Regina Spektor's Early Life in Soviet Russia:
Regina Spektor was born February 18, 1980 in Moscow, Russia. Spektor's father was an amateur violinist and her mother was a music professor. Young Regina began learning classical piano at the age of 6. Her father also provided access to classic rock music through cassettes of bands such as the Beatles, Queen, and the Moody Blues.
Immigration to the U.S.:
Regina Spektor's family left Soviet Russia in 1989 when the policy of perestroika allowed Russian Jews to emigrate. The family went first to Austria and then to Italy, but they ultimately settled in New York's the Bronx. Regina Spektor graduated from a Jewish middle school and attended a Jewish high school in New Jersey for 2 years before spending her final high school years at a secular high school in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
Regina Spektor kept up her piano studies after moving to the US and, with the encouragement of friends, she realized as a teenager she had a talent for writing songs. She looked to artists such as Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco for inspiration. Regina Spektor graduated with honors from a four-year musical composition program at the Purchase College Conservatory of Music after just three years in 2001.
Regina Spektor's Musical Style:
The word eclectic is the most appropriate term to describe the music of Regina Spektor. She is considered part of the anti-folk movement that combines the attitudes and subject matter of punk music with sounds from American folk music. However, Spektor also brings in influences from jazz, classical, hip hop, and even Russian folk music. She has said in interviews that she prefers to give each of her songs its own musical style instead of maintaining a singular style across her music.
Getting Noticed as a Recording Artist:
Regina Spektor's first two albums 11:11 and Songs were self-released but, after performing in every possible venue from house parties to comedy clubs, she began developing a following in New York. Among those who noticed were They Might Be Giants' drummer Alan Bezozi and the Strokes' producer Gordon Raphael. They assisted with the recording of the third self-released album Soviet Kitsch which gained a re-release when Regina Spektor signed with Sire Records.
Widespread Exposure and Pop Breakthrough:
Beginning in 2005, television producers and advertisers took notice of Regina Spektor's music. Her songs were used in television commercials and shows such as Gray's Anatomy, Veronica Mars, and Weeds. Demand for Spektor's music was high enough that Mary Ann Meets the Gravedigger and Other Stories, a compilation of her early work, was released internationally in 2006.
By the time the fourth album Begin to Hope was released in June, 2006, Regina Spektor had a significant audience waiting. In late 2006 VH1 and SIRIUS satellite radio began featuring the single "Fidelity." By December the album and single were climbing the charts.