Grammy-nominated multi-platinum artist Joan Osborne graces the Sunset Plaza stage Friday night, with a 5 p.m.-start time. Part of the Telluride Festival of the Arts, the blues-rock singer/songwriter will display her unequivocal talent, and may even venture into her pop side to ask Telluriders, “What if God were one of us?”
Osborne arrived on the New York City music scene in the late 1980s, forming her own recording label, called Womanly Hips, and performing the blues-bar circuit. Early reviews compared her to Bonnie Raitt, praising her forthrightness, vocal dynamics and easygoing stage presence. A 1989 New York Times article, written by Jon Pareles, said Osborne made her phrases “shimmy over the beat,” but questioned the singer's future.
“Whether she can be more than a feisty, good-timey blues-bar entertainer is an open question, but her voice holds considerable promise,” Pareles wrote.
Osborne gave her clear answer in 1995 with the release of her second album, Relish. The CD featured hits like “Right Hand Man” and “St. Theresa,” but the real fame came from its now-iconic “One of Us.” The song received three Grammy nominations and reached a number four position on Billboard's Top 100 list. Ironically, it was not Osborne, but Eric Bazilian of The Hooters, who wrote the song, but the singer has said she does not regret that she was not the one to pen her fame-winning track.
“If I could have written that song, then I would have,” Osborne said in a 2000 interview with Rolling Stone. “But I didn't, so there you go. And the songs that I wrote probably got more of a chance to reach different people and a longer life because of that song, so I'm not mad at it.”
Since Relish, Osborne has released five more albums, though none have been nearly as well-known. Her latest work, Little Wild One, issued in September of last year, was generally well received. Osborne also gained popularity touring with the Funk Brothers, a Motown house band, and the Dead, the rock band formed from former members of the Grateful Dead. Plus Osborne garnered a dedicated Telluride following after performing at last year's Blues and Brews festival.
Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association Communications Director Leanne Hart says she is excited about including another musician in this year's Festival of the Arts. After Taj Mahal performed last year as part of TFA – bringing an audience of almost 5,000 to Sunset Plaza – festival officials decided to add a music aspect to a festival that had been devoted to the visual and culinary arts.
Hart adds that Osborne has proven to be a popular choice, if calls regarding the concert from all over Colorado, and from New Mexico and Arkansas as well, are any indication.
“We anticipate a high-impact concert,” says Hart. “I think Joan Osborne has such an eclectic sound that she will bring a great diversity of attendees.”
The free concert is from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday night at the Sunset Plaza in Mountain Village. For more information, contact 970/369-7623.