Shawn Colvin

Shawn Colvin (born January 10, 1955) is a Grammy Award-winning American singer, songwriter and musician.

Childhood and early career

Colvin was born in Vermillion, South Dakota. Her formative years were spent in the town of Carbondale, Illinois, where she attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She learned to play guitar at the age of 10. Her first public concert was at age 15 at the University of Illinois campus. Colvin cites Joni Mitchell as a primary influence on her music, and her initial performances reflected that.



Colvin began working in the music scene in earnest in the late 1970s, first in Austin, Texas and then nationally. She met music partner John Leventhal during this time; Leventhal became Colvin's producer on several albums. Colvin often lends her talent to contemporaries in the music business; she can be heard singing the backing vocals on the Suzanne Vega hit, "Luka". Vega returned the favor, singing backup on Colvin's "Diamond In The Rough", from her debut album, Steady On. Early in their careers, Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter formed a friendship that led to their frequently guesting on one-another's recordings: Colvin lent her vocals to Carpenter's 1992 recordings "The Hard Way" and "Come On Come On", and Mary Chapin returns the favor on Colvin's "Climb On a Back That's Strong", from Colvin's Fat City album. She also contributed in the studio and onstage to several Bruce Hornsby songs.

In 1988, Colvin was asked to perform a "trio" concert with fellow folk singer/songwriters Cheryl Wheeler and Mary Chapin Carpenter. The three performed two consecutive nights to critical acclaim at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia. During these performances, Colvin performed several songs which appeared on her first two albums. The performances were recorded at the soundboard; although never released officially, they have been favorites among fans of the three artists.

Colvin also has strong connections with singer/songwriters Julie Miller and Buddy Miller. Shawn became involved musically with the Millers when all three were working in Austin in the late 1970s/early '80s. Shawn provided backing vocals on Julie's first three solo albums (now out of print) released in 1990, 1991 and 1993.

Colvin's first several albums were met with critical acclaim, but they did not sell in substantial numbers. After several albums of original work, Colvin released Cover Girl, a collection of cover versions. The work was a departure for her and was not well received. During this period, she also toured as Richard Thompson's opening act and back-up singer.

Colvin experienced breakthrough success with A Few Small Repairs in October 1996. The single "Sunny Came Home" reached the US Top Ten, and won Grammy Awards for Song and Record of the Year. She has released several subsequent albums which were nominated for Grammys, and she has also released a greatest hits album and a collection of Christmas music.

Colvin was the guest vocal artist on the Lisa Loeb single "Falling in Love". She performed at various Lilith Fair music festivals. Colvin's song "Nothin' on Me" served as the theme song to the Brooke Shields situation comedy Suddenly Susan. She also has been featured on the live music show Austin City Limits and played at the 2003 Austin City Limits Music Festival. She appeared in a 2001 tribute to Joni Mitchell that was broadcast on TNT.

Colvin appeared on Live from Abbey Road, which aired on Channel 4 in the UK and the Sundance Channel in the USA. Her live session recorded at Abbey Road Studios was shown on an episode with Nerina Pallot, The Zutons and Ray LaMontagne.

In 2007, Colvin released a single entitled "Crazy", a cover of the Gnarls Barkley song.

She can be heard on Chris Botti's tune "All Would Envy", written by Sting.

Television and film

Shawn made a few memorable appearances on the comedy series The Larry Sanders Show, in the episodes "The Young Intern" (where she performed an acoustic version of "Polaroids") and "The New Writer" (where she performed an acoustic version of "Get Out of This House"). Colvin also ended the final episode of The Larry Sanders Show with an acoustic cover of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?".

She has made two guest appearances on animated comedy series The Simpsons as Rachel Jordan, lead singer for a Christian rock band. She first appears in "Alone Again, Natura-Diddily", where Rachel wins widower Ned Flanders' heart. Later, in the episode "I'm Goin' to Praiseland", Ned dates Rachel, only to scare her off when he tries to turn her into a version of his deceased wife Maude. The two promptly get back together at the end of the same episode. She has not been mentioned in the series since then.

She is the minister marrying the two main characters (played by Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore) in the movie 50 First Dates.

Personal life

Colvin lives with her daughter, Caledonia, in Austin, Texas, and still participates in the Austin music scene.

She supports liberal causes and has played benefit concerts for candidates of the Democratic Party. She is also a supporter of the Texas Public Interest Research Group.

Her brother Geoff is an editor at large with Fortune, and hosted the post-Louis Rukeyser version of Wall $treet Week until its June 2005 cancellation.

Awards and recognition



Charted US Singles

  • 1990: "Steady On" — US Modern Rock #23/Adult Contemporary #30
  • 1992: "Round of Blues" — US Adult Contemporary #44
  • 1993: "I Don't Know Why" — US Adult Contemporary #16
  • 1997: "Sunny Came Home" — US Hot 100 #1/Hot 100 Airplay #1/Adult Contemporary #1
  • 2001: "Whole New You" — US Adult Contemporary #24

Charted UK Singles

  • 1993: "I Don't Know Why" - #62
  • 1994: "Round of Blues" - #73
  • 1994: "Every Little Thing He Does is Magic" - #65
  • 1995: "One Cool Remove" (with Mary Chapin Carpenter) - #40
  • 1995: "I Don't Know Why" (Re-issue) - #52
  • 1997: "Get Out of This House" - #70
  • 1998: "Sunny Came Home" - #29


See also

External links

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