Colvin in November 2015
January 10, 1956|
Vermillion, South Dakota, United States
|Genres||Rock, Country, Contemporary Folk, Americana|
Early and personal life
Colvin was born in Vermillion, South Dakota, and spent her youth in London, Ontario and Carbondale, Illinois. She is the second of four children, and has two brothers, Geoff and Clay and a sister Kay. She learned to play guitar at the age of 10 and grew up listening to her father's collection of music, which included artists such as Peter Seeger and the Kingston Trio.
Colvin has been married twice, first to Simon Tassano in 1993; they were divorced in 1995. She married photographer Mario Erwin in 1997 and in July 1998 they had a daughter, Caledonia Jean-Marie. Shawn and Mario divorced in 2002.
Colvin moved to Austin, Texas and joined a Western swing band called the Dixie Diesels. She then entered "the folk circuit in Illinois and Berkeley", California before she "strained her voice" singing rock songs and took a sabbatical from singing at the age of 24.
Colvin later moved to New York City, joining the Buddy Miller Band in 1980. When Buddy Miller left the band it became The Shawn Colvin Band. With Buddy gone the band needed a lead guitarist and this led to her meeting John Leventhal. She later became involved in the Fast Folk cooperative of Greenwich Village. Over time she became progressively more popular on the new folk circuit and while participating in off-Broadway shows such as Diamond Studs, Pump Boys and Dinettes, and Lie of the Mind. She was featured in Fast Folk magazine, and in 1987, producer Steve Addabbo hired her to sing backup vocals on the song "Luka" by Suzanne Vega.
After touring with Suzanne Vega, Colvin was brought to the attention of Columbia Records by Addabbo and signed a recording contract with the label. Colvin released her debut album Steady On with her fellow songwriter and co-producer, John Leventhal in 1989. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album and featured backing vocals by Vega. Colvin's second album Fat City was released in 1992 and received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Recording. The song "I Don't Know Why" was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Female Pop Vocal category. In 1993 she moved back to the city of Austin and in 1994 released the album Cover Girl, a collection of cover songs. In 1995 Colvin released her album Live 88 which consisted of live recordings she had made in 1988.
In 1996, Colvin released her "platinum status" album A Few Small Repairs and in 1997 the success of her single "Sunny Came Home" firmly catapulted her into the mainstream after spending four weeks at the number one spot on the Adult Contemporary chart. The song won the 1998 Grammy Awards for both Song and Record of the Year. After becoming a mother Colvin released the album Holiday Songs and Lullabies in 1998 and in 2001 released another album called Whole New You. In 2004, she released another album, this time a compilation of past songs called, Polaroids: A Greatest Hits Collection.
In 2008, she left Columbia Records and released a 15 song album called These Four Walls on her new label, Nonesuch Records which featured contributions by Patti Griffin and Teddy Thompson. In 2009 she released Shawn Colvin Live, which was recorded at the jazz club Yoshi's in San Francisco, California and featured 12 original songs plus cover versions of songs by Gnarls Barkley, Talking Heads and Robbie Robertson.
Her eighth studio album, All Fall Down, was released in 2012 and was produced by Buddy Miller at his home studio in Nashville, Tennessee. The album featured guest appearances by Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Jakob Dylan. In 2012, Colvin performed at the first annual PEN New England Awards for Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence the JFK Presidential Library, honoring Chuck Berry and Leonard Cohen in Boston, Massachusetts. That same year Harper Collins published her memoir Diamond in the Rough.
Since 2000, Colvin has collaborated with a variety of artists and has made vocal contributions to songs by James Taylor, Béla Fleck, Edwin McCain and Shawn Mullins. She also collaborated with Sting on the Disney theme song, "One Day She'll Love Me". Colvin played the voice of character Rachel Jordan on the TV show The Simpsons and lent her vocals to Mary Chapin Carpenter's 1992 recordings "The Hard Way" and "Come on Come On". In 2011, she appeared on the HBO series Treme, in the episode "Santa Claus, Do You Ever Get The Blues". In 2016 she released a duet LP titled Colvin and Earle with musician Steve Earle which includes the definitive arrangement of the '60s standard "You Were on My Mind".
