In addition to her own work, Crow has performed with the Rolling Stones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Stevie Nicks, Michael Jackson, Steve Earle, Prince, Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, B.B. King, George Strait, Tony Bennett, Kid Rock and Sting, among others. She has also performed backing vocals for Tina Turner, Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Belinda Carlisle, Bob Dylan and Joe Cocker.
As an actress, Crow has appeared on various television shows including 30 Rock, Cop Rock, GCB, Cougar Town, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, as well as One Tree Hill.
Sheryl Suzanne Crow was born in Kennett, Missouri, the daughter of Bernice (née Cain), a piano teacher, and Wendell Wyatt Crow, a lawyer and trumpet player. Her great-grandfather was congressman Charles A. Crow (1873–1938). She has two older sisters named Kathy and Karen and a younger brother named Steven.
While studying at Kennett High School, Crow was a majorette and an all-state track athlete, medaling in the 75-meter low hurdles. She also joined the ‘pep club’, the National Honor Society, and the National FFA Organization, and was crowned Paperdoll Queen in a celebrity-judged beauty contest[ during her senior year. She then enrolled at the University of Missouri in Columbia and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music composition, performance, and education. While at the university, she sang in the local band Cashmere. She was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity for Women, and the Omicron Delta Kappa Society as well as working as a ‘Summer Welcome’ orientation leader. Crow was later awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Missouri and Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Crow has stated that her musical inspirations are not restricted to one genre—she likes anything with a drum beat. In 2008, she told Ellen DeGeneres that “If it didn’t have a drum beat, you can just forget about it!”
1985–92: Early years
After graduating from the University of Missouri, Crow worked as a music teacher at the Kellison elementary school in Fenton, Missouri.Teaching during the day gave her the opportunity to sing in bands on the weekends. She was later introduced to local musician and record producer Jay Oliver. He had a thriving[ studio in the basement of his parents’ home in St. Louis and helped her by using her in advertising jingles. Her first jingle was a ‘back to school’ spot for the St Louis department store Famous-Barr. Soon after she created commercial jingles for McDonald’s and Toyota. She was quoted in a 60 Minutes segment as saying she made $40,000 on her McDonald’s ad alone.
Crow toured with Michael Jackson as a backing vocalist during his Bad World Tour 1987–89 and often performed with Jackson on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”.[ She also recorded background vocals for performances for a number of established artists such as Stevie Wonder, Belinda Carlisle and Don Henley.
Crow also sang in the short-lived Steven Bochco drama Cop Rock in 1990. That same year, her song “Heal Somebody” appeared in the film Bright Angel. The following year, she performed “Hundreds of Tears”, which was included in the Point Break soundtrack, and sang a duet with Kenny Loggins on the track “I Would Do Anything”, from his album Leap of Faith.
1992: Scrapped debut album
In 1992, Crow recorded her first attempt at a debut album with Phil Collins’ record producer Hugh Padgham. The self-titled debut album was due to be released on September 22, 1992, but Crow and her label mutually decided that the album did not merit release. Crow described it as “too produced”. However, a handful of cassette copies of the album were leaked, along with press folders for album publicity. This album has been widely dispersed via file sharing networks and fan trading. In the meantime, Crow’s songs were recorded by major artists such as Celine Dion, Tina Turner and Wynonna Judd.
1993–97: International success
She then began dating Kevin Gilbert and joined him in an ad hoc group of musicians known to themselves as the “Tuesday Music Club.” Group members Gilbert, David Baerwald, and David Ricketts (both formerly of David & David), Bill Bottrell, Brian MacLeod, and Dan Schwartz share songwriting credits with Crow on her debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club.
