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Sophie B. Hawkins transcends to a new level

Posted: February 24th, 2012 | Cover stories, News | No Comments

Grammy-nominated artist set to release new album, appear at Ramona Mainstage March 2

By Esther Rubio-Sheffrey | GSD Reporter

"The Crossing" cover

Grammy-nominated artist Sophie B. Hawkins is back with a concert at the Ramona Mainstage on March 2 and the release of her long-awaited latest album “The Crossing.” The new album, which will be released at the Ramona performance, features new songs as well as piano-acoustic versions of Hawkins’s biggest hits, “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” and “As I Lay Me Down.”

It has been 20 years since “Tongues and Tails”—the album that spawned “Damn I Wish I was Your Lover”—but Hawkins said she is grateful for her first single and continues to search for meaningful ways to express herself. “‘Damn’ is not just a single. It is still a relevant, beautiful piece of poetry and music. I am really proud of it,” Hawkins said.

“It’s great that you are talking to me 20 years later because, when I put that album out, I didn’t think I would make it to the second [album], but I am still here,” she added.

Hawkins said she has come to terms with the fact that the music industry was not going to continue to demand new singles from her and that creating music has become her own process. “The Crossing” is, in many ways, an embodiment of that attitude, she said.

“People won’t sense it right away, but [this album] is so organic and anti-produced. It is aesthetically true to itself. Even though I have been defined and supported by my hits, I stopped trying to make a hit single because that is just not the road for me anymore,” Hawkins said, adding, “I really let go of everything and I went for the organic truth of each song.”

Sophie B. Hawkins (Courtesy Lisa Lori Communications)

Through trial and error, Hawkins said she realized she could not get the right mix of musicians together for her albums, either. Therefore, for “The Crossing,” she said she drew on her own natural instincts. “When I first write songs, I always record demos with a piano, drums and all the different instruments I play,” Hawkins said. “I have never been able to beat the feeling of the first demo.”

With her new album, the three years it took to make allowed her to piece each of the songs together from her own demos, dubbing in bass and guitar players when necessary. Hawkins said she did not hire a band. “It was simple, and it worked,” she said. “It is even more unique today because it is not like anything else out there.”

The title of the album as well as its cover art—inspired by a painting of a cross and a palm tree Hawkins created—are symbolic for the musician, representing the creative process for the album and her own personal life journey.

“This is where I am now in my life,” she said. “The cross is symbolic in many ways, not in an oppressive sense, but like the old female fertility symbol of a tree. When you see the painting it will mean more, but this [album represents] my crossing into the next level.” During the creative process for the new album, Hawkins gave birth to her son, Dashiell. She and her long-time partner and manager, Gigi Gaston, are raising Dashiell together.

“This has been the hardest and best time of my life. It’s been an amazing challenge,” she said. “I feel like I, along with a lot of people, am going through transcendence, and it is either I cross or I die.”

Despite dealing with difficulties in recent years, including the death of her father, Hawkins said she found strength in the birth of her son. “Being a mother is great and it is like being an artist, except more fulfilling and challenging,” she said. “I never know what is going to be fulfilling but there are these moments that are so awesome.”

Hawkins used her picture of a cross and palm tree as inspiration for the new album. (Courtesy Lisa Lori Communications)

Hawkins wrote “A Child,” one of the 22 songs on the album, before Dashiell was born. “If you meet him, he is very much in the song,” she said, “…and it is amazing how you know what is coming even though you pretend not to.” Hawkins also said Dashiell inspired many songs on the album, her favorite being “Georgia.”

“I love the feeling and meaning of ‘Georgia’ because the world has gotten so used to mediocrity… and I am so tired of people who do not stand for something real,” she said.

“For me, the best is yet to come. There is going to be an opening in the consciousness and I am going to slip through again. I don’t know when, but I feel it,” she said. “I am at my most positive… I am very involved and in touch and I am willing to put myself on the line on so many levels. When I hear this album, it feels current, vibrant and just cool as shit, and that’s exciting.”

Tickets for Hawkins’s Ramona Mainstage concert on March 2 are $20. Doors open for the show at 7 p.m. and the venue is located at 626 Main St., Ramona, Calif. “The Crossing” will be available at the show. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ramonamainstage.com.

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