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Diamond in the Rough: A Memoir

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Overview

After learning to play guitar at the age of ten, Shawn Colvin was determined to make a life in music. Diamond in the Rough recounts this passionate musician's coming-of-age, from the prairies of South Dakota to dark smoky bars in Austin, Texas, to the world stage at the Grammys. With the wit, lyricism, and empathy that have characterized Colvin's performances and inspired audiences worldwide, Diamond in the Rough looks back over a rich lifetime of highs and lows with stunning insight and candor. In its pages, we ...

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Diamond in the Rough: A Memoir

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Overview

After learning to play guitar at the age of ten, Shawn Colvin was determined to make a life in music. Diamond in the Rough recounts this passionate musician's coming-of-age, from the prairies of South Dakota to dark smoky bars in Austin, Texas, to the world stage at the Grammys. With the wit, lyricism, and empathy that have characterized Colvin's performances and inspired audiences worldwide, Diamond in the Rough looks back over a rich lifetime of highs and lows with stunning insight and candor. In its pages, we witness the inspiring story of a woman honing her artistry, finding her voice, and making herself whole.

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Editorial Reviews

People Magazine
"Colvin’s fans will devour her behind-the-scenes stories; single mothers will relate to her struggle to do right by her child. And those who have suffered depression — or loved someone who has — will find much to inspire in this compelling redemption story."
The Independenton Sunday
"Dspite the many personal disasters that have beset Colvin, DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH is no misery-fest. It’s with an impressive absence of self-pity and a dry, unassuming style that she teases humour out of the most unpalatable episodes . . . Absorbing."
USA Today
“[Colvin is] a gifted conversational writer with a wicked and unabashedly goofy sense of humor ... Her buoyant spirit fairly leaps off the stage, and her self-deprecating wit is as keen and quirky in recalling her brief brush with superstardom as it is applied to an ill-fated relationship.”
People
“Colvin’s fans will devour her behind-the-scenes stories; single mothers will relate to her struggle to do right by her child. And those who have suffered depression -- or loved someone who has -- will find much to inspire in this compelling redemption story.”
The Independent on Sunday
“Dspite the many personal disasters that have beset Colvin, DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH is no misery-fest. It’s with an impressive absence of self-pity and a dry, unassuming style that she teases humour out of the most unpalatable episodes . . . Absorbing.”
Booklist
“Engaging . . . .The many admirers of Colvin’s music will appreciate this honest memoir.”
People
“Colvin’s fans will devour her behind-the-scenes stories; single mothers will relate to her struggle to do right by her child. And those who have suffered depression — or loved someone who has — will find much to inspire in this compelling redemption story.”
Publishers Weekly
Named for the breakthrough hit on her first Grammy Award–winning album of 1989 (Steady On) this charming, modest memoir tracks songwriter Colvin’s roots solidly in the Midwest and the determination to pursue the folksy, acoustic-guitar style that suited her. Born on the South Dakota prairie in 1956, she grew up singing in the church, moving around from Vermillion, S.D., to Carbondale, Ill., as her father pursued graduate studies in psychology and her mother eventually got a law degree. Seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show galvanized her small world, and while prone to panic attacks and dread of school, she found that learning to play guitar, singing and songwriting, and sewing her own clothes were the only ways to motivate her. The 1970s blew in, and with it the magical folk songwriting of Judy Collins, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell, among others; once graduated from high school, Colvin fronted bands from Austin, Tex., to New York City, and was nearly derailed by drinking until she went sober in 1983. By sticking with the community of folk writers and singers, such as those congregating at Cambridge, Mass.’s Passim coffeehouse, she toured as a backup singer for Suzanne Vega, whose managers introduced Colvin’s original songs to Columbia Records—and she was signed. Colvin chronicles an impressive array of accompanists and backup, two husbands, and myriad awards such as her gold record with the 1997 hit “Sunny Came Home,” all the while maintaining a low-key, sweet humility that is truly endearing. Agent: David Vigliano. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
A chatty, but only occasionally enlightening, life story from the confessional singer-songwriter. Three-time Grammy winner Colvin's life has long been a source for her songs, but it wears thin in her memoir. She's frank about the many ups and downs of her personal life and career, where the slow climb to commercial and critical success meant overcoming a series of personal disasters: alcoholism, anorexia, clinical depression, panic disorder and numerous broken romances. In perspective, it's an inspiring story, as Colvin spent years of paying dues and saw her first album, Steady On, win a Grammy. She has overcome a lot, and is apparently content with her life as a respected singer and devoted mother. Unfortunately, the book too often bogs down into the territory of many numbing addiction chronicles, padded with daily affirmations, mad shopping binges and the usual dreary details of life on the road. At times, the book feels like a therapeutic chore. For patient readers and close listeners of her music, there is some payoff when Colvin discusses her songs and the writing process: how "Diamond in the Rough" put her in the odd position of co-writing "a song with someone about breaking up with that someone" or how "if you can get one good line or verse right at the beginning, the song will be set up well for you." Also: "the act of performing a new song in front of people is the ultimate bullshit detector." Ultimately, there's too much "Of Meds and Men" and too little of the music that made Colvin popular.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061759291
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/30/2013
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 628,617
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Shawn Colvin

Shawn Colvin is a singer-songwriter and musician. She began performing in bands in the late 1970s, and after years of polishing her skills in Austin, Texas, and the New York folk scene, Colvin released her debut album Steady On in 1989, earning a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Her breakthrough success was the album A Few Small Repairs in 1996, featuring the song "Sunny Came Home," a top-ten hit that won Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Colvin has released ten albums, won three Grammy Awards, and been nominated for seven others.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2013

    I loved this book; frank and honest about her loves, her addicti

    I loved this book; frank and honest about her loves, her addictions and depression.  I especially liked how she gave the background and processes of many of her songs.I did not find, like others commented, that she went on and on about her past loves..no name dropping or scandal, just an honest telling of the story of a very talented and quirky singer/songwriter.

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  • Posted July 21, 2012

    This book sent my daughter and I on a trip down memory lane. We

    This book sent my daughter and I on a trip down memory lane. We lived in Carbondale at the same time as Shawn and she and my four children attended school with Shawn at Lincoln Jr. High and Carbondale Community High. We readily recognized the "meanest" teacher and the "man who roamed the halls wacking a paddle". He viciously used that paddle on our son leaving bruising on his behind and scars on his soul. I was attending SIU at that time, majoring in Psychology as was her father. Her experiences at both schools mirror the experiences of my children and I feel a great connectedness with her parents. So glad that she fulfilled her dream. Our son, Robin, also dreamed of becoming a great artist. This book gives me comfort as Robin died before fulfilling his dream. I highly recommend this book to anyone who grew up in the l960's 1970's and to parents of those children.

    inkyMM

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    I too have loved Shawn Colvin from the first time I heard 'Stead

    I too have loved Shawn Colvin from the first time I heard 'Steady On'. I really loved this book. The insights into the genesis of all the lyrics and music that I've know by heart for years now was interesting reading. I loved the subtle humor that she uses to belie some of the experiences and situations she has gone through. Much of the book just feels right, like a conversation between Shawn and the reader. That said, I'm not sure I would recommend this book to anyone who is not already a Shawn lover. So many of her lyrics and songs were swirling through my head as I read. I'm not sure that someone without many years of listening to her music would get as much out of reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2012

    Excellent Book!

    I have loved Shawn Colvin every since her first album. This is a very well written book and hard to put down once you start. Shawn has a way of writing that really makes you understand what she has been through without looking for sympathy, but giving insight and helping others understand what depression can do and how you can learn to control it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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