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Essra Mohawk


Essra Mohawk
(born Sandra Elayne Hurvitz on April 23, 1948)

Essra is an American singer-songwriter who has recorded a dozen albums and counting, many receiving critical acclaim.
Her best known songs include "Sufferin' Til Suffrage" and "Interjections!" (both from Schoolhouse Rock!), "Change of Heart", recorded by Cyndi Lauper and "Stronger Than the Wind", recorded by Tina Turner.
essra mohawk head shot.jfif

The Essra Mohawk Biography by Charles Donovan

Singer/songwriter Essra Mohawk (b. Sandra Elayne Hurvitz, Philadelphia, PA) is a performing songwriter and recording artist whose career encompasses a who's who of popular music. In addition to releasing several critically acclaimed solo albums, she has collaborated with Al JarreauBonnie BramlettAl StewartNarada Michael Walden, and Keb' Mo'; provided background vocals for John MellencampJerry Garcia, and Kool & the Gang; and written songs for Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner. She released her first single, "The Boy with the Way" with B-side "Memory of Your Voice," on Liberty Records in 1964, under the name Jamie Carter. She later declined several offers of staff writerships, although the Shangri-Las and Vanilla Fudge began recording her material.

In 1967, Mohawk met Frank Zappa, eventually joining the Mothers of Invention, where she reluctantly assumed the moniker Uncle MeatZappa signed her to his Bizarre label (a Verve subsidiary) and her first album, Sandy's Album Is Here at Last!, appeared soon after and remains the only album released under her birth name. It was during this period that a studio receptionist friend began calling her "Essie," a nickname that quickly morphed into "Essra." In 1969 she married Frazier Mohawk, the producer of her second album, who had worked on Nico's The Marble Index. Their working relationship spawned Primordial Lovers, hailed as one of the 25 best albums ever made by Rolling Stone magazine. It missed out on wider publicity and never charted, but gradually developed a strong following over the ensuing decades.

Further interest in Mohawk's music was prompted in the mid-'70s by her appearance on Schoolhouse Rock, the popular educational and musical cartoon TV series. Her vocals were featured on "Interjections," "Sufferin' Till Suffrage," and "Mother Necessity." In 1974, Mohawk moved to the Elektra/Asylum label, where she released Essra Mohawk. The album should, by rights, have consolidated her position in the first league of singer/songwriters, but was insufficiently publicized and distributed, despite its positive reviews. Two years later, the same fate greeted her fourth album, Essra, which appeared on Private Stock. Despite such disappointments, Mohawk's reputation in musical circles was such that from 1980 to 1982 she performed as a background vocalist with the Jerry Garcia Band after narrowly missing out on joining Jefferson Starship following Grace Slick's departure in 1978.

Further solo albums Burnin' Shinin' and E-Turn appeared without great fanfare, but in 1986 Mohawk enjoyed a huge hit as the songwriter of Cyndi Lauper's Billboard number three hit "Change of Heart," from Lauper's platinum-selling True Colors album. Later in that decade Tina Turner recorded "Stronger Than the Wind," again penned by Mohawk. After ABC Video released the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons on video in the '90s, the troupe, led by music director Bob Dorough, began performing live. In 1998, Rhino released a new album, Schoolhouse Rocks the Vote!, on which Essra sang, wrote, and produced "Do You Wanna Party," about political parties in the U.S.

Having moved to Nashville, Mohawk recorded the albums Raindance and Essie Mae Hawk Meets the Killer Groove Band and then -- starting in 2000 -- her earlier material began appearing on CD. Primordial Lovers was reissued by Rhino Handmade in a luxury package including non-LP singles and the entire follow-up album that had originally appeared on Asylum. Within a few years, additional albums -- including 1976's Essra -- were released as Japanese mini-LP CDs, and E-Turn also appeared on CD. In a phase of prolific creativity, albums including You're Not Alone and Love Is Still the Answer, as well as a career roundup of rarities, Revelations of the Secret Diva, were released. Maintaining her presence in television, Essra also contributed songs to the soundtracks of CBS series Joan of Arcadia and All My Children. Mohawk remains an active live attraction and recording artist.


Year AlbumArtist All Credits Arranger Audio Production Colorist Composer Guest Artist Guitar Guitar (Acoustic) Illustrations Keyboards Liner Notes Lyricist Main Personnel Mandolin Mixing Percussion Performer Piano Primary Artist Producer Songwriter Speech/Speaker/Speaking Part Vocal Harmony Vocals Vocals (Background) 

2009Nothin' 2 LoseMarty BalinComposer

2008Not a TypoBylli CrayoneComposer

2008MiFaye WongComposer

2008Drawn to the FlameAngela SiracusaComposer

2006Love Is Still the AnswerEssra MohawkPrimary Artist, Producer, Liner Notes, Composer, Guitar (Acoustic), Keyboards, Mandolin, Piano, Vocals, Vocals (Background)

2006Back to California: Ladies & Gentlemen of the L.A. CanyonsComposer, Primary Artist

2006#1 Hits: Best of 80s Hit RadioComposer

2005The Hand of GodEllis HooksMain Personnel, Vocals, Vocal Harmony

2005Sandy's Album Is Here at Last!/Essra Mohawk/EssraEssra MohawkPrimary Artist, Composer

2005Mama Kangaroos: Philly Women Sing Captain BeefheartVocals, Primary Artist

2005Hits of the 80's [Madacy]The Countdown SingersComposer

2005Godson of SoulEllis HooksVocals (Background)