The group existed as a casual songwriting collective prior to its association with Crow but rapidly developed into a vehicle for her debut album after her arrival. Her relationship with Gilbert became acrimonious soon after the album was released, and disputes arose about songwriting credits.[
Crow appeared in the “New Faces” section of Rolling Stone in 1993. Tuesday Night Music Club featured many of the songs written by Crow’s friends, including the second single, “Leaving Las Vegas”. The album was slow to garner attention, until “All I Wanna Do” became an unexpected smash hit in the fall of 1994. As she later stated in People, she found an old poetry book in a used book store in the L.A. area and used a poem as lyrics in the song. The singles “Strong Enough” and “Can’t Cry Anymore” were also released, with the first song (“Strong Enough”) charting at No. 5 on Billboard and “Can’t Cry Anymore” hitting the Top 40. Tuesday Night Music Club went on to sell more than 7 million copies in the U.S. and U.K. during the 1990s. The album also won Crow three Grammy Awards, in 1995: Record of the Year, Best New Artist and Best Female Vocal Performance. She performed at the 1994 and 1999 Woodstock Festivals, as well as the Another Roadside Attraction in 1997.
Crow supplied background vocals to the song “The Garden of Allah” from Don Henley’s 1995 album Actual Miles: Henley’s Greatest Hits.
In 1996, Crow released her self-titled second album. The album had songs about abortion, homelessness and nuclear war. She produced the album herself and also played a variety of instruments, from various guitars, bass or pedal steel to various organs and piano. The debut single, “If It Makes You Happy”, became a radio success and netted her two Grammy awards for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Album. Other singles included “A Change Would Do You Good”, “Home”, and “Everyday Is a Winding Road”. The album was banned from sale at Wal-Mart, because in the lyrics to “Love Is a Good Thing” Crow says that Wal-Mart sells guns to children.] The album also features a protest song called “Redemption Day”, which was covered by Johnny Cash on his last album American VI: Ain’t No Grave. In 1997, Crow contributed the theme song to the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies. Her song “Tomorrow Never Dies” was nominated for a Grammy Award and Best Original Song Golden Globe.Crow collaborated on Scott Weiland’s 1998 album, 12 Bar Blues.
1998–99: The Globe Sessions and live album
In 1998, Crow released The Globe Sessions. During this period, she discussed in interviews having gone through a deep depression, and there was speculation about a brief affair with Eric Clapton. The debut single from this album, “My Favorite Mistake,” was rumored to be about Clapton, but Crow says otherwise—that the song is about a philandering ex-boyfriend. Crow has refused to say who the song was about, telling Billboard Magazine on the release of her album, “Oh, there will be just so much speculation, and because of that there’s great safety and protection in the fact that people will be guessing so many different people and I’m the only person who will ever really know. I’m really private about who I’ve had relationships with, and I don’t talk about them in the press. I don’t even really talk about them with the people around me.” Despite the difficulties in recording the album, Crow told the BBC in 2005 that, “My favorite single is ‘My Favorite Mistake.’ It was a lot of fun to record and it’s still a lot of fun to play.”The album won Best Rock Album at the 1999 Grammy Awards. It was re-released in 1999, with a bonus track, Crow’s cover of the Guns N’ Roses song “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” which was included on the soundtrack of the film Big Daddy. The song won the 1999 Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Other singles included “There Goes the Neighborhood,” “Anything but Down,” and “The Difficult Kind.” Crow won the 2001 Grammy best female rock vocal performance for There Goes the Neighborhood.The Globe Sessions peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart, achieving US sales of 2 million as of January 2008
Later in 1998, Crow took part in a live concert in tribute to Burt Bacharach, contributing vocals on “One Less Bell to Answer.”
In 1999, Crow also made her acting debut as an ill-fated drifter in the suspense/drama The Minus Man, which starred her then-boyfriend Owen Wilson as a serial killer.
Also in 1999, she appeared in Prince’s album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, singing backing vocals in the song “Baby Knows”. Prince included a cover of her “Everyday Is a Winding Road” in the album.
She also released a live album called Sheryl Crow and Friends: Live From Central Park. The record featured Crow singing many of her hit singles with new musical spins and guest appearances by many other musicians including Sarah McLachlan, Stevie Nicks, the Dixie Chicks, Keith Richards, and Eric Clapton. It included “There Goes the Neighborhood”, which won the Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
2002–04: C’mon, C’mon and The Very Best of
Crow had been involved with the Scleroderma Research Foundation (SRF) since the late 1990s, performing at fund-raisers and befriending Sharon Monsky. In 2002, as a result of her friend Kent Sexton dying from scleroderma, she interrupted work on her new album C’mon C’mon to record the traditional hymn “Be Still, My Soul”, to be played at his funeral. In November of that year it was released as a single, with the proceeds going to SRF.
