Sheryl Crow was a carefree, guitar-toting vocalist who cemented herself as a certified hottie with her debut, Tuesday Night Music Club. She doesn't come from the crop of female sexpots we have to work with these days. She doesn't stumble out of nightclubs at 2 a.m. or flash her panties for the next money hungry paparazzo to snap and sell to any tabloid willing to pay up. (Well, there was that one time at this year's CMT Music Awards ... but she took it in stride as a true accident.) She was popular before being a female singer/songwriter was considered cool. Perhaps one of the most commercially-successful female artists across the board in the last couple decades, Crow is still aboard the success train seven studio albums in, her latest being the country-infused 100 Miles From Memphis.
Before Crow takes a pit stop at Michigan International Speedway for the inaugural MI Fest, she took time out of her way too hectic schedule to chat with us about mommyhood, kids these days and philanthropy.
Why did you say "yes" to performing MI Fest?
I think it's going to be a blast. I love The Raconteurs and I love Ronnie Dunn, I'm really glad to hear he's on the bill. I think it's gonna go over great and I think it will be easy to establish that as a yearly event and I think it's gonna be really fun to be a part of the first one.
We've seen many sides of you over the years; from a cool folk chick to a sunkissed beach babe to a more country version like what we had seen on 100 Miles From Memphis. Who is Sheryl now?
Well, I would say that first and foremost I'm a mom – that informs everything else that I do. I'm pretty productive when it comes to writing and to my music touring. I'm involved in a lot of different causes I care deeply about, first and foremost the environment, and cancer and education. I don't know, I feel like I'm a pretty well-rounded person.
Has adopting two children changed your life?
Oh yea totally. For one thing, the hours. Getting up at 6 a.m. after having played 'til 11, ya know, I don't get quite as much sleep but it's been great, it's been a great summer. We've gone to every water park, every zoo, every kid museum; we've seen Mount Rushmore; we've held snakes at the reptile garden. We've done everything you could do as a kid. We've been to amusement parks. It's been quite the Griswold summer.
I recently read something calling you a "yummy mummy." Does taking care of yourself get harder when you're on the road? What do you do to stay fit?
It is hard on the road. It's mainly hard because I have my kids and morning is the best time to work out but for me, but morning is my kid time. That's when we get up and we get going to museums or whatever the activity it. It's been harder for me to be consistent.
You've done something very few emerging artists get to do these days, and that's finish college and have a normal life before you became a super star. How important were those years in shaping who you are as a musician and do you think young performers these days are missing out?
Yea, I think my story is a little bit different. In the history of rock n' roll, generally, they say that rock n' roll is for the young. I can remember the Rolling Stones saying they would definitely not play rock n' roll after 30, they'd be way too old. It is kinda historically always been for the 18, 20, 25-year-olds and I didn't actually get my deal 'til I was 28. I taught school. I think it depends on what your life's dream is. It's difficult to get what that is if you're still trying to figure out who you are. For me, it was definitely advantageous to come out to LA after I had some time to, in my own mind, establish who I was as a person and it helped me to not get caught up in the whole fame trip. It's different now. I think kids grow up wanting to be famous, they grow up wanting to be celebrities. The art of the work kinda takes a backseat to that, it's more about being famous. So ya know, it's moving to a different time.
You've always been involved with charitable organizations and benefits before it seemed like the cool thing to do in Hollywood. What's the importance of giving back to those in need from your perspective?
I feel like it's just good for the spirit for all of us to give back. I think it's part of the cycle of living to leave the campground better than you found it – which is what my parents always raised me to believe. It only makes me feel better about my life and about my success if I can give back. I'm involved with a lot of environmental causes, particularly the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). I'm also involved in numerous breast cancer charities and charities at large. I'm involved in raising money for the education in my hometown, as well as the children's home there. Things along the way – like I [auctioned] off my car to help raise funding for building schools in Joplin, Missouri, which was an area devastated by tornadoes. I think you get involved in things that are meaningful and you have a relationship with in your life and those opportunities kinda present themselves.
Are you currently working on a new album?
Well this tour basically ends I think – I get there September 17 – and after that I'm gonna start thinking about it.
Do you get must writing done on the road or are you more productive at home?
I'm more productive when I'm at home when I can get some quiet. Its definitely more challenging when you have kids on the road and having a few minutes to be inspired is not terribly realistic. | RDW
Sheryl Crow at MI Fest • 9/17, Gates at noon• Michigan International Speedway (MIS) • 12626 U.S. Highway 12, Brooklyn, MI • mi-fest.com • $79, GA; $109, VIP