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Shawn Colvin

Shawn Colvin is one of the leading lights of the so-called "new folk movement" that began in the late '80s. Although she grew out of the somewhat limited "woman with a guitar" school, she kept the form fresh with a diverse approach, avoiding the genre's clichéd sentiments and all-too-often formulaic arrangements in favor of a more personal, pop-influenced style. Colvin's debut record won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1991, but it was her 1997 single, "Sunny Came Home," that firmly catapulted her into the mainstream. Although she never revisited that commercial peak again, Colvin still commanded a broad, loyal following into the subsequent decades.

Colvin was born in Vermillion, South Dakota, on January 10, 1956. By the age of ten, she had discovered a passion for music and taught herself guitar. After moving twice -- first to London, Ontario, and then to Carbondale, Illinois -- Colvin formed the Shawn Colvin Band, a hard rock outfit whose high-energy demands soon strained her voice. She relocated to Austin, Texas, where she joined the Western swing band the Dixie Diesels and sang with the band until nodes forced a temporary retirement at age 24. In 1983, she moved to New York, where she found a home in the city's singer/songwriter scene and built a following in the surrounding area.

Throughout the '80s, Colvin worked her way up the folk circuit, also appearing in off-Broadway shows such as Pump Boys and Dinettes, Diamond Studs, and Lie of the Mind. Her work also appeared in Fast Folk magazine, and she got her first break in 1987 singing backup on Suzanne Vega's hit song "Luka." By the following year, she had found a songwriting partner in John Leventhal, who began providing melodies for Colvin's lyrics. A live tape sold at Colvin's shows (Live '88) attracted the attention of Columbia Records, who signed her the same year in the wake of success from such like-minded performers as Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega, and the Indigo Girls.

Steady On, released in 1989, won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Recording. Colvin's 1992 sophomore effort, the more pop-oriented Fat City, earned her two more nominations -- Best Contemporary Folk Recording and Best Female Pop Vocal for the single "I Don't Know Why" -- as well as considerable critical praise and a growing crossover audience. In addition, "I Don't Know Why" became a big adult contemporary hit. Cover Girl, an album of cover songs, met with mixed reviews and modest sales in 1994, but Colvin again earned a nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Recording.

In late 1996, Colvin released A Few Small Repairs, having written the album during the midst of a painful divorce. A Few Small Repairs slowly became a hit over the course of 1997, due in part to the success of "Sunny Came Home" on the pop charts. In 1998, "Sunny Came Home" won two Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, and A Few Small Repairs became her first album to reach platinum status. Holiday Songs and Lullabies followed that autumn.

During the new millennium, Colvin contributed vocals to songs by Béla Fleck, Edwin McCain, James Taylor, and Shawn Mullins. She also collaborated with Sting on "One Day She'll Love Me," the theme song for Disney's The Emperor's New Groove. She returned to the solo format with 2001's Whole New You and, in 2004, summarized the first 15 years of her recording career with the compilation Polaroids: A Greatest Hits Collection. A companion home video was also issued. Two years later, Colvin came out with another album, her debut for the Nonesuch label, entitled These Four Walls. It featured guest performances from Patty Griffin and Teddy Thompson, among others. While touring through San Francisco in support of the album, Colvin recorded material from her three-night residency at Yoshi's, which she released in 2009 as the concert album Live. Colvin's eighth studio album, 2012's All Fall Down, was produced by Buddy Miller and recorded in Nashville at Miller's home studio, and featured guest spots from Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Jakob Dylan, and others. ~ Chris Woodstra, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: All Fall Down (Single)

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Track List: Fill Me Up (Radio Single)

