Tracy Bonham

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Tracy Bonham
Tracy Bonham.jpg
Tracy Bonham performing at Webster Hall.
Background information
Born (1967-03-16) March 16, 1967 (age 47)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Origin Eugene, Oregon, U.S.
Genres Alternative rock
Post-grunge
Instruments vocals
violin
piano
acoustic guitar
Years active 1995–present
Labels PolyGram
Zoë Records
Engine Room Recordings
Lojinx
Associated acts Blue Man Group
Website Official site

Tracy Bonham (born March 16, 1967) is an American alternative rock musician best known for her 1996 single "Mother Mother".

Raised in Eugene, Oregon, Bonham is a classically-trained violinist and pianist. She received two Grammy nominations in 1997 for Best Alternative Album and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

Biography[edit]

Life and early music career[edit]

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, and raised in Eugene, Oregon, Bonham began singing at age five and playing the violin at nine. As a teen she received a full scholarship to the University of Southern California for violin, but she eventually transferred (and moved) to Boston, Massachusetts in 1994, where she attended the Berklee College of Music to study voice instead. While there she started writing songs and in early 1995 she released her first EP, The Liverpool Sessions, and the single "The One" won best single in the Boston Phoenix reader's poll.

Also that year, based on a performance in a local club in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Toad, a representative from Island Records signed her to a record deal[citation needed]. She immediately began work on her first album.

The Burdens of Being Upright[edit]

After recording at Fort Apache Studio in Cambridge for several months, in 1996 Bonham released her debut full-length album The Burdens of Being Upright. Magazines such as Rolling Stone and People noted her bold approach to rock music. The album went gold within six months and later that year she was nominated for the Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Performance and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance (for "Mother Mother").[1] She then went on an extensive tour in support of the album.

The first single, "Mother Mother", went number one on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart for a month in late 1996. The second single, "The One" (taken from the 1995 EP), was a minor hit and peaked at #23 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart,[2] and two different music video versions of the song were briefly in heavy rotation on video music channels MTV and VH1. The third and final single, "Sharks Can't Sleep" failed to chart in the US.

Down Here[edit]

After the mild success[3] of her first album, problems emerged during the recording of her next album from her own label. In 1998, all of the Island Records as well as Polygram Records and other associated labels were purchased by Seagrams, as the various labels now were under the umbrella imprint of UMG, or Universal Music Group, LLC.

Although Bonham had recorded a second album for release (in possibly 1998) titled "Trails of a Dust Devil" (with promotional items having even been sent out), the new label delayed the release until mid-2000, re-titling it Down Here. The newly-titled album - and the only single released from it, "Behind Every Good Woman" - failed to chart, despite scrambled attempts to do interviews and tour for an album that was given a half-hearted release. She then took a small break after promoting the album while quietly searching for a new label.[citation needed]

Bee EP[edit]

In late 2001 she divorced Steve Slingeneyer (of the band Soulwax) after three years of marriage. At the same time, as Bonham began to record new music for her third album, Island Records cited they were going in a different direction (they were now favoring mostly male bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit) and she was released from her recording contract.[4]

She then left studio recording behind and began to tour in support of other groups such as the performance group Blue Man Group[5] and even rock band Aerosmith. In 2003 she recorded and released an independent EP titled Bee. It included early versions of "Shine" and "All Thumbs" and a live version of "Freed" (from the "Down Here" album), and a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog", where she substituted violin solos for the signature lead guitar line in the original.

She had only pressed 1,000 hoping to sell 500, but she eventually sold over 12,000 of the EP's while on the various tours. With the money made from the EP she returned to the studio to start work on her third full-length LP in Los Angeles, California. (The "Bee" EP was later re-issued in Europe as the "Something Beautiful" EP with the addition of a track titled "Blink the Brightest" and a bonus DVD with live performances.)

In 2004, she signed with Rounder Records, whose CEO, John Virant, was a longtime fan and spent over three years convincing Tracy to trust a record company again.

