Bonnie's speech for Shawn Colvin at the Americana Awards & Honors (Sept 21, 2016)


I’m so glad I could gather round the Americana campfire with you all again tonight, honoring and celebrating the kinds of artists that don’t quite fit into shoes off the shelf...
Quirky, smart, devoted to their craft and the roots of the music they love.

Those qualities fit the woman I’m here to honor tonight. You can add gutsy, soulful, heartbreaking, badass and above all, totally original.

From the  time Jackson Browne turned me on to her first album, Steady On—I was gone. It was like when someone played me this band they thought I’d like, Little Feat. Or the way I was blown open forever discovering Joni Mitchell. There’s not many that get me that  deep —but Shawn Colvin does.

Born in Vermillion, South Dakota, her creative impulses were sparked by James Taylor's “Fire and Rain,” Joni Mitchell, and the whole batch of confessional songwriters from the '70s. She sang rock, she sang western swing down in Austin, and when Buddy Miller left his band behind in New York, she took it over. She came up with Suzanne Vega in what they marketed as a fresh folk boom, went on to win a number of GRAMMY™s, and have some pop success with hit songs like "Sunny Came Home" and "Get Out of This House." She’s  also done some acting on stage,  voice work for the Simpsons and recently wrote a gutsy autobiography, Diamond in the Rough, named for the first song she wrote with John Leventhal and one of my all time favorites.

She’s simply one of the best singers I’ve ever heard— and a truly gifted and deep songwriter and guitarist. Her wit and humor on stage—that sly Dakota foxiness—along with her whole sinuous  manner and  voice, make her sexy without having to sell it.  She was groundbreaking when she emerged and continues to inspire me and the legions of fans and other singer/songwriters coming up in her wake.

It's why I’m particularly honored to bestow the Americana Music Association’s 2016
Trailblazer Award to my dear friend,  Shawn Colvin.


© 2016 Bonnie Raitt