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Tracy Bonham

Like Alanis Morissette and Liz Phair, Tracy Bonham made her name during the alternative boom of the mid-‘90s. Unlike those two songwriters, she did so by merging post-grunge with elements of classical music, drawing upon her violin skills in the process. The combination helped push her 1996 debut, The Burdens of Being Upright, to gold sales, and Bonham closed out the year with two Grammy nominations. Although her later albums didn’t fare quite so well, Bonham continued expanding her sound into a hybrid of folk, rock, and ornate pop, replacing the record sales of years past with critical approval.

Bonham began playing the violin at age nine, while growing up alongside her eight siblings in Eugene, OR. Although she received a scholarship to study classical violin at the University of Southern California, she dropped out after several semesters and moved east to attend the Berklee College of Music, where she took classes in jazz and vocal music. Her tastes shifted to rock music during the early ‘90s. While recording jingles in order to pay her rent, Bonham began playing shows in the Boston area to showcase her emerging style, which combined her classical training with a growing appreciation for bands like the Pixies and PJ Harvey.

Bonham’s first EP, The Liverpool Sessions, was released in 1995 by the Boston-based label CherryDisc. “The One” and “Dandelion” both enjoyed local airplay, and Bonham took home three prizes from the Boston Music Awards later that year, including Best New Artist and Best Female Vocalist. After signing with Island Records, she courted a much larger audience in 1996 with the release of her full-length debut, The Burdens of Being Upright. An autobiographical album that emphasized her rock influences, it spawned a chart-topping single with “Mother Mother” and eventually sold more than 500,000 copies. Bonham also received several Grammy nominations. Despite her sudden success, Bonham didn’t release the sophomore album Down Here until early 2000, a year dominated by teenage pop stars, rap acts, and R&B artists. The album sold poorly despite receiving several warm reviews, and Island Records -- which, due to a recent acquisition by UMG, was in the middle of its own set of problems -- dropped her from the roster in December 2001.

Now a free agent, Bonham issued The Bee EP on her own dime while touring alongside the Blue Man Group, who had recruited her to sing on their 2003 album The Complex. She also moved to L.A., where she used the money generated by The Bee EP’s sales to begin work on another full-length album. The result was Blink the Brightest, released in 2005 by the Rounder imprint Zoë Records. Another self-financed recording, In the City + In the Woods, quickly followed, and Bonham decamped to Woodstock, NY, to work on a self-produced fourth album in 2007. Recording sessions wrapped up in late 2009, and Masts of Manhatta appeared the following summer. Wax & Gold was released in 2015. ~ Andrew Leahey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Wax & Gold

1. Noonday Demon

2. Luck

3. Wax & Gold

4. This Here's My Grandpa's Guitar

5. Oh Mckenzie Silver Water

6. Gonegonegone

7. Black Tears

8. From The Tree To The Hand To The Page

9. Under The Ruby Moon

10. Lovelovelovelovelove

11. One Of These Days

x

Track List: Masts Of Manhattan

1. Devil's Got Your Boyfriend

2. Your Night Is Wide Open

3. Big Red Heart

4. Josephine

5. When You Laugh The World Laughs With You

6. We Move Our City To The Country

7. Reciprocal Feelings

8. In The Moonlight

9. You're My Isness

10. Angel, Won't You Come Down?

11. I Love You Today

x

Track List: Blink The Brightest

1. Something Beautiful

2. I Was Born Without You

3. And The World Has The Nerve To Keep Turning

4. Eyes

5. Take Your Love Out On Me

6. Whether You Fall

7. Dumbo Sun

8. All Thumbs

9. Naked

10. Shine

11. Wilting Flowers

12. Did I Sleep Through It All?

x

Track List: Down Here

1. Freed

2. Behind Every Good Woman

3. You Don't Know Me

4. Fake It

5. Cold Day in Hell

6. Jumping Bean

7. Oasis Hotel

8. Second Wind

9. Thumbelina

10. Meathook

11. You Can't Always Not Got What You Don't Want

12. Give Us Something to Feel

x

Track List: The Burdens Of Being Upright

1. Mother Mother

2. Navy Bean

3. Tell It To The Sky

4. Kisses

5. Brain Crack

6. The One

7. One Hit Wonder

8. Sharks Can't Sleep

9. Bulldog

10. Every Breath

11. 30 Seconds

12. The Real

Comments

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Iseen her. In 1997 touring with. Local. H. In a. Coffee shop in pontiac michigan
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God I love Tracy Bonham
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Met Tracy after a Blue Man Group show in 2003. Remarkable woman!
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This song is therapeutic.
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steveandlaur a 7 1 8 9
this song fukin annoys me
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I've loved her since I first heard Mother, Mother back in the 90's. She just keeps getting better, too. :-) Awesome songs. Love her voice. Beautiful violin, too.
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I love Whether You Fall
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mfwraith
She toured as an opening act for Blue Man Group, and performed in a few of their songs, but she is not actually a member. I absolutely love her cover of Black Dog. Truly Epic.
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She has a clear, honest voice that slices the air, devoid of pretentious pop pandering. Her dark, quirky melodies intertwine with richly layered vocal harmony. The overall effect always drills through my numb consciousnes s to unearth forgotten and delicious emotions from a distant past.
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Her classical roots show through. Simple and complex at the same time. I always think more of an artist who makes music more for their own pleasure in doing so as opposed to monetary interests. Loved Tracy from the time I first heard Mother Mother and moved on to her less pop and often much better compositions . Hard rocking and a little odd. Gotta love it!
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Can you help me out ? No! Well don't say nothing!

I like how she signs!
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bcaplan52
often played second base in pickup softball games among the bostom musical scene cast in the mid 90s. Letters to cleo, jules verdone, mary lou lord and many more too numerous to mention. Now a member of Blue Man Group if I am not mistaken.
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I love the song "whether you fall", makes my hair stand on ends for some reason. Awesome.
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rhe58
this girl rocks
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Bonham!! just like John Bonham!! for a few seconds i though that she actually was a doughter of him.
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I've heard of Tracy Bonham, but this is the first time I have heard her music; "Eyes" is a great song and I would like to hear more.
Report as inappropriate
I have never heard of Tracy or her music before today and I am loving the song, "All Thumbs". Can't wait to hear more...

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