Singer/songwriter Norma Tanega is known only for her one hit, the novelty-tinged "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog," which made number 22 in early 1966. There was a slight folk-rock feel to the number, with its melancholy harmonica and backup harmonies, yet it was mixed with some New York pop-soul production. An upbeat number with whimsical lyrics, it wasn't that typical of her material from that era, which was often in a folkier and more serious vein, albeit usually given crossover pop-folk arrangements.
Tanega came to the attention of Herb Bernstein while singing as a music counselor at camps in the Catskill Mountains. Bernstein put her in contact with hit producer Bob Crewe (most famous for his work with the Four Seasons), and she was signed to his New Voice label. "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog" was her first single, and her only success, quickly forgotten even by the standards of '60s one-hit wonders. Tanega did record other material at New Voice, now available on the Walkin' My Cat Named Dog CD, which crossed folky picking and her low vocals with some pop/rock arrangements and backup harmonies. Tanega was actually a decent, rather introspective composer in the early East Coast singer/songwriter vein. She was more pop-oriented than the usual Village folkies, certainly, yet not that slick either. Her voice, however, wasn't up to the level of her moderately appealing material, as it wasn't as expressive as many of her singer/songwriter peers working the same styles, and in fact tended to waver off-pitch, especially in its higher range. Shortly after "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog," Tanega moved to England for five years, recording an album for RCA. After returning to the United States, she became a percussionist, playing ceramic instruments and making several albums with woodwind player Brian Ransom. Later she played world music with Hybrid Vigor, and taught art and music in Southern California. ~ Richie Unterberger