulah Bankhead - Legere shows a madcap brilliance for salty comedy that would make SNL or MAD TV blush."
“If you've never heard of Carstairs, it's probably because, like many bold women throughout history, her story has been suppressed.
That's something Carstairs and Legere have in common. ….One of the show's most powerful sequences recalls when Carstairs was nearly murdered by a German solider during WWI until she seized a rifle and dispatched him with savage fury. But when a British army officer came upon the scene, instead of commending her, he dismissed her as "just a girl." Legere also knows what it's like to be written off, and her empathy for Carstairs is obvious throughout. It's challenging to be a woman ahead of her time, but that's what led both Carstairs and Legere down such singular paths at breakneck speed. “
-THEATRE DEVELOPMENT FUND
“Bursting unto the scene as Joe to sing a few cabaret numbers, you feel enthralled by Legere who matches her character’s fierceness. Blessed with a voice that belts DRAMA!; she could transform a hum into an opus. Legere truly delivers the essence of cabaret as an art form, and test of human being’s capacity to grab attention and transform it into amazement.”
-DIANDRA REVIEWS IT ALL
“Legere’s sonorous and wide-ranging voice fills the room during the original songs, and it lends itself well to the larger-than-life characters she inhabits in the show. As Joe, she embodies an excited, gee-whiz attitude. As Marlene Dietrich, the famous movie actor and one of Joe’s lovers, she exudes a slinky, sly sexual confidence with a killer German accent. Legere’s performances as Joe and four of her lovers are hysterical and consummately performative.”
-WASHINGTON SQUARE NEWS
"I loved it" - Janet Coleman, Theater, WBAI
"Witty, high-octane mega-watt stardom, sings like an angel, plays sizzling piano and a mean accordion...she pulls out all the stops..." Patrick Christiano, Theater Life
“Phoebe Legere is the female Frank Zappa.” - Roman Kozack, Billboard Magazine
She is an American original, she's fun, she's funny, she's smart, but the main thing about her is SHE’S GOOD" - National Public Radio
“Legere plays the piano with enormous authority in a style that encompasses Chopin, blues, ragtime, bebop and beyond, and she brings to her vocal delivery a four octave range, and an extraordinary palette of tonal color and meticulous phrasing.” – Procter Thomas Lippincott , The New York Times