In an era when female singer-songwriters are ever more ubiquitous, Shawn Colvin stands out as a singular and enduring talent. Her songs are slow-release works of craft and catharsis that become treasured, lifetime companions for their listeners. As a storyteller, Colvin is both keen and warm-hearted, leavening even the toughest tales with tenderness, empathy, and a searing sense of humor. In the 23 years since the release of her debut album, Colvin has won three Grammy Awards, released nine albums, maintained a non-stop national and international touring schedule, appeared on countless television and radio programs, had her songs featured in major motion pictures, and created a remarkable canon of work.
Combined sales of her albums total more than 2.5 million copies in the United States alone, and Colvin continues to tour nonstop throughout the year. Over the years she has shared the stage and toured with legendary artists such as Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Hornsby, Emmylou Harris, John Hiatt, Don Helney and Lyle Lovett. She has toured internationally throughout her career, returning to places as near as the UK and Europe and as far as Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
Colvin was born in Vermillion, South Dakota, where she lived until she was eight. A small-town childhood in the university town of Carbondale, Illinois, drew her to the guitar by the age of 10. She made her first public appearance on campus at the University of Illinois at age 15. By the late 1970s Colvin was singing in a Western Swing band in Austin, Texas—the city she now calls home. Moving to New York at the decade’s end she remained in the country music field as a member of the Buddy Miller Band until she met producer, guitarist, and co-writer John Leventhal. Leventhal inspired Colvin to find her own voice as a songwriter. She began honing her skill, and was soon signed to Columbia records Her first album, Steady On won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Recording.
Colvin continued to win fans and critics with her subsequent releases, Fat City (1992) and Cover Girl (1994). In 1996, she released A Few Small Repairs (1996), which would prove to be her breakthrough. The murder-ballad “Sunny Came Home” gave Colvin a Top 10 hit and two of Grammy’s biggest honors: Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
Holiday Songs And Lullabies (1998), recorded while Colvin was eight and a half months pregnant with her daughter Caledonia, followed. Whole New You (2001) and Polaroids (2004). Her Nonesuch debut These Four Walls (2006) was lauded by People Magazine as “the most self-assured album of her career” and “one for the ages” by the Washington Post. The Austin-American Statesman called it “an exquisite portrait of strength and vulnerability.”
Shawn Colvin Live followed in 2009. Recorded during a special three-night solo engagement at San Francisco’s famous jazz club, Yoshi’s, Live includes 12 songs written or co-written by Colvin, as well as covers of songs by Robbie Robertson, Gnarls Barkley, and the Talking Heads. Shawn Colvin Live captures the beauty and intimacy of Colvin’s performances, showcasing her inimitable voice and matchless guitar stylings. Praised by both critics and fans, the album was honored with a Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Recording.
Shawn's newest studio album, All Fall Down, was released in June 2012. The release was simultaneous with her William Morrow/HarperCollins–published memoir, Diamond In The Rough. With the wit, lyricism, and empathy that have characterized Shawn’s performances and inspired audiences worldwide, Diamond in the Rough looks back over a rich lifetime of highs and lows with stunning insight and candor. Through its pages, we witness the inspiring story of a woman honing her artistry, finding her voice, and making herself whole.
A native of Syracuse, N.Y., and the tenth of 12 children, Martin Sexton grew up in the ’80s.
Uninterested in the music of the day, he fueled his dreams with the timeless sounds of classic rock ’n’ roll. As he discovered the dusty old vinyl left in the basement by one his big brothers, his musical fire was lit. Sexton eventually migrated to Boston, where he began to build a following singing on the streets of Harvard Square, gradually working his way through the scene. His 1992 collection of self-produced demo recordings, In the Journey, was recorded on an old 8-track in a friend’s attic. He managed to sell 20,000 copies out of his guitar case.
From 1996 to 2002 Sexton released Black Sheep, The American, Wonder Bar and Live Wide Open. The activity and worldwide touring behind these records laid the foundation for the career he enjoys today with an uncommonly loyal fan base; he sells out venues from New York’s Nokia Theatre to L.A.’s House of Blues, and tours regularly across Canada and Europe.
Happily and fiercely independent, Martin Sexton launched his own label, KTR, in 2002. Since then he has infiltrated many musical worlds, performing at concerts ranging from pop (collaborating with John Mayer) to the Jam scene to classic rock (collaborating with Peter Frampton); from the Newport Folk Fest to Bonnaroo to New Orleans Jazz Fest to a performance at Carnegie Hall.
Regardless of his reputation as a musician’s musician, Sexton can’t keep Hollywood away. His songs can be heard in many feature films and television including NBC’s
Scrubs, Parenthood and Showtime’s hit series Brotherhood.
Stage, film and television aside, when Sexton isn’t touring he often mixes entertainment with his sense of social responsibility, performing at benefits for Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang camp, the Children’s Tumor Foundation, Japan earthquake/tsunami relief (The John Lennon Tribute), and Hurricane Irene relief efforts in Vermont, to name some.
In 2007 Sexton began his most successful years to date with the release of his studio offering Seeds. The album debuted at #6 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, and the Los Angeles Times said, “Call him a soul shouter, a road poet, a folkie or a rocker and you wouldn’t be wrong.”
The live CD/DVD set Solo, which includes a DVD of his performance at Denver’s Mile
High Festival, followed in 2008.
In 2010 the album Sugarcoating found this one-of-a-kind-troubadour doing what he does best: locating larger truths. After hearing it, NBC anchor Brian Williams sought Martin out to sit down for an interview backstage at New York’s Beacon Theatre. It’s now featured on MSNBC’s BriTunes.
The accolades continue. Billboard called Sexton’s version of “Working Class Hero” for the Lennon tribute/benefit in 2010 “chill-inspiring.” Released this November as part of The 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute album, the track is available on iTunes.
The New York Times noted that this artist “jumps beyond standard fare on the strength of his voice, a blue-eyed soul man’s supple instrument,” adding, “his unpretentious heartiness helps him focus on every soul singer’s goal: to amplify the sound of the ordinary heart.”
Billboard called Sexton “The real thing, people, a star with potential to permanently affect the musical landscape and keep us entertained for years to come.”
Seeing Sexton perform is reminiscent of watching one of your good friends jamming out around a bonfire. His rapport with audiences is always warm and provoking, and his shows are nothing less than a no holds barred throw-down, both musically and vocally.
In the timeless tradition of the troubadour, he goes from town to town spreading his truth. As he says, "I sing for free, man. I get paid to travel." If you are a follower, this intimate show will truly satisfy. If you are new to Sexton's music, there couldn't be a more ideal time to jump in. Just be sure to take the plunge before this show sells out, because it's not a question of if but how quickly.
"I've been a fan of his for quite a bit more than a decade and It's a real pleasure to finally share the stage with him. I hope that if you never heard him before, tonight is a turning point for you. He's one of my favorite singers and songwriters..." - Dave Matthews
"The best live performer I've ever seen… I may just quit my job and go follow Martin and make a fuss everywhere I go, just to make sure that people don't go their lives without hearing this man sing to them." - John Mayer