Joan Osborne

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Joan Osborne
Osborne performing in 2009
Osborne performing in 2009
Background information
Birth nameJoan Elisabeth Osborne
Born (1962-07-08) July 8, 1962 (age 61)
Anchorage, Kentucky, United States
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
DiscographyJoan Osborne discography
Years active1989–present
Formerly ofThe Dead, Trigger Hippy

Joan Elizabeth Osborne (born July 8, 1962) is an American singer, songwriter, and interpreter of music, having recorded and performed in various popular American musical genres including rock, pop, soul, R&B, blues, and country.[1] She is best known for her recording of the Eric Bazilian-penned song "One of Us" from her debut album, Relish (1995). Both the single and the album became worldwide hits and garnered a combined seven Grammy Award nominations. Osborne has toured with Motown sidemen the Funk Brothers and was featured in the documentary film about them, Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002).


Originally from Anchorage, Kentucky, a suburb of Louisville, Osborne moved to New York City in the late 1980s to study filmmaking at New York University, where she had classes with legendary documentarian George Stoney, among others. Osborne was paying her own way through college and taking time off to earn money for another semester when, by chance, she sang at an open mic night at the Abilene Café. The other musicians encouraged her to return, and she began singing weekly at the Abilene's open mic and at other blues open mics in NYC's East Village. She soon became immersed in NYC's live music scene, forming her own band and playing in nightclubs alongside groups like the Sweetones, Surreal McCoys, Spin Doctors, Blues Traveler, and the Holmes Brothers, and artists like Chris Whitley, Frankie Paris, and Jeff Buckley.

In 1991, she formed her own record label, Womanly Hips, to release her first full-length album, Soul Show: Live at Delta 88, and she began to tour around the Northeast, building a devoted regional following. She signed a recording contract with Rick Chertoff of Mercury Records, and released her second (and first major label) album Relish (1995), which became a hit on the strength of the single "One of Us". "Right Hand Man" and "St. Teresa" were minor hits, and "Spider Web" also received radio play. Osborne wrote and directed the second music video for "St. Teresa".

Osborne was a co-headliner for the Lilith Fair in 1997.

In 2001, Osborne produced an album for her friends the Holmes Brothers, Speaking in Tongues, engineered by Grammy winner Trina Shoemaker and featuring backing vocals from Catherine Russell, Maydie Miles, and Osborne. The album was released by Alligator Records.

In 2001, Osborne appeared on Austin City Limits, singing material mainly from Righteous Love. In a brief interview segment at the end of the episode, Osborne reflects on her gladness to have gotten out of the limelight of her mid-1990s stardom. She was featured in the 2002 documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown and toured with Motown sidemen the Funk Brothers. She and her band accompanied the Dixie Chicks for a national tour in the summer of 2003, during which time she also joined veteran San Francisco jam-rockers The Dead as a vocalist, and released her fourth album, titled How Sweet It Is, a collection of classic rock and soul covers.

Phil Lesh, Osborne, and Bob Weir playing in Virginia Beach, Virginia, June 17, 2003

During 2005 and 2006, Osborne performed on numerous occasions with Phil Lesh and Friends. Her vocals were featured prominently on the album Live at the Warfield. She continues to make appearances with the band.

In February 2007, she appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. In May 2007, she issued Breakfast in Bed, produced by Tor Hyams, a return to the soul music that she had covered on How Sweet It Is. Breakfast in Bed also featured the two songs ("Heatwave" and "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted") that she had covered for the film Standing in the Shadows of Motown. The same year, Osborne appeared as a featured guest in the third season of the Transatlantic Sessions television series, performing "Saint Teresa", "Holy Water", and "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends".

Osborne sang lead vocals on the cover of the Willie Dixon-penned "Spoonful" on Vivian Campbell's solo album Two Sides of If. She also provided some vocals for "Wayfaring Stranger" on Spearhead's 1997 album Chocolate Supa Highway. She covered Dolly Parton's "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" on the 2003 tribute album Just Because I'm a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton. She is featured on the Holmes Brothers 2007 collection State of Grace performing "Those Memories of You", an old Alan O'Bryant bluegrass tune.

Osborne released the studio album Little Wild One in September 2008. She performed as a guest vocalist on Sgt. Pepper Live, the 2009 album and DVD by Cheap Trick. In 2010, she was awarded the Woman of Achievement Award from Women's Project Theater.[2] She performed with The Waybacks at Merlefest, 2011, during the Hillside Album hour, featuring The Allman Brothers' Eat a Peach.

