May 6, 2004

Sophie B. Hawkins Does it All

By Randy J. Klodz

Singer/songwriter/performer extraordinaire Sophie B. Hawkins is back--not that she ever really went away--and she’s still doing one thing that many artists don’t do these days: She’s calling her own shots; just the way she always has across her storied career, and she will be making a Chicago stop on her current tour at House of Blues on May 16.

Hawkins first turned heads with the unexpected 1992 hit “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,” from her debut gold-certified record “Tongues and Tails,” and the world was introduced to an out-spoken songstress bound to set the radio waves afire with her infectious lyrics, and her propensity for being one of the hardest working musicians of her time.

Though the out-spoken Hawkins wasn’t trying to attract attention to herself with her words, or actions, she has found a distinction between the way the world is now, than it was a decade ago. “If I came out the way I did then, now there would be even more of a reaction,” said Hawkins. “It’s a much more conservative time now.”

Today’s society may be less open than it was in 1992, but the radio waves have always had open-arms toward Hawkins’ music. According to Broadcast Date Systems, Hawkins’ “As I Lay Me Down” single from her 1994 album “Whaler,” is currently the longest-running single in the history of Adult Contemporary radio, a feat that Hawkins takes great pride in.

“I think it’s a wonderful song and I understand why it is the longest [running single],” she said. “I think it hits the part of peoples’ hearts that is very pure. That has also opened up the doors for me--people are so receptive now [after the success of “As I Lay Me Down’] to say, ‘Hey, let’s hear what she’s got.’”

Currently touring behind “Wilderness,” released on April 20, Hawkins plans to play a two-hour show at each tour stop, filled with tracks from the new album, as well as hits from her endless bag of singles her, a show her devout following and new group of fans is bound to ingest. The “Wilderness” track “Sweetsexywoman” has a sexy piano-bar vibe with Hawkins light, wispy vocals behind occasional light jazz guitar riffs. “Meet Me on a Rooftop” has a bouncy feel to it that is sure to one day be mixed in local dance clubs, while the light-grooving “Walking on Thin Ice,” has been one of the most added songs to Adult Contemporary radio within its recent release.

Over the course of her career, Hawkins has been one of those people that Hollywood requests, while in most cases, artists--or struggling actor types--pitch themselves through an endless number of tryouts. She has been cast to play Jessica Simpson’s mother in the upcoming film “Walk On” and may be the star of her own reality show, among other projects.

“I never pursue acting at all,” Hawkins said. “I’ve been in, I think two or three movies and how it has always happened is that some producer or some director just likes me. They see me in something and they say, ‘Sophie would be great for this.’”

House of Blues is at 329 N. Dearborn St. Tickets for this 21+ show are listed for $20 each with show start time scheduled for 9:30 p.m. For more information on Hawkins log on to www.sophiebhawkins.com.
Sophie B. Hawkins Photo: Gigi Gaston