Vanessa Daou (born October 4, 1967) is an American singer, songwriter, poet, visual artist and dancer. Most notably a musician, her work is known among electronica, nu jazz and trip hop circles for her trademark spoken word and aspirated singing style as well as its erotic and literary subtexts.
Daou was born and spent her early childhood in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, relocating in 1984 to attend boarding school in Massachusetts. As a young adult, she attended Vassar College for two years and spent several years in New York City's Hell's Kitchen area before earning a scholarship to study dance at Columbia University. There, she would train with choreographer Eric Hawkins and explore visual art with Barry Moser and poetry with Kenneth Koch, whom she cites as having sparked her interest in spoken word. Daou ultimately graduated cum laude with a visual arts and art history degree from Barnard College/Columbia and frequently appeared in her senior year at Postcrypt Coffeehouse, the university's on-campus poetry lounge.
While still a student, Daou began her career recording for NuGroove Records, one of New York's seminal underground electronica labels. Demos Daou had recorded with new husband/producer/musical collaborator Peter Daou caught the attention of two NuGroove DJs, and they invited her to provide guest vocals on a developing track. The experiment led to the label's top-selling single It Could Not Happen, which later was released on Network Records in the United Kingdom. The Daous also performed as Vandal at Los Angeles' Stranger Than Fiction rave at the Shrine Auditorium in 1990.