Her fourth studio album, C’mon, C’mon, was released in 2002, spawning the hit single “Soak Up the Sun”. The second single, “Steve McQueen”, won the Female Rock Vocal Performance Grammy.
Crow opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, wearing a shirt that read “I don’t believe in your war, Mr. Bush!” during a performance on Good Morning America and posting an open letter explaining her opposition on her website. At a performance with Kid Rock at the 45th annual Grammy Awards, she wore a large peace sign and a guitar strap with the words “No War.” She showed support for injured soldiers in 2003 by playing her guitar and singing to individual patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
She recorded the song “Kiss That Girl” for the film Bridget Jones’s Diary. She also recorded a cover version of the Beatles’ song “Mother Nature’s Son” for the film I Am Sam. Crow sang a duet with rock artist Kid Rock on the crossover hit single “Picture”, from Kid Rock’s 2001 album Cocky. She also assisted him on the track “Run Off to L.A.”.
Crow collaborated with Michelle Branch on the song “Love Me Like That” for Branch’s second album, Hotel Paper, released in 2003.
She was featured on the Johnny Cash album American III: Solitary Man in the song “Field of Diamonds” as a background vocalist, and also played the accordion for the songs “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Mary of the Wild Moor”.
In 2003, a greatest hits compilation called The Very Best of Sheryl Crow was released. It featured many of her hit singles, as well as some new tracks. Among them was the 1960s pop song, “The First Cut is the Deepest” by Cat Stevens, which became her biggest radio hit since “All I Wanna Do”. She also released the single “Light In Your Eyes,” which received limited airplay. “The First Cut is the Deepest” earned her two American Music Awards for Best Pop/Rock Artist and Adult Contemporary Artist of the Year, respectively.
In 2004, Crow appeared as a musical theater performer in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely.
Her fifth studio album, Wildflower, was released in September 2005. Although the album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, it received mixed reviews and was not as commercially successful as her previous albums. In December 2005, the album was nominated for a Best Pop Vocal Album Grammy, while Crow was nominated for a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy for the first single Good Is Good. However, she ultimately lost in both categories to Kelly Clarkson. The album got a new boost in 2006 when the second single was announced as Always on Your Side, re-recorded with British musician Sting and sent off to radio, where it was quickly embraced at Adult Top 40. The collaboration with Sting resulted in a Grammy-nomination for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals. As of January 2008, Wildflower has sold 949,000 units in the United States.
In 2006, Crow contributed “Real Gone”, the opening track to the soundtrack for Disney and Pixar’s 2006 animated film Cars. Crow was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in mid-February 2006, her doctors stating that, “Prognosis for a full recovery is excellent.”
Crow’s first concert after her cancer diagnosis was on May 18 of that year in Orlando, Florida, where she played to over 10,000 information technology professionals at the SAP Sapphire Convention. Her first public appearance was on June 12, when she performed at the Murat Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana. She also appeared on Larry King Live on CNN on August 23, 2006. In this show, she talked about her comeback, her breakup with Lance Armstrong, her past job as Michael Jackson’s backup singer, and her experience as a breast cancer survivor.
In late 2006, Crow was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the song Try Not To Remember (Best Original Song category) from the film Home of the Brave.
In early 2007, Crow was scheduled to sing at an annual benefit concert for The Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital that sportscaster Bob Costas hosts every year. Her performance was opposed by Raymond Burke then a Catholic Archbishop due to her position on abortion. Burke resigned when Crow’s appearance was confirmed
Crow wrote a foreword for the book Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips, a book written by Kris Carr that was based on her 2007 documentary film Crazy Sexy Cancer. Crow contributed her cover of the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun on the soundtrack for the Dreamworks animated film Bee Movie in November 2007. She contributed background vocals to Ryan Adams’s song “Two” from the album Easy Tiger.