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Three-time Grammy Award winner, Shawn Colvin, broke into the world of mainstream music with her popular song, “Sunny Came Home.” Shawn Colvin’s 22 year career span has continued to thrive due to her loyal fan base and staying true to her grassroots sound of contemporary rock music, which is beautifully displayed in her new album, All Fall Down. For this album Colvin collaborated with several renowned artists such as Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Jakob Dylan. The singer/songwriter talks with TheCelebrityCafe.com about her latest artistic work as both a singer and recent publisher.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: You have a new book, Diamond in the Rough, coming out next month (June 5th). Can you tell me what it’s all about?
Shawn Colvin: It’s a memoir. It basically covers parts of my life that I wanted to share with readers.
TCC: I have a few questions in regards to excerpts from your book. The first one is your view on alcohol abuse. You stated, ‘I wasn’t drinking because I wanted to, I was drinking because I had to.’ Could you elaborate on that?
SC: Well, I was addicted to alcohol and needed it for various reasons in order to function. I don’t know if every addict is the same in terms of how they started. But for me it was just to calm the anxiety, calm the voices, and my depression. It was like a medicine. That’s why I had to take it.
TCC: You also stated in your book that ‘You contemplated suicide daily.’ Why do you think there is a connection between suicide and being an artist?
SC: That’s a very good question. There is a level of sensitivity to artists. I don’t know why we are born this way. I think with some people it is congenital. But, in some cases, it is a misconception. Several artists that I know are not suicidal at all. The truth is I’ve been the most creative and done my best work when I wasn’t feeling depressed. So artists can be happy, well adjusted people and still be creative.
But the comment I made was a bit of a joke. I was describing my relationship with my friend, Roy Stokes. It was the despair that Roy understood and not something everyone else got. It’s not like we would actually go through with it.
TCC: So it was more of a not-too-serious, off-the-cuff statement?
SC: Yes, it was a message of how Roy and I understood the darkness we had in each other.
TCC: Another statement you made in Diamond in the Rough is that ‘I worked too hard to fulfill this dream that so caters to my ego. The attention of an audience is still paramount to my well-being.’ Do you feel fame in general equates with a person’s desire to be accepted and loved by others?
SC: The desire to be famous? Yeah, I think it does. But anybody’s profession caters to their ego if they have a stake at being good at what they do and are proud of that. Hearing an audience applauding for me does cater to my ego as a singer. But at the basis of the attention I get I desire to move people because I’ve been moved by other artists that mean the world to me.
TCC: At concerts do people still ask you to sing “Sunny Came Home”?
SC: Oh yeah! I really like that song. I think it is really cool what happened with it.
TCC: Do you think it is tough for an artist or band to break out of the mold of being labeled a one-hit-wonder after having a successful song or two?
SC: There are fans that got brought in because of the hit song and chances are if you didn’t have another hit song you kind of lost them. In my case, when I first started off as a singer I didn’t come out immediately with a hit song. I built a real loyal following over the years. So they don’t ask for “Sunny Came Home” that much. They want to hear all kinds of other stuff. I’m really lucky that way.
TCC: What’s your favorite song on your upcoming album, All Fall Down?
SC: I know that it is such a tempting question to ask. I do like the title track “All Fall Down” it’s certainly one of my favorites.
TCC: I like that one too. I also like “American Jerusalem”. There are a lot of metaphors used in it. Why was that song put on the album?
SC: It was put on the album because it’s a great song. It really describes the New York vibe that I grew up in. I’ve spent 13 to 14 years here, mostly as a struggling artist. I learned about this song back in the early 80s from a writer named Rod MacDonald. He was current among all the struggling singers and songwriters that I knew at that time. The song is a great poetic description of life in New York then and now.
TCC: Back then in the 90s indie music dominated the radio, especially female artists like Sarah McLachlan and Jewel. Nowadays we mostly hear Pop music. What do you think about Pop dominating music today?
SC: I think it is the inevitable. Change in music always happens at some point. It goes along with whatever is trending. It is what it is. My parents thought some of the stuff I listened to growing up was crap. Some of the stuff I think my daughter listens to is crap. Even though she might not think so I have to respect that.
But every now and then you have artists come out that are ridiculously talented, like Adele. She has transcended music that fits with the current trend of Pop. I do like some of that type of music, but certainly not all of it.
TCC: Besides Adele are there any other new artists you currently like?
SC: I could only speak for some of the singles I’ve listened to, like Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and Gotye with “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Those are just a couple of examples.
Shawn Colvin’s eighth studio album, All Fall Down, will be released the same day as her published memoir, Diamond in Rough, on June 5. Be sure to go to her website, ShawnColvin.com , for her upcoming concert dates as well as her scheduled book and CD signings.