Obituary from San Jose Mercury News as provided by Find a Grave contributor Martie Martin.
SUSAN UDELL , SINGER AND SONGWRITER HER PAINFUL ANTHEMS WERE SLOWLY DRAWING A FOLLOWING.
Born: Feb. 27, 1962, Marlborough, Mass.
Died: Feb. 2, 1994, Mountain View, Calif.
Susan Udell wrote songs about pain, and she sang songs about sadness:
I've been left with words that I couldn't say
I've been hung out to dry on a rainy day
would I have chosen to stay when my life began
if what I know now I had known back then
Album, "Unanswered Questions"
(C) 1992 Susan Udell
A singer with professional promise and a songwriter with more, Ms. Udell brought her guitar west from Massachusetts and Connecticut in the late 1980s and established herself as a folk singer in the style of Nanci Griffith, of Mary-Chapin Carpenter.
She performed regularly at Portofino Cafe in Pacific Grove, at St. Michael's Alley restaurant in Palo Alto, at Plowshares coffee house in San Francisco.
She found the folk atmosphere at all-volunteer public radio station KKUP to her liking.
Dave Borough, a musician and programmer, had Ms. Udell as a guest on his show, and soon she became a regular at the station, not only performing at fund-raising marathons but also handling the phones and helping out wherever needed.
Barbara Scott, who describes herself as a "two-bit promoter," heard Ms. Udell and lined up a concert for her at Park Hall in Ben Lomond. "She was a joy to work with," Scott said. "She was the first person there, helping to haul equipment," even though she was not much over 5 feet tall and 100 pounds.
In 1991, Ms. Udell cut her first recording, "Coast to Coast," which was "one of the most requested on my program," Meyer said. "This album deserves recognition from coast to coast."
The Gryphon Gazette trade publication reviewed it this way: "The best instrument is Susan's voice -- clear and distinct with perfect pitch."
Ms. Udell could do an opening act for such nationally known artists as Leo Kottke, Greg Brown and Peter Rowan, and gain recognition from the Strawberry Music Festival near Yosemite and from Rounder Records in Massachusetts, but she could not support herself solely by her music. During the day, she worked as a house cleaner. It paid her well enough.
Before coming to California, she had contracted endometriosis, a reproductive disease that can be relatively benign, or life-threatening. For Ms. Udell, it had become increasingly painful, and she had undergone repeated operations.
She knew the pain she sang about, said Lisa Burns, her housemate for five years, but she managed, and she kept it from her acquaintances:
Every time the devil struck me down
I got back on my feet to fight another round
and for all that I've wanted there's not much that I'll need
when my body has left me and my soul has been freed
Ms. Udell had major surgery last March, and then she also developed chronic fatigue syndrome. She grew too weak to work to earn the money to pay for her increasingly costly health insurance that could give her the rest to regain her strength to work.
Still, last year, her second album, "Unanswered Questions," was released.
She arranged an East Coast tour in October, and it was a success. She got to visit her son, Michael Fischer, and see that he was well:
This life will go by like the turning of pages
the book that we write will be read through the ages
it's an uphill climb to a place I can't see
and I'm running in circles hoping I will find me
When she returned her illnesses grew worse.
She was planning a tour in March to Oregon but Ms. Udell was growing weaker. She died at home, alone.
A spokesman for the Santa Clara County Coroner's Office said the immediate cause of death was asphyxiation. Susan Anne Udell was 31.
There's no choice to make but the one I've been given
I'll follow the script of this life that I'm living
I could have it all and still not have enough
to keep me from goin when the going gets tough
Survived by: Son, Michael Fischer of Warren, Conn.; father, Robert C. Udell of Goshen, Conn.; mother, Patricia Udell of Newton, Conn.; sisters, Karen Howard of Goshen, Barbara Chute of Bowdoin, Maine, and Licia Sas of Norwich, Conn.; grandparents, Herman and Mary McNeill of Newton, Mass.; two nieces and a nephew.
Memorial at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Joseph Church, 582 Hope St., Mountain View.
Donations may be made to the Michael Fischer Scholarship Fund, c/o First National Bank of Litchfield, Litchfield, Conn. 06759.
San Jose Mercury News (CA)
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