Songstress goes acoustic alone
Three-time Grammy Award-winner Shawn Colvin will present an evening of acoustic music on Oct. 6 at the newly reopened Sheldon Theatre.
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. The event will open with a set by Mary Bue, a Minneapolis indie singer-songwriter.
A South Dakota native who spent much of her childhood in Illinois, Colvin first picked up a guitar at age 10 and was making public appearances on the University of Illinois campus when she was just 15.
Country music was her field and Texas her home in the late 1970s, but that changed when she moved to New York and met John Leventhal, a producer, guitarist and co-writer.
"Leventhal inspired Colvin to find her own voice as a songwriter," Sheldon officials said. She began honing her skill, was signed to Columbia Records and issued her first album, "Steady On." It won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Recording.
Subsequent releases in the 1990s won over fans and critics. Colvin's breakthrough occurred in 1996, when she released "A Few Small Repairs." It went platinum, the ballad "Sunny Came Home" hit the Top 10, and she won two of Grammy's biggest honors — Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
She has released 11 albums, written a critically acclaimed memoir, maintained a nonstop national and international touring schedule, appeared on countless television and radio programs, had her songs featured in major motion pictures, and created an extensive canon of work.
The evolution of her career does not mean there have been big changes in Colvin, however.
Asked to describe the voice she speaks with today, she commented, "I think it's pretty much the same voice. The changes have to do with age and experience and, hopefully, some wisdom born of those.
"I think you mostly stay who you are, though. I have a dear friend in Minnesota that I met when I was 5 in South Dakota. I find it stunning that we are still essentially the same people."
Some of her songs reflect her Midwest roots, Colvin said, citing "Wichita Skyline" and "Set the Prairie on Fire." For the most part, though, "I'd say my reflections on my days in South Dakota have more to do with my upbringing," she said.
The Sheldon described Colvin as a storyteller who is "both keen and warm-hearted" who can be tender and empathetic but also has "a searing sense of humor."
"In a way I think all of us who write are telling some story or another," she acknowledged.
Colvin's latest release stems from her early years. "The Starlighter" is filled with songs she adapted from a children's music book.
Her parents gave her "Lullabies and Night Songs" when she was 8, Colvin said, recalling "exquisite arrangements that have always inspired me."
Sheldon officials called 14 traditional songs and children's standards "an elegant and graceful musical offering that resonates with the warmth and tenderness of poignant familial experience and remembrance."
Colvin has performed many times in Minnesota, including four nights last June at the Dakota in Minneapolis and an appearance at the Minnesota Zoo.
For the Sheldon concert, "there will be songs from my whole catalogue as well as plenty of stories," she said.
"I'll be solo acoustic, just me and the audience. It's an intimate evening."
The Colvin concert is part of the Sheldon's Great Sounds Series. Tickets are $35 to $40. For reservations call 651-388-8700 or go online to www.sheldontheatre.org.