Joan Osborne has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the great voices of her generation — both a commanding, passionate performer and a frank, emotionally evocative songwriter. Osborne is widely known for her beloved hit song, “(What If God Was) One of Us,” as well as her live performances of “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” and “Heat Wave” in the Grammy Award-winning documentary “Standing in the Shadows of Motown.”
A multi-platinum selling recording artist and seven-time Grammy Award nominee, the soulful vocalist and noted song interpreter is a highly sought-after collaborator and guest performer who has performed alongside many notable artists, including The Dead, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Luciano Pavarotti, Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal, the Holmes Brothers, and Patti Smith.
Counting such legendary artists as Etta James and Ray Charles as influences, Osborne is firmly rooted in R&B and soul, as evidenced by the soul covers she has recorded on her albums “How Sweet It Is” and “Breakfast in Bed,” in addition to “Bring It On Home,” which garnered a Best Blues Album nomination at the 2013 Grammy Awards.
Osborne’s most recent album, 2014’s “Love and Hate,” featured a stunning dozen personal portraits in song. The album featured instrumental contributions from Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and Spin Doctors drummer Aaron Comess, and backup vocals by Woodstock-based singers including Gail Ann Dorsey, Catherine Russell and Amy Helm.
The same creative dedication that spawned “Love and Hate” has been a hallmark of Joan Osborne’s work from the start. Although the Kentucky native grew up with a passion for music, when she arrived in New York City in the late 1980s, it was to attend New York University’s prestigious film school. But she couldn’t resist the pull of the city’s live music scene for long, and soon she was performing her own songs in downtown rock clubs and emerging as a popular presence in a vibrant scene of rootsy new acts that included such then-unknowns as Jeff Buckley, Chris Whitley, Blues Traveler and the Spin Doctors. In 1992, Osborne launched her own indie label, Womanly Hips, and released the live “Soul Show: Live at Delta 88” and the studio EP “Blue Million Miles.”
Osborne’s regional success led to a major-label deal and the release of her 1995 multi-platinum breakthrough album “Relish,” which included her number-one single, “One of Us.” That song, along with a well-received run on 1997’s inaugural Lilith Fair tour, introduced her to a wide audience.
But Osborne quickly made it clear that she was more interested in musical integrity and creative longevity than transient pop success, and she made that point repeatedly with subsequent albums and in her work with the soul-rock group the Holmes Brothers.
More recently, Osborne has toured and recorded as a member of Trigger Hippy, which also includes rising Americana star Jackie Greene and Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman.
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