Comments

Ui
Such soulful voice! Love it
Steady On is a definite desert island disc, something I could listen to for the rest of my life happily if I were stranded with only 5 discs forever.
What talent
AWESOME VOICE AND TALENT WE LOVE YOU SHAWN!
pinetop2
Saw her in Phoenix. Wow
tgoldfield7
YO! SHE LIVED AND WORKED IN VERMONT!!! WE CONSIDER HER OUR GIRL!!!!!!!! ! !
been in love with Shawn Colvin & her voice from the moment I firet heard "Steady On". "A Few Small Repairs" is an album that I never tire of and is a true classic, each and every song. Shawn & music will always resonate with me and all her fans.
allasp3
Just two words - "Fantastic Talent!"
Love Shawn and others. I love lots of music follow me I'll follow you. I think I have great taste in music including the besutiful patty griffin
Used to get mad at my sister snd crank up " get out of this house" LOL
Fell in love with her back in 1988 when I saw her perform live @Ryles in Cambridge. Steady On is still one of my favorite CDs.
Here's to always staying as relevant as Shawn Colvin...
I've really liked Shawh Colvin since her Fat City album.
coolmusiczon e _ 3 3
Awesome artist I love Shawn colvin
Crazy life. Crazy talented. Just crazy. Thank the gods for Shawn F**king Colvin.
olsen_bob
How come Whole New You isn't mentioned in the bio or listed in the discography? Great music!
stephen.quan 1
She gives a great concert. It wasn't Luka, but her duet with Bruce Hornsby, Lost Soul, that first brought her to my attentioin.
She still gives me chills! Her voice and lyrics seem to be the story of my life
A girlfriend from college introduced me to Shawn Colvin about the same time I introduced her to the Indigo Girls. Love 'em both.
choperini117 0
Her phrasing sounds a lot like Alanis Morissette's on "Polaroids." Guess that would mean, then, that Alanis's phrasing sounds a lot like Shawn Colvin's. Interesting.
sweeny221
Check out Shawn's early live performance of "I Don't Know Why" on the original Fast Folk Musical Magazine issue of February 1984...recor d e d at Speakeasy on MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village, solo w/guitar. Amazing. Turned me on to thewhole NYC scene and the Fast Folk folks. Wonderful times, days, music, people... - Sweeny
evry time i listen to her songs they are about somtyhing els. . If we knew exactaly what shawna colvin means in hers songe would we all have a stroke... hey it's only words .. dumb dumb.. not for everyone
Love her music. Venetian Blue is one of the most amazing songs and speaks to the hopeless romantic.
Shawn Colvin: "Every little thing he does" is amazing.
Shawn is fantastic - one of my favorites.
lOVE CRAZY
What few people realize is what a fantastic guitar player Shawn is. Saw her live last summer and she was amazing. It was just herself on the stage and she accompanied that wonderful voice with some mean guitar work!
Just discovered her today, and I love it!
Probably my favorite singer/songw r i t e r .
Sunny came home with a list of names...
Lol I love this song..
(^%^) (~%~)
nenad76
u guys (girls) are boring, r u single and have too many cats. you could sugar coat a pickle!
I just heard Shawn, Emmy Lou Harris, Patty Griffith and Buddy Miller play in Vermont. What angels.
Telephone operators! LOL!

Yeah, she is great. Sunny Came Home is what music is all about.

I'm surprised to hear her referred to as "New Folk." I am also "New Folk" which, ironically, is because I am an "old folk."

http://wound e d e g o . c o m / s o n g s
Once at a concert in ATX for Shawn, Mary Chapin Carpenter joined her on stage and it was as if we(the audience) had all been transformed into telephone operators listening in on the conversation of these two women who for all we knew were sitting in hotel rooms just chatting it up, it was very intimate, musically captivating and a delicious treat!
richlandry77 7
Dannette,
Me too. Though I missed it, a recent show here in Boston featured Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin and Emmylou Harris. Must've been good!
Loved "Sunny Came Home" years ago and just recently heard "Tuff Kid." Reminded me why I loved her so long ago...
don't know why she came up on evenescence radio, but she's pretty da** good
dsantana9_
Also listening to Patty Griffin
the best concert i have ever attended was shawn colvin and her guitar on a stage - talent oozing from every pore - she is freakin' incredible. music that sinks deep into your soul - love her, every album, every song - amazing musician!!!
As one of the guys, looks don't matter as much as musical talent. The kind of talent that reaches out to your heart when you listen to the music. Do you even wonder why, when listening to great music, our body instinctical y wants to shut our eyes? Maybe it's to be transported by the beauty of the music, and nothing else.
Re Jennifer's point about being ugly for a man helps them in their career, maybe it's because we are then forced to see beyond the visual to truely hear the beauty of the music
tholland, you're right! I stand corrected. It's typical of SOME guys, namely the "piggy" ones. :)
I was just mad. It sucks that a female singer has to be attractive above all else or she doesn't "sell" (which is ridiculous because Shawn isn't even ugly). So rarely is a great male musician dismissed because he's "ugly". (In fact, it seems to help them for some reason.)
I've loved Shawn since Steady On, her music reminds me of my mother.
Radio listen up! You miss out on so much just playing the top 40.
pinkchica25
I remember hearing her stuff on the radio back in the nineties, it's so great to rediscover it!
blb65
Sunny Came Home is a beautiful song. A really great voice, that no other person singing it would compare.
superfreak91 4
sunny came home. Such a classic 90's song :) makes me smile. Feels like happy memories to hear ninetys music
Let's leave the comments about a pig alone and focus on the singer, OK? Anyway, I wish I knew about her earlier... There are so many artists clamoring to get noticed and each of them have so much material that it's just impossible to listen to all of it. Only through forums such as this can one "discover" a new voice, so thanks to all of you who are focused on the music.
I agree that Jason is a pig, but Jennifer, that was a very sexist comment to say that it's "typical of a guy" to say that.
"A Whole New You" -- not included in the "selected discography" is... words fail. A listen is worth a thousand words. Enjoy!
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