Colvin published her book of memoirs, Diamond in the Rough, in 2012. She says the book is about her survival from anorexia, clinical depression, alcoholism, motherhood, career crises, and relationships with men. "I hope it's comical for readers to keep track of them," she said. "That was my intention".
Andy Langer in The New York Times calls the book
"candid about her heartaches but also comically self-deprecating. She balances the serious admission that she needs medication to combat her depression with a funny anecdote about the time she wet herself on national television while dancing with 'N Sync during a late '90s Disney Christmas special".
Awards and recognition
|2016||Herself||Americana Trailblazer Award||Won|
|1991||Steady On||Best Contemporary Folk Album||Won|
|1994||"I Don't Know Why"||Best Female Pop Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|Fat City||Best Contemporary Folk Album||Nominated|
|1995||Cover Girl||Best Contemporary Folk Album||Nominated|
|1997||"Get Out of This House"||Best Female Pop Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|A Few Small Repairs||Best Pop Vocal Album||Nominated|
|1998||"Sunny Came Home"||Record of the Year||Won|
|Song of the Year||Won|
|Best Female Pop Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|2009||Shawn Colvin Live||Best Contemporary Folk Album||Nominated|
- Video Premiere Award Nomination
- 2001: Best Original Song – "Great Big World" (The Little Bear Movie)
- Steady On (1989)
- Fat City (1992)
- Cover Girl (1994)
- A Few Small Repairs (1996)
- Holiday Songs and Lullabies (1998)
- Whole New You (2001)
- These Four Walls (2006)
- Shawn Colvin Live (2009)
- All Fall Down (2012)
- Uncovered (2015)
- Colvin and Earle with Steve Earle (2016)
- Music In High Places - Live In Bora Bora (2002)
- Polaroids: A Video Collection (2004)
- Woodstra, Chris Shawn Colvin Biography All Music, retrieved May 25, 2012
- Colvin, Shawn (2013). Diamond in the Rough. William morrow. p. 22. ISBN 0061759597.
- Hogg, Karen. Guitar Styles: Women In Rock. Workshop Arts Inc. p. 12.
- "Shawn Colvin Biography". Retrieved September 10, 2013.
- "NNDB Shawn Colvin". Retrieved September 10, 2013.
- Koster, Rick (2000) First St. Martin's Griffin, Texas Music page 219, retrieved May 25, 2012
- Hochman, Steve. "A Folk Stylist Hangs on to Intimacy Artist: Shawn Colvin", Los Angeles Times, November 26, 1989. Accessed June 5, 2009.
- Biography Shawn Colvin official web site, retrieved May 25, 2012
- Vladmir, Bogdanav (2002). All Music Guide to Rock: the Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop and Soul. Backbeat Books. pp. 240–241.
- Lowe, Jaime (2008). Digging for Dirt: The Life and Death of Odb. Faber and Faber Inc.
- "Live", Nonesuch.com.
- Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (February 26, 2012). "Leonard Cohen and Chuck Berry celebrated at the JFK Library". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
- Colvin, Shawn. Diamond in the Rough: A Memoir. Google Books. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
- Cuddihy, Kevin (2005). Christmas's Most WantedTM. Potomoc Books Inc.
- Woodstra, Chris (2008). Contemporary Country. Backbeat books. p. 21.
- Guarino, Mark (16 June 2016). "Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin: nine divorces, two addictions, one perfect mix". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Green, Michelle (23 June 2016). "Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle: Two Old Pals on the Road Together". New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Leahey, Andrew (31 March 2016). "Hear Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle's Dark 'You're Right (I'm Wrong)'". Rolling Stone. New York City. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- "Surviving a Struggle with a Sense of Hope". Retrieved April 10, 2014.