Joan Osborne Interview

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Homespun, blues-based rock performer and platinum-selling recording artist Joan Osborne makes her Hawaii debut this summer when she graces the stage of Honokaa People’s Theatre on July 30.

The seven-time Grammy Award nominee is best known for her hit song, “(What if God Was) One of Us” and is currently on tour to promote her latest album “Love and Hate.”

Growing up in Kentucky, Osborne discovered her love of music with her parents’ old console stereo and “The Sound of Music” soundtrack.

“We had this big console stereo that was like a big piece of furniture,” said Osborne. “I used to sit next to the speaker and listen to this record over and over again, singing the different parts. Then, when I got older and went to high school, I became a big fan of the Pretenders, The Rolling Stones, and The Who.”

Osborne moved to New York City in the late 1980s to attend New York University’s film school. It was there she was lured into the city’s live music scene. Soon she was performing her original songs at downtown rock clubs, and in 1992 founded her own indie label, “Womanly Hips.” Osborne’s local success evolved into a deal with a major label, and in 1995 she released her multi-platinum album “Relish,” which included her No. 1 single “One of Us.”

Among Osborne’s musical heroes, is the legendary Mavis Staples.

 “If I had to pick one musical hero, it would be Mavis Staples,” she said. “I was really fortunate to have done a tour with her last fall. She was a hero of mine long before I ever worked with her. Not only is she an amazing singer, but she’s also an incredible figure in American music and American culture. There’s something about her voice that people really connect with. She is on fire at 76 and is still going strong. I can’t ask more from a hero than that.”

Osborne’s talent has allowed her to perform with some of the industry’s greatest artists, including Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Emmylou Harris, Patti Smith, Melissa Etheridge, Taj Mahal, Luciano Pavarotti and the Chieftains.

“I’d like to keep performing and keep getting better,” said Osborne. “I’ve been really blessed to have this amazing career. I’ve been able to travel all over the world and sing with people in little clubs and big stadiums. I got to do a concert for the Dali Lama in India, and sing with Pavaratti in Italy. I’ve gotten to do so many things, and been welcomed in to so many worlds. I’ve been really fortunate. I want to keep putting music out into the world that is a positive force in people’s lives. It’s a privilege that I appreciate, and hope to never take it for granted.”