2004UncomplicatedEllis HooksVocal Harmony

2004The CollectionCyndi LauperComposer

2004Spiders from Venus: Women Cover David BowieProducer, Vocals, Keyboards, Percussion, Primary Artist

2004Different for Girls: Women Artists and Female-Fronted Bands Cover Joe JacksonProducer, Arranger, Vocals, Keyboards, Primary Artist

2004All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio SessionsJerry GarciaVocals (Background)

2003Zhi Mi Bu HuiFaye WongComposer

2003You're Not AloneEssra MohawkPrimary Artist, Mixing, Vocals, Guitar (Acoustic), Keyboards, Vocals (Background), Composer

2003The Essential Cyndi LauperCyndi LauperComposer

2003If You Get Close You Can HearJim BarileGuest Artist, Vocals

2003Great Cyndi LauperCyndi LauperComposer

2003All American CountryLorrie MorganComposer

2002Time After Time: The Best of Cyndi LauperCyndi LauperComposer

2002She's So Unusual/True ColoursCyndi LauperComposer

2002Pop and Soul Divas [Box Set]Composer

2002Hillbilly ZenJulian Dawson / Gene ParsonsComposer

2001Martha Stewart Living: Baby SleepytimeComposer

2001Franktown BluesCrudup BrothersVocals

2001Big Wide GrinKeb' Mo'Composer

2000Schoolhouse Rock! [2000 Lunchbox Set]Vocals, Performer

2000Primordial Lovers MMEssra MohawkPrimary Artist, Arranger, Illustrations, Vocals, Piano, Colorist, Composer

2000Let It Rock 1987Composer

1999Essie Mae Hawk Meets the Killer Groove BandEssra MohawkPrimary Artist, Vocals, Guitar, Songwriter

1999Best RemixesCyndi LauperComposer

1998Thinkin' About YouRita CoolidgeSongwriter, Composer

1998Schoolhouse Rocks the Vote!: A Benefit for Rock the VoteProducer, Vocals, Speech/Speaker/Speaking Part

1998Leader of the Pack [Polygram]The Shangri-LasSongwriter

1998Best of Schoolhouse RockSchoolhouse RockGuest Artist, Vocals, Performer, Primary Artist

1998Barney's Great AdventureBarneySongwriter, Composer

1997She's So Unusual/True Colors/Hat Full of StarsCyndi LauperSongwriter, Composer

1996Voice of the Heart [CD/Vinyl Single]Diana RossComposer

1996The Best of the Shangri-Las [Mercury]The Shangri-LasSongwriter

1996Schoolhouse Rock!Schoolhouse RockVocals, Performer, Primary Artist

1996Club Epic, Vol. 6Composer

1995Twelve Deadly Cyns...and Then SomeCyndi LauperSongwriter, Composer

1995Twelve Deadly Cyns [Video/DVD]Cyndi LauperComposer

1995RaindanceEssra MohawkPrimary Artist, Producer, Audio Production, Main Personnel, Vocals, Keyboards, Composer

1995Blessing in DisguiseAnnie Haslam / Annie Haslam's RenaissanceSongwriter, Composer

1993Trainwreck of EmotionLorrie MorganSongwriter, Composer

1993Broken MoonLowen & NavarroSongwriter, Composer

1992One StrikeDegrees of MotionSongwriter

1992Greatest HitsClassics IVComposer

1992Degrees of MotionDegrees of MotionSongwriter

1991Something in RedLorrie MorganSongwriter, Composer

1991So IntenseLisa FischerSongwriter, Composer

1991Ooh La LaDavid HallydayComposer

1989Foreign AffairTina TurnerSongwriter

1988The Secret DivaEssra MohawkPrimary Artist

1988My Name Is Eria FachinEria FachinSongwriter

1988I Love You AvenueNick HeywardComposer

1988Everything's Kool & the Gang: Greatest Hits & MoreKool & the GangArranger

1986True ColorsCyndi LauperSongwriter, Composer

1986Change of HeartCyndi LauperSongwriter

1985E-TurnEssra MohawkPrimary Artist

1982Run for the RosesJerry GarciaMain Personnel, Vocals (Background)

1982Movin' OnMcFadden & WhiteheadSongwriter, Composer

1982Burnin' Shinin'Essra MohawkPrimary Artist

1981Bobby & the MidnitesBob WeirSongwriter, Composer

1977Lost Without Your LoveBreadComposer

1976EssraEssra MohawkPrimary Artist, Keyboards, Composer

1975Essra MohawkEssra MohawkPrimary Artist, Composer, Lyricist, Vocals, Piano, Keyboards

1970Primordial LoversEssra MohawkPrimary Artist, Arranger, Vocals, Piano, Keyboards, Composer

1968RenaissanceVanilla FudgeSongwriter, Composer

1967Sandy's Album Is Here at Last!Sandy HurvitzPrimary Artist, Vocals, Keyboards

1964The Boy with the Way/Memory of Your VoiceEssra MohawkPrimary Artist

The One and Only Essra MohawkEssra MohawkPrimary Artist

Stronger than the WindTina TurnerComposer

Revelations of the Secret DivaEssra MohawkPrimary Artist, Producer, Liner Notes, Composer, Guitar (Acoustic), Piano

Four-Beat Rhythm: The Writings of Wilhelm ReichPrimary Artist

FlashbackCyndi LauperComposer

EssraEssra MohawkPrimary Artist

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