Joan Osborne was born on July 8, 1963, in Kentucky. Originally, Joan attended NYU's film school, but began singing at clubs around New York City after singing Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" at a bar's open-mic night at the urging of friends.
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In 1992, Joan formed her own label Womanly Hips and released a live LP, Soul Show. Joan then released the EP, Blue Million Miles and signed with Mercury Records not long after. Joan displayed that she is gifted not only with her voice, but with her complex lyrics that invoke both the imagination and the mind. She put rock and soul qualities in all her songs, creating infectious and personable music.
Joan's first major label breakthrough LP Relish was released in March 1995. The LP found critical success, but didn't find commercial success until "One Of Us" hit the radio airwaves and video channels in 1996. The track hit #1 for 2 weeks and allowed other tracks on the LP to get more exposure (notably, "Right Hand Man" and "St. Teresa"). Relish went on to sell over 3 million copies in the U.S. and was named Album of the Year by Entertainment Weekly.
Joan went on to receive 7 Grammy Award nominations: Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "One Of Us," Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "St. Teresa," and Best New Artist. Although she went home empty handed, Joan had established herself as a major female recording artist. Joan was the catalyst for some Grammy controversy in 1996. Religious groups were complaining that Joan's songs "One Of Us" and "St. Teresa" were anti-religious. Grammy officials did not give in to the controversy. Ironically, Joan's ability to express potent imagery with her lyrics had teenagers singing "What if God was one of us" while religious zealots cried blasphemy. In November '96, Joan released Early Recordings which contain selections from Soul Show: Live At Delta (from '91) and Blue Million Miles (from '93).
Joan was nominated again in 1997 for a Grammy Award: Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "Spider Web." Also in 1997, Joan participated in the highly successful Lilith Fair tour. At one point during the tour, Joan took a stand for pro-choice rights. Planned Parenthood had problems being allowed to set up a booth due to the venue's policies. The tour's organizer, Sarah McLachlan, and Joan stated that in the future they would not perform at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Texas. Osborne later graced the stage with a Planned Parenthood t-shirt and stated to the crowd, "I'm the face of pro-choice Texas."
Furthermore, I'd like to reiterate and emphasize Joan's feminist & political interests. She has participated in many pro-choice events, giving support for women's reproductive rights. She's an honorary member of Planned Parenthood's Board Of Advocates which she admits is more symbolic than anything but nevertheless significant for the attention it draws. Joan has also supported Rock the Vote, donating her voice to "I'm Just a Bill" on the Schoolhouse Rocks the Vote album. Joan, also, has a strong interest and love for Qawwali music, an ancient form of spiritual, Indian music. She studied briefly with late Qawwali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In addition to classic influences such as Etta James and Ray Charles, Joan continues to seek and learn different styles of music. She's performed with an eclectic group of notables such as Stevie Wonder, Melissa Etheridge, Taj Mahal, Lucianno Pavarotti, Spearhead, Bob Dylan, The Chieftains, and Isaac Hayes. Joan has made quite an impression through touring and other live appearances, earning many critical accolades as having one of the strongest voices in rock. Steve Peters adds:
...the passion of her recorded output thus far seems indicative of an artist well on her way to earning a place among the best blues rock vocalists ever, male or female.
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