| June 6, 2011 | People
JOHN OATES: Who influenced you as a singer and guitarist?
SHAWN COLVIN: For singers, can I mention you? Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Bonnie Raitt and Donald Fagen. [For guitar], Dylan, The Kingston Trio, Joni Mitchell and Richard Thompson
How did you learn guitar? Did you take lessons or learn by listening to other people?
SC: My father played banjo and guitar. He was an avid Kingston Trio fan, so there was music in the house. My brother was given a four-string harmony guitar, which he lost interest in. But I picked it up when I was about 10, and my father taught me the beginnings of some basic chords. Then I kind of taught myself the rest.
Between writing, recording and touring, which would you say is the most important?
SC: Touring. It’s my bread and butter. I really feel like a song isn’t completely done until you’ve played it to your audience. I think you get a real good bullshit detector when you’ve got to do it in front of your people, not just your friend or your partner. There’s just an honesty and a connection that happens in that process. Playing for people is vital.
Your album Shawn Colvin Live was nominated for a Grammy last year. What are the qualities that make a great live album?
SC: One of my favorite live records is a James Taylor double disc for three reasons: One, it’s recorded extremely well. Two, they made it clear that there were no fixes. Three, when someone gets recorded live and their voice still sounds great, that’s testament to a really fine singer.
You recently played at the second annual 7908: The Aspen Songwriters Festival. What do you like about Aspen?
SC: Since it’s a songwriters’ festival, it’s really an honor. Songwriting is not the easiest thing I do. It’s hard work for me. I love the Wheeler Opera House. I did The Vagina Monologues there. I was one of three women who did the reading. I’ve played at Belly Up Aspen and I love it. Aspen is beautiful. I love to ski. I love the town and I love the audience. It’s been very friendly to me.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TRACI GOUDIE