Joan Osborne Returns to Tarrytown Music Hall with ‘Nobody Owns You’ 

Joan Osborne. Photo credit: Laura Crosta

Three decades after her debut album, Relish, Joan Osborne returns to the Tarrytown Music Hall with a new record she calls her most personal. 

Osborne, who’ll be appearing with the Crash Test Dummies on Saturday, May 4, recently released the 12-song Nobody Owns You, on her own label, Womanly Hips Records. The album was recorded in Brooklyn, where she lives. 

The multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated artist spoke with River Journal for this Q&A, which has been condensed for brevity: 

RJ: The title track on Nobody Owns You carries a strong message about independence. Who did you have in mind when you wrote it? 

Joan Osborne: It came out of a year that was really challenging and difficult for me. My teenage daughter was growing up and getting ready to leave home and really wanting to establish her own independence and identity and really pulling away from me. That was very painful for me, and I felt that I had so much that I wanted to tell her as she’s standing on the cusp of adulthood, getting ready to leave home and yet, where she’s at, she doesn’t want to hear any of that from me. She’s very much rejecting anything that I would say to her. 

So, I felt like my one recourse was to put this message in a song and maybe at some point she’ll listen to it, and until then, that message is there for anyone who might need it. It is very much about just trying to understand that you are complete within yourself.  

RJ: You’ve performed often at the Music Hall, including shows with Mavis Staples and Trigger Hippy. Why have you called Tarrytown one of your favorite venues? 

Joan Osborne’s latest studio album is titled, Nobody Owns You.

Osborne: The band and I really appreciate the wonderful acoustics in the hall. A lot of places have been repurposed to become music spaces and they weren’t necessarily designed to be music spaces. But the Music Hall, that’s what they built it for, and you can really feel that when you’re on the stage. You can feel the room is very warm and you’re reaching everyone. 

I also appreciate that it’s got such a long history. I like that feeling of standing on the stage and standing on those boards and feeling like I’m part of this continuum of artists who have been there stretching back all those decades.  

RJ: For this show, you’re performing as a trio, with guitarist Jack Petruzzelli and Will Bryant on keyboards. How does that shape your sound, and what can fans expect at the upcoming show? 

Osborne: I find that not having a full drum kit behind me, there’s more space for what I do as a singer. I love having a full band with a drummer and bass, especially for an outdoor show. But for a space like Tarrytown, in such a warm, enveloping room, it’s nice as a vocalist to have all of that space to let what we’re doing as a trio really expand and fill the room. 

We’re emphasizing a lot of new material in this show, so if people have come to see us before, we’re going to be playing a lot of songs they haven’t heard. It’s a little nerve-wracking when you bring out new material because you don’t know if people are going to accept it or not, but people have been so engaged with it and that’s been very satisfying. But of course, we do play a lot of the fan favorites that we bring to every show. 

RJ: Your career has included performing with so many different artists, including Pavarotti, Patti Smith, the Funk Brothers and the Grateful Dead. How are you able to cross genres so smoothly?  

Osborne: I don’t really look at music as being only specific to certain genres. I think it’s a continuum. I think the genres have solidified because of commercial reasons, for wanting to sell records to a certain audience, but for musicians it’s a lot more fluid than that. So, I don’t necessarily look at singing a song with Pavarotti or singing a song with the Grateful Dead as being all that different. You bring your own voice and what it can do to each project and then you just try to have your voice serve the song in whatever musical situation you’re in.  

That being said, I think a lot of things I have done have been within the broader American roots tradition, and I feel like that really covers a lot of territory,  

When I was like 11, 12, 13 years old, I sang in a choir and we sang a lot of old English madrigal Christmas music, and so I drew on a lot of that experience in the Pavarotti situation. You’re standing next to someone with this massive voice, and I felt like there’s nothing I can do that can match what he’s got vocally, so I’m going to take the opposite tack, and I’m going to do something that’s more quiet and see if that works.

Joan Osborne and Crash Test Dummies
8 p.m., Saturday, May 4
Tarrytown Music Hall, 13 Main St., Tarrytown  



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