Any child of the ’90s can sing the chorus to “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” by Sophie B. Hawkins. It was inevitable, in 1992 when the song was released, that you’d find yourself trapped in the car with your parents, listening as the bedroom-voiced Hawkins sang, “And I lay by the ocean making love to her with visions clear.” Not awkward at all!
Now Hawkins is back, and the legendary singer/songwriter will be performing songs from her upcoming album at Amagansett’s Stephen Talkhouse on June 18. She’s no stranger to Long Island and is excited for the show. “I used to go to Sag Harbor in the summers when I was a kid. So much of the area resonates with me.”
Known for her powerful storytelling and distinctive voice on tracks such as “I Want You” and “Right Beside You,” Hawkins reflects on the source of her inspiration. “It comes from the simplest triggers.” She explains that lyrics, like “I’m still recalling things you said to make me feel all right / I carried them with me today,” from the chart-topping “As I Lay Me Down,” are prompted by moments in her own life.
Hawkins says, “You can control what you wear and what you eat. There are so many things in life you can control, but you can’t control what comes out of you in terms of art. Basically, I think that we all have a well of creativity inside of us. Our own unique stories, our own unique voice.” The curiosity and amazement she experiences, and care she takes, with her art is evident.
Hawkins has been on the singing and songwriting path for as long as she can remember. “As a kid I loved songs. I loved Bob Dylan when I was little and I thought, ‘I am that.’ And I think ‘that’ was probably a song. Ever since I was a little kid I thought, ‘I am a song.’ The actual song, not the artist.”
In 2010, Hawkins became involved with the Waterkeeper Alliance—a global nonprofit focused solely on clean water. It works to protect more than 100,000 miles of rivers, streams and coastlines all over the world. Nature is another strong influence on Hawkins and she released a song, “The Land, The Sea, And the Sky,” to benefit the efforts of the Alliance. “I can never do enough with my causes, but when people buy my song on iTunes, every single penny goes to the Waterkeeper Alliance.”
Though her career has spanned decades, one of Hawkins’ favorite experiences happened recently when she appeared on Broadway. “It was so amazing to get to Broadway where people work so hard and are always performing new roles and new material. They never take anything for granted.” Hawkins has begun work on her own musical, but she says she’ll write it the same way she composes her songs—telling her own story through the music. She’s no stranger to the genre, having played the role of Janis Joplin in the musical Room 105 to great acclaim.
Hawkins is now getting ready for her upcoming performance at the Stephen Talkhouse. She’s looking forward to playing a mix of new songs, in addition to many of her classics. As she gets older, she explains,her earlier songs have become more meaningful. “I kind of grow into them and they never stop amazing me. I feel very privileged to have written them.”
Sophie B. Hawkins performs at the Stephen Talkhouse, 161 Main Street, Amagansett, on Saturday, June 18 at 7 p.m. For ticket information, go to stephentalkhouse.com or call 631-267-3117.