Syd Straw is an American rock singer and songwriter. The daughter of actor Jack Straw (The Pajama Game), she began her career singing backup for Pat Benatar, then took her distinct voice to the indie/alternative scene and joined the Golden Palominos (also including Michael Stipe, Matthew Sweet, and Anton Fier). She released her first album, Surprise, in 1989; it featured contributions by Stipe, Fier, Richard Thompson, Jody Harris, Peter Blegvad, and a number of other well-known musicians. A second album, War and Peace, appeared in 1996. Recorded with a relatively obscure Midwest rock group called the Skeletons, it chronicled a brief and unhappy romance. In 2008, she released a new album, entitled Pink Velour, on her own label, Earnester Records. According to an earlier interview, the title track “is about my family moving back and forth between the east and the west, and my being kidnapped by my mother on Valentine’s Day in 1969, and about not seeing my dad for almost seven years.”
A frequent backup singer and contributor to duets with other musicians, Straw has also maintained an intermittent acting career, appearing on the television shows The Adventures of Pete & Pete and Tales of the City. Straw’s role on "The Adventures of Pete & Pete" as a middle school math teacher was introduced in the episode "Valentine’s Day Massacre," and was reprised in the episodes "Hard Day’s Pete" and "x=why?"
Syd Straw can be heard singing harmony and backing vocals on the Rickie Lee Jones albums Traffic From Paradise and The Evening of My Best Day. She is also featured on Leo Kottke’s Peculiaroso, which Jones produced. Straw appears on "What Am I Worth" from the Dave Alvin album King of California. For a number of years she has given an annual "Heartwreck" live performance on Valentine’s Day.
In 1994, Straw teamed up with Wilco to contribute the song "The T.B. Is Whipping Me" to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country, produced by the Red Hot Organization.