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Colvin was born in Vermillion, South Dakota. Her formative years were spent in the town of Carbondale, Illinois, where she attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She learned to play guitar at the age of 10. Her first public concert was at age 15 at the University of Illinois campus. Colvin cites Joni Mitchell as a primary influence on her music, and her initial performances reflected that.
Colvin began working in the music scene in earnest in the late 1970s, first in Austin, Texas and then nