Essra Mohawk made her 45 debut in 1964, writing and performing under her alter-alter-ego Jamie Carter, with subsequent covers by the Shangri-Las and Vanilla Fudge. A few years later Frank Zappa recruited Mohawk to join his Mothers of Invention, and made her the first signing on his new Bizarre imprint. Her 1968 debut was issued under her birth name of Sandy Hurvitz, but within the year she’d marry eccentric record producer Frazier Mohawk and change her her name for good. Ten solo albums followed, along with stints as a singer in the Schoolhouse Rock TV series, a backing vocalist for the Jerry Garcia Band, and as a collaborator with Bob Weir, Al Jarreau, and Keb’Mo’.
In 1985 Mohawk self-released E-Turn, a synth pop record highlighted by the cosmic ballad “Silver Ships,” written with Latin soulster Ronnie James during a particularly revealing acid trip. Mohawk envisioned the song as the end credits theme for a sci-fi movie about firing Earth’s nuclear and toxic waste into the sun via silver ships. Lyrical madness aside, “Silver Ships” is four-and-a-half minutes of breezy downer disco punctuated by James’ funky Flamenco solo.
In February of 1987, Cyndi Lauper scored a Billboard #3 Pop hit with Mohawk’s “Change Of Heart.” Over the years Tina Turner, Lorrie Morgan, Peabo Bryson, Lisa Fischer and others recorded songs from Mohawk’s 800+ song repertoire. Mohawk continues to work as a singer and songwriter, releasing her most recent album in 2019.
- Essra Mohawk Silver Ships