Suzanne Vega was the first major figure in the bumper crop of female singer/songwriters who rose to prominence during the late '80s and '90s. Her hushed, restrained folk-pop and highly literate lyrics (inspired chiefly by Leonard Cohen, as well as Lou Reed and Bob Dylan) laid the initial musical groundwork for what later became the trademark sound of Lilith Fair (a tour on which she was a regular). Moreover, her left-field hit single "Luka" helped convince record companies that folk-styled singer/songwriters were not a thing of the past after all, paving the way for breakthroughs by Tracy Chapman, Michelle Shocked, Shawn Colvin, Edie Brickell, the Indigo Girls, Sinéad O'Connor, and a host of others throughout the '90s. Vega's early commercial success helped open doors for a wealth of talent, and even if she couldn't sustain the level of popularity she reached in 1987 with "Luka" and the platinum Solitude Standing, she maintained a strong and dedicated cult following. Her association with -- and marriage to -- experimental producer Mitchell Froom during the '90s resulted in two intriguing but uneven albums; however, following their painful divorce, Vega returned in 2001 with her first album in five years, Songs in Red and Gray, which was greeted with her strongest reviews in a decade.