Blink the Brightest[edit]

In 2005 she released her third album Blink the Brightest through the more pop-oriented Zoe label of Rounder. It was recorded in L.A., where she has lived part-time since 2003. She co-produced the bulk of the album with Greg Collins (U2, No Doubt, Matchbox Twenty); Joey Waronker, who has drummed for R.E.M. and Beck, co-produced four tracks.

Along with Bonham, the players included drummers Waronker and Butch (of The Eels), bassists Sebastian Steinberg (from Soul Coughing & Neil Finn) and Davey Faragher (having performed for Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow), guitarists Joe Gore (from Tom Waits, P.J. Harvey) and Dave Levita (Alanis Morissette, Jewel) and keyboard player Mitchell Froom (Paul McCartney, Los Lobos).

She performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and her new songs were featured on XM Radio's The Loft Channel.

In The City + In The Woods EP[edit]

While in upstate New York in the late fall of 2006 Bonham released the EP In The City + In The Woods, her second self-funded EP. The 11-track disc featured two studio tracks, a cover version of Beyoncé Knowles's "Crazy In Love" and an original titled "In My Other Life". The rest of the songs are live tracks, which include some older favorites - "One Hit Wonder" and a new version of "Navy Bean" - covers ("Blue Jay Way" & "Kissing The Lipless"), and previously unreleased material ("Your World Turns Upside Down", "The Idiot In Me").

Masts of Manhatta[edit]

From 2007–2009, Bonham recorded songs for her new album in Woodstock. The 2010 album, titled Masts of Manhatta, was produced by Bonham and mixed by Tchad Blake, and was released under the New York City indie label Engine Room Recordings in the United States and on Lojinx Records in the UK.[6]

Personal life and about her music[edit]

Bonham currently splits her time between Woodstock, New York, and Brooklyn, New York. She is married to Rolling Stone executive editor Jason Fine and in 2010 was planning for an adoption.[7] Bonham has said of her music, "I think I stopped trying to prove so much to people. I went inward and realized that being honest and not being so veiled and cryptic can actually touch more people. In the past, I wanted to be deep, but then I went too far and was over-thinking everything. Now I just write from the heart."[8]

She is also a self-taught guitarist.[8] She once said, "Guitar-wise, I have a certain style that I can't seem to get any guitar player to mimic, and it's because they're good and I'm bad," she has said. "And I don't mind. There's a way I want to hear it, so I just do it myself."[8]

Discography[edit]

Albums

EPs

Live

Singles

Digital releases

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award
1996 MTV Video Music Awards nomination for Best New Artist ("Mother Mother")
1996 MTV Video Music Awards nomination for Best Female Video ("Mother Mother")
1997 Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Performance (The Burdens of Being Upright)
1997 Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance ("Mother Mother")

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Babyface, Smashing Pumpkins Lead 1997 Grammy Nominees", Rolling Stone (Jann Wenner), January 7, 1997, retrieved June 2, 2011 
  2. ^ Top Music Charts - Hot 100 - Billboard 200 - Music Genre Sales[dead link]
  3. ^ Leahey, Andrew, "Tracy Bonham — Biography", Allmusic (Rovi Corporation), retrieved June 2, 2011 
  4. ^ Anderman, Joan (June 19, 2005), "Up, Down, and Now Somewhere Between", The Boston Globe (The New York Times Company), retrieved June 2, 2011 
  5. ^ http://www.broadway.com/buzz/171192/blue-man-group-unveils-new-concert-with-tracy-bonham-monobloco-more-at-the-hollywood-bowl/ Blue Man Group Unveils New Concert with Tracy Bonham, Monobloco & More at the Hollywood Bowl By Lindsay Champion August 15, 2013 Retrieved 12/21/13
  6. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (July 6, 2010), "Tracy Bonham Makes a Fresh Start", Billboard (Prometheus Global Media), retrieved June 2, 2011 
  7. ^ Chinen, Nate (July 23, 2010), "Interview: Tracy Bonham — Musician", The Scotsman (The Scotsman Publications), retrieved June 2, 2011 
  8. ^ a b c "Tracy Bonham — Blink the brightest". www.tracybonham.com. Archived from the original on 2006-11-13. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  9. ^ "TRACY BONHAM - EYES (2006 PROMO CD)". eBay. 2011-09-06. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 

External links[edit]