Where Are They Now: Sophie B. Hawkins
By Dustin Fitzharris
It's been 18 years since Sophie B. Hawkins released the smash hit "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover." Since then, she's continued to make music, and recently, she's also settled into motherhood. In November 2008, the native New Yorker gave birth to her son, Dashiell. This year she celebrated her 15th anniversary with her partner, whom she has never identified, although many speculate it's her longtime manager, Gigi Gaston.
As Out talked with the songstress about her upcoming album, Dream Street and Chance, and a musical she's written, it became apparent that the Hawkins of 2010 is much more reflective and free, but she still refuses to hold back and be silenced; especially when it comes to politics. She's withstood the damaged childhood courtesy of two alcoholic parents. She's dealt with her sexuality, referring to herself as omnisexual, a term she feels reflects the fact that she can fall in love with anyone as long as she loves the person's mind, heart, and soul. And she's also weathered the highs and lows of career that once saw her at the top of the charts and now has her searching for someone to release her album.
Out: You were an Out 100 honoree in 1995 and 1999. How is the Sophie of today different from the Sophie in 1995, when you were first honored?
Sophie B. Hawkins: I'm a lot less complicated. I've definitely unpacked a lot of bags, sorted through the shit and done away with it. So I have a lot less that I'm carrying around. In that way, I'm a little more back to my source. I'm happier overall just because I've come to accept so many things. I mean, look, I have a son who is so wise and generous. He just makes me laugh all the time. I've had this relationship for 15 years, and everyone knows that it just takes so much.
What does it take?
It takes commitment, but it also takes a lot of presence to keep it alive and to keep it real and not to resort to your old 'I don't need this attitude.' The good thing about it is we've built so much. We've built real success together, and it's been all creative.
And now your creativity is leading you into the world of Broadway for a show you've composed. Tell us about it.
We just did our first reading in New York. Everyone thought it was maybe going to be 50 percent there, but from the toughest critics it was 92 percent there. The star of the play said, 'This is a hit.' I never say that.
You said 'the star of the show.' It's been reported that Kristin Chenoweth is on board.
Has that been released?
Yes. Now what's the name of the show?
That I don't know if I'm allowed to reveal.
While working on the musical you were also working on an album. Does it ever feel like it's a job? Like 'Oh, I have to write two songs today?'
That's a really good question. That's another reason why I think I'm lighter now than I used to be. In '95, I never would've thought that I could write a musical and keep my writing process from my album going because they're so different. Then I also have a kid and a relationship, and I tour. I was so myopic in my focus. That was the only way I could survive because that was the only comfort I had. Now, you have to work on so many things. I think everyone does. The process for me with this musical was that I worked really hard on a couple songs, got the approval that I wasn't going to be fired, and then moved to the album.
But did you ever wake up and feel like you were under the gun to produce?
Yes! Sometimes I did. I'd finish a song for the musical, which is always an intense process, and then I'd say, 'OK, now I've got to do my album -- where am I at?' I'd go back and forth. One day I woke up, and I remember thinking, 'I've got to work on the song with Mary Steenburgen [who cowrote one of the songs on the upcoming album].' So, I got up and worked on that. Sometimes I wake up and think, 'I've got so much to do -- what the hell am I going to do?' Then I exercise and just pick the thing that seems the most pressing.
The album you've been working on is called Dream Street and Chance.
I don't know. I think I have to change the title.
Gigi says it sounds like a jazz album, but it's really not.
What kind of album is it?
It's really deep for me. It's really edgy in many ways. It's very much getting back to my roots of Tongues and Tails. It has a lot of different styles, but it's very emotion based.