As her hit debut turns 30, Sophie B. Hawkins keeps finding new audiences

Singer-songwriter rides revived interest in the ’90s, the era of ‘Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover’ and her other biggest singles.

SHARE As her hit debut turns 30, Sophie B. Hawkins keeps finding new audiences
Sophie B. Hawkins 

Sophie B. Hawkins

Nigel Dick

If you get Sophie B. Hawkins talking about the ingenues of ’90s music — Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos, Liz Phair (and even herself) — she will pipe up with a great metaphor of the era’s ongoing longevity and relevance. It’s basically “Thelma & Louise” — in an alternate ending.

“Remember in the movie, when they went off the cliff? My feeling is we’re picking up right where they left off. … Thelma and Louise didn’t go down into the ravine. They’re still flying and here we are, still creating and thriving,” says Hawkins, speaking from her home in New England during a break between tour dates, a long-awaited run that will bring her to Evanston’s SPACE on Dec. 1.

The night will celebrate the 30th anniversary of her platinum-selling debut album, “Tongues and Tails,” which produced songs like the provocative “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,” about rescuing a woman from an abusive relationship, a track which nabbed her a best new artist Grammy nomination in 1993.

sophie b. hawkins

Sophie B. Hawkins, with Seth Glier

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 1

Where: Evanston SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston

Tickets: $25-$40


Hawkins is also celebrating a new creative lifeline, caught up in renewed interest of the once-gilded Lilith Fair era. As the tangible angst, the confessional “hear me now” lyrics, the raw and unpolished delivery hit a fever pitch again, she’s become a kind of musical fairy godmother for a new generation.

Much like Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” has been stirred into a Broadway musical, or Liz Phair is playing Gen X festivals and starring in Evereve campaigns or a Kate Bush renaissance is driven by the placement of her uber hit “Running Up That Hill” in “Stranger Things,” Hawkins has had her own comeback of sorts in recent years.

“Maybe not at that level,” Hawkins jokes. Yet she, too, has found a new audience as “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” and “As I Lay Me Down” (the record breaker for the longest-running single in Billboard Adult Contemporary chart history that hails from her 1994 album “Whaler”) are also finding spot treatments in shows like “Euphoria,” “Ozark” and even “Stranger Things.”

“I think younger people are really happy to pick up the writing, the style of the ’90s. … The sound represents that time of incredible gutsy kickass women,” says Hawkins, who was discovered while working as a coat check girl in a Manhattan restaurant. Though she concedes, “Even before that era, there’s always been great women, but we’re not always recognized. … I think the thing is we, all of us women, keep working and working and working and then there’s openings in humanity that give us space, that we can sift through if we are lucky.”

Hawkins is heeding that call. In October, she released a new, positive, pop single, “Love Yourself,” about the messages we tell ourselves and reframing them to show more inward compassion. The song is more or less geared toward women as a PSA to turn off the self-loathing. Curiously the music video was shot outside of an old brothel in Colorado and done by Nigel Dick, who directed Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time.”,.

“It gets better is what I want to say to women,” says Hawkins. “Don’t even worry about a facelift. You won’t care. We are all going to get to a point where we think, ‘Why did I spend so much time worrying about it? Now I’m just old and beautiful.’ ”

The song will be on Hawkins’ new album, slated for next year. When it comes to the other new material, Hawkins says her activism and commitment to causes she holds dear (the environment, animal rights and LGBTQ equality) are dominating her attention.

“I’ve been really taken with this movement, mostly coming out of London, this compassion movement — compassion in politics, compassion in religion, in basically all thought,” says Hawkins, referencing leaders like Jennifer Nadel (who wrote the book “We” with actor Gillian Anderson). “It’s all about compassion toward each other and connecting with our roots as human beings … we have to get that back if we want to survive this dog-eat-dog world.”

Hawkins is using her social media lately to share the books and essays that have moved her in the hopes they might reach other people.

She’s also working on a musical that’s “very informed by growing up in Manhattan and by my experiences in life but it’s a very intimate family drama,” she divulges.

And a book of her own may be forthcoming, too.

“It’s beautiful to be growing into my third act in which I can appreciate my life,” says Hawkins. “We don’t have much time, you know? I’m entering that last part of my life and it’s incredible to be able to say ‘My god I’m so grateful I did all this.’ ”

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