In 2010, Osborne again produced an album for the Holmes Brothers on Alligator Records, Feed My Soul, which featured contributions from keyboard player Glenn Patscha.

Her album Bring It On Home was released on March 27, 2012.[3] It is a collection of vintage blues and soul covers, and it received a 2013 Grammy Awards nomination for Best Blues Album. In September 2012, Osborne was featured in a campaign called "30 Songs / 30 Days" to support Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book.[4]

Osborne was a member of Trigger Hippy, along with Steve Gorman, Tom Bukovac, Jackie Greene, and Nick Govrik. The band released their debut album on September 30, 2014.[5] She announced her departure from the group on her blog in October 2018.[6]

Osborne smiling
Osborne in 2018

On October 31, 2015, Osborne and Mavis Staples performed in Washington, D.C. at The George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium as part of their Solid Soul Tour.[7]

Osborne has a long history of political activism, in particular with Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She began volunteering as a PPFA clinic escort in NYC in the 1980s, has organized benefit concerts for the group, and was honored as a PPFA "Woman of the Year" in 1997 after she promoted Planned Parenthood from the Lilith Fair stage in Houston, TX, despite being expressly forbidden to do so by the arena's owners, who then blacklisted her from the venue.[8]

Osborne released the original album Love and Hate in 2014 and followed up in 2017 with Songs of Bob Dylan, another cover album. In 2020, she published Trouble and Strife,[9] and in 2022, she issued the live compilation Radio Waves.

Personal life[edit]

Raised a Roman Catholic, Osborne distanced herself from that institution after childhood, particularly influenced by telling her parents that she wished to become a priest only to learn that women cannot become Catholic priests. As an adult, she regards herself as skeptical of large-scale organized religion and identifies as a "spiritual person" directly influenced by both Buddhism and Christianity.[10] Originally from Anchorage, Kentucky, a suburb of Louisville, Osborne moved to New York City in the late 1980s, Osborne has stated that she feels a particular attachment to the city, particularly the borough of Brooklyn. Her interest in her neighborhood of Boerum Hill’s[11] culture, history, and society has multiple influences on her music. As well, she has expressed admiration for American poetry, especially the works of Walt Whitman, and cited that as a major inspiration for her songwriting.[10]

Joan Osborne has a daughter, born in December 2004.[12]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Grammy Awards
Year Work Award Result Ref
1996 Herself Best New Artist Nominated [13]
Relish Album of the Year Nominated
"One of Us" Record of the Year Nominated
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
"St. Teresa" Best Female Rock Vocal Performance Nominated
1997 "Spider Web" Nominated [13]
2013 Bring It On Home Best Blues Album Nominated [13]

Other awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Work Category Result Ref.
1996 MTV Europe Music Awards Herself Best Female Nominated [15]
Žebřík Music Awards Best International Female Nominated [16]
1997 Brit Awards Herself International Female Solo Artist Nominated [17]
International Breakthrough Act Nominated
2010 Women's Project Theater Herself Woman of Achievement Award Won [18]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Steve Pick, Review of Joan Osborne – Bring It On Home (2012) Archived February 6, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Blues, March 2012
  2. ^ "Women of Achievement Honorees". Women's Project Theater. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  3. ^ "Bring It On Home". All Music. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
  4. ^ "30 Songs / 30 Days for Half the Sky | Half The Sky". August 30, 2012. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
  5. ^ "Trigger Hippy – "Trigger Hippy" (album stream) (Premiere)". PopMatters. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  6. ^ "Dear Trigger Hippy Fans". October 29, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  7. ^ "Mavis Staples and Joan Osborne Bring Soul to Campus - GW Today - The George Washington University". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  8. ^ "Building a Mystery: An Oral History of Lilith Fair". September 30, 2019. Retrieved March 23, 2021.
  9. ^ "Joan Osborne Gets Political in 'Trouble And Strife'". September 19, 2020. Retrieved March 23, 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Joan Osborne: Finding a Spiritual Space in an Ordinary World". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  11. ^ Lucente, Adam (February 21, 2018). "Joan of arts: Singer curates a women's music series". Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  12. ^ Christiano-Mistretta, Maryanne (July 11, 2013). "Joan Osborne Brings it on Home to Maplewoodstock". Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  13. ^ a b c [1] [dead link]
  14. ^ [2] [dead link]
  15. ^ "MTV Europe Music Awards (1996)". Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  16. ^ "1996-1992 – Anketa Žebřík".
  17. ^ "History". Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  18. ^ "The Women's Project Honors Laurie Anderson, Joan Osborne & Suzanne Vega in Concert, 3/8". Retrieved May 26, 2020.

External links[edit]