Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega’s most recent album is “An Evening of New York Songs and Stories,” recorded in 2018 during her two-week residency at New York’s Carlyle Café. (George Holz/Contributor)

Returning to the Musical Instrument Museum Saturday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct. 2, Suzanne Vega was moved by previous visits. 

“It’s a beautiful place,” Vega said. “I remember all the beautiful instruments and what they look like. I began my Instagram account there — however long ago it was.”

Vega’s shows are dubbed “An Intimate Evening of Songs and Stories.” They will feature her on acoustic guitar and her musical director, Gerry Leonard, on guitar.

“He uses a fair amount of electronics,” she said. “It ranges from very acoustic to some of the produced songs. We do the remix version of ‘Tom’s Diner’ and ‘Luka.’ We do a lot of songs people know and a couple of new things. We love it. It’s been great to get back on the road again.”

Vega recently sent to cinemas her one-woman stage show about the life of 20th century American writer Carson McCullers in the Michael Tully-directed “Lover, Beloved.” 

The film debuted at SXSW in March. For the trailer, visit

“It started with an acting exercise that I was given in college a long, long time ago,” she said with a laugh. 

“I had seen a picture of Carson McCullers back then and I knew one or two of her stories. I remember we sort of look alike.”

She thought McCullers would be an ideal character to play. When her college professor asked the class to come in dressed as a notable figure, Vega appeared as McCullers. 

“I had to be ready to field questions as if I was on a television show,” she said. “We had to really inhabit them. I really got way into her. I ended up doing my senior thesis on her, her work and her life and how they commingled. 

“It’s been a lifelong challenge to put her life and work on a stage in a one-woman show. It’s something I’ve gone back to time and time again. The film is the end of that journey with Carson. I’m way older than she was she died. I thought it’s time to put this down. It’s been such a pleasure and real interesting exercise for me. I’ve loved it.”

The film features music by singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik, who won Tony Awards for “Spring Awakening.”

“He’s great. It was great working with him,” she said. “It was very inspiring. He pushed me way out of my comfort zone. He has a very different sense of melody than I do. I thought we were a good team. I thought we worked together well. Musically it’s thrilling to sing the work.” 

The “Lover, Beloved” project was on Vega’s bucket list, of which there are plenty of other tasks. 

“I still have more work to do before my time is up,” she said. “I feel like I have more to say, more to do. There were certain goals set for myself as a teenager and I’ve spent my life trying to fulfill all of those goals. 

“I had a lot of interests as a child. I used to draw. I used to sculpt. I made busts out of clay. I studied dance for 10 years. I’ve done all kinds of other training — martial arts, the swim team for a while. It was a challenge for me as a kid to express the feelings and ideas of the moment as well as express myself emotionally and personally.” 

Vega hopes to move more on stage and be more present when she sings. Acting helped with that goal. 

“It’s the whole process of acting to make the emotion alive in the moment on the stage,” Vega said. “It’s surprisingly draining. The film is an hour and 15 minutes. The one-woman show is an hour and 45 minutes. It’s me up there holding on to the audience as someone else. I couldn’t ad lib or change the order of things. I had to commit myself to the moment.” 

She hopes to write a book as well, to follow up to 1999’s “The Passionate Eye: The Collected Writing of Suzanne Vega.” 

“I’d like to write something a little more narrative,” she said. “I’d love to draw again. I fooled around with painting, but I can’t do everything.”

Suzanne Vega 

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, and 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2

WHERE: Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix

COST: Tickets start at $54.50