Tracy Bonham performing at Webster Hall.
March 16, 1967 |
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
|Origin||Eugene, Oregon, U.S.|
Engine Room Recordings
|Associated acts||Blue Man Group|
Life and early music career
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. She immediately began work on her first album.
The Burdens of Being Upright
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"). 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, 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.
After the mild success 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 Tracy 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.
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.
She then left studio recording behind and began to tour in support of other groups such as the performance group Blue Man Group 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 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).
In The City + In The Woods EP
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
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.
Personal life and about her music
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. 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."
She is also a self-taught guitarist. 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."
- The Burdens of Being Upright - 1996
- Down Here - 2000
- Blink the Brightest - 2005
- Masts of Manhatta - 2010
- The Liverpool Sessions - 1995 (EP)
- Bee - 2003 (EP)
- Something Beautiful - 2005 (EP/DVD)
- In The City/In The Woods - 2006 (EP)
- Pure McCartney (2013)
- "Sunshine" - 1995
- "Dandelion" - 1995
- "Mother Mother"
- "The One" - 1996
- "Sharks Can't Sleep" - 1996
- "Navy Bean" - 1996
- "Behind Every Good Woman" - 2000
- "Something Beautiful" - 2005
- "Shine" - 2005
- "Eyes" - 2005 
- "Big Red Heart" - 2010
- Carry Me Home - 2008 (Website download)
- Your Night Is Wide Open - 2008 (Website download)
- The Size of My Fist - 2008 (available on iTunes)
- The Indelible Man - 2008 (available on iTunes)
- In My Heart (Bill Withers cover) - 2009 (available on iTunes and the compilation album "Before The Goldrush")
- The Hugger, The Screamer, and Me - 2009 (Website download)
- In The Pines (Leadbelly cover) - 2011 (Website download)
Awards and nominations
|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")|
- "Babyface, Smashing Pumpkins Lead 1997 Grammy Nominees", Rolling Stone (Jann Wenner), January 7, 1997, retrieved June 2, 2011
- Top Music Charts - Hot 100 - Billboard 200 - Music Genre Sales[dead link]
- Leahey, Andrew, "Tracy Bonham — Biography", Allmusic (Rovi Corporation), retrieved June 2, 2011
- Anderman, Joan (June 19, 2005), "Up, Down, and Now Somewhere Between", The Boston Globe (The New York Times Company), retrieved June 2, 2011
- Lipshutz, Jason (July 6, 2010), "Tracy Bonham Makes a Fresh Start", Billboard (Prometheus Global Media), retrieved June 2, 2011
- Chinen, Nate (July 23, 2010), "Interview: Tracy Bonham — Musician", The Scotsman (The Scotsman Publications), retrieved June 2, 2011
- "Tracy Bonham — Blink the brightest". www.tracybonham.com. Archived from the original on 2006-11-13. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
- "TRACY BONHAM - EYES (2006 PROMO CD)". eBay. 2011-09-06. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tracy Bonham.|
- Official website
- Tracy Bonham at the Internet Movie Database
- Tracy Bonham discography at MusicBrainz