Sophie B. Hawkins

  • Indie singer, song writer, musician born Sophie Ballantine Hawkins in 1964 in Manhattan, New York.
  • At the age of 14, Hawkins took an interest in African music, and began studying African percussion instruments. She branched into jazz, and eventually was skilled at drums, marimba and vibraphone. After high school, she enrolled at Manhattan School of Music and expanded to pop and rock music, playing drums in a punk rock band and several other music groups. She began to write songs and to sing, and a demo tape that she made found its way to Bryan Ferry of the band Roxy Music. Ferry hired her to sing and play percussion for 2 months while he toured. After that, she sang jingles in commercials to make ends meet. In 1991, a record company heard her demo tape, and signed her to a contract.
  • Her debut album, Tongues and Tails, was released in 1992. Other than a Bob Dylan cover, the other songs were written by Hawkins, and blended her interests in jazz, R&B, rock and African music. Her first single was a surprise hit – Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover (with Melissa Etheridge on backing vocals) reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The success of the album and song led to a Grammy award nomination for Best New Artist.
  • Hawkins’ next album was released in 1994 – Whaler. It languished for a year, but when the single As I Lay Me Down was released, she reached the charts again, topping the Adult Contemporary chart and peaking at #6 on the Hot 100. The song appeared in the film Now and Then as well as the TV series Party of Five, where she performed the song as a guest star in an episode. The song was on the chart for 67 weeks, one of the longest running songs in the history of the Adult Contemporary chart.
  • She insisted on more creative freedom on her next album. After completing it, her record label was unhappy and directed her to re-record portions of it. Hawkins refused, and after months of haggling, Timbre finally was released in 1999 in the form that Hawkins wanted. The label refused to promote it, and Hawkins soon left the label, creating her own label and re-releasing an expanded version in 2001. Unfortunately for Hawkins, the lack of promotion kept the album and singles off the U.S. charts entirely.
  • While she was battling her record label, a documentary about her life and her music was released in 1998. Titled The Cream Will Rise, it followed her on her concert tour, and also exposed her turbulent relationship with her mother. It featured Hawkins performing over 20 of her songs.
  • No longer compelled to perform songs that were destined for commercial success, Hawkins released studio albums in 2004 and 2012, as well as a live album in 2006. In 2012, she starred in a 4 month run of a musical theater show titled Room 105: The Highs and Lows of Janis Joplin, with Hawkins playing/singing the role of Joplin (Joplin died of an overdose in Room 105 of the Landmark Motor Hotel in Los Angeles). A new album is expected to be released later in 2019, and she has been working on a musical theater piece that she refers to as her Playsical.
  • The first version of her video to the song Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover was banned by MTV for “excessive erotic content” – it featured Hawkins singing the song in a revealing outfit, moving erotically, and even today, you can’t find it on YouTube. Apparently in 1992, such things were frowned upon – I think today that there be no controversy at all (see Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball with its 1 billion views on YouTube)! Here’s the much less racy version that was shot after the initial controversy.

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