Peter Spencer is a fingerpicking guitarist, singer, songwriter, and composer. Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, he grew up listening to the R&B and hillbilly music played on radio stations like WLAC in Nashville and CKLW in Windsor, Ontario. He began his musical career in 1968 playing harmonica in a blues band in Pittsburgh but soon switched to solo guitar.
Peter spent the 1970s touring North America and Europe playing early blues, jazz, and ragtime. Then, in the early 1980s, he began writing songs, co-founding the Fast Folk Musician's Cooperative in Greenwich Village, New York, where he worked with artists like Suzanne Vega, John Gorka, Lucy Kaplanski, Cliff Eberhardt, and Jack Hardy. These recordings are part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
After graduating from The Writing Program at Columbia University in 1989, Peter retired from performing and became a full-time music writer for magazines like Rolling Stone and Sing Out. His book "World Beat: A Listener's Guide to Contemporary World Music on CD" was published by the Chicago Review Press in 1992.
Peter returned to performing with the 2000 release "New Hope and Wise Virgins," followed by a series of releases beginning with an album of original and classic blues called "Nobody's Daddy" in 2005. "Handsignal," another album of original songs, followed in 2006. Later that year came "Gathering Light," an album of Christmas music for solo guitar, which has become his most popular album. In 2007 he released "The Blues Concert," recorded live on Bainbridge Island, and in 2009, "From the Island," another set of original songs. His most recent album, "1896," was recorded with an 1896 Washburn parlor guitar in an old wooden schoolhouse that was built in that same year.
Peter has been called a "guitar wizard" by Seattle's Victory Music News and "a gifted lyricist with a sharp eye" by the New Jersey Star-Ledger. He tours regularly in the Northeast and throughout the Pacific Northwest, and teaches guitar and voice at the Dusty Strings Music School in Seattle and at the Island Music Guild on Bainbridge Island.
He is currently a candidate for the MFA in Composition at Vermont College of Fine Arts.