Shawn Colvin reflects on career, heads to Woodstock
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Three-time Grammy winner Shawn Colvin not only has a new single, new album and tour that includes a June 24 stop at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, but also a new memoir that chronicles some of her most profound journeys.
Although Colvin tells Newsday Westchester that she considers herself “happy” these days, “Diamond in the Rough: A Memoir” (William Morrow, 2012) delves into the struggles that she’s had with failed relationships, addiction and depression. Colvin, who says she’s been sober for almost 30 years, has her reasons for including this kind of candor in her book, which she says took three years to write.
“The upside of writing about these things is that I really know it’s going to help some people,” she says. “It was cathartic, but I’m a pretty open person. I’ve talked about these things before in interviews and my songs, but it’s much different to just write, flat-out, from a narrative point of view, so it was a challenge.”
But for every struggle she’s faced, she’s found joy in her life, too. Like the time when she was 10 and picked up a guitar, solidifying her passion for music. Or when singing backup vocals for Suzanne Vega’s recording of “Luka” led to her opening for Vega on the road and to a record deal in her early 30s. And, of course, there are her Grammy Awards, two of which were for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1998 for her biggest hit, “Sunny Came Home.”
In her memoir, Colvin says she sees a lot of herself in Sunny, the arsonist in a deceptively melodic pop song who seeks a “few small repairs” and “came home with a vengeance.”
“First of all, Sunny is me,” reads part of page three. “Everything I write is through me, through my perspective. … Both Sunny and I went through a lot, I suppose, and came out the other side (at least I like to think that Sunny was acquitted). She may have gone overboard a tad, but we are both survivors.”
Although “Sunny Came Home” would be Colvin’s lone chart-topper, she only sees it as a blessing.
“It wasn’t a curse at all, not one bit,” she says. “It was fun. I’m proud of the song. I gained notoriety. Maybe I’m seen as a one-hit wonder, but I don’t care. I’m not a hit artist. So for a long time, I was recognized, and I’m proud of it, and I think I deserved it. And I think I’ve maintained a very loyal following throughout. I still have a career, which you can’t say of everyone who’s had just a brief moment in the larger spotlight.”
With more than 2 million albums sold domestically, Colvin continues to resonate with folk, adult-contemporary and country fans, even if her singles don’t air on mainstream radio anymore. “Never Saw Blue Like That” was featured on “Dawson’s Creek” and in the Richard Gere-Julia Roberts movie, “Runaway Bride.” Colvin’s Johnny Cash-like cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” went viral online in 2007.
This year, satellite radio has been pushing the title track from her latest album, “All Fall Down,” which she says carries a simple message: “If you fall down, get back up again.”
“This is one of my heroes, y’know,” Colvin says. “Having Emmylou come over in her Ugg boots and sweatpants and sit in the vocal booth and work at harmonizing to my song was an extreme thrill.”
When Colvin is asked if she finds it difficult to promote her new material given the current state of pop music, she replies with a laugh, “Yes, I do, especially since I’m 56 years old. I mean, [mainstream popularity] doesn’t make any difference to me. … I’ve had some longevity and I have some loyal fans.”
Regardless of what’s playing on the radio, Colvin says nothing beats the rush that comes from performing for those fans.
“Performing, I’m sort of meant to do,” she says. “It’s always been comfortable for me. I really enjoy relating to an audience, and giving to them and getting back from them. It’s just not difficult. I believe I was meant to do that.”
IF YOU GO
What: Shawn Colvin concert
When: 8 p.m., Sunday, June 24
Info: Bearsville Theater, 291 Tinker St., Woodstock; 845-679-4406; www.bearsvilletheater.com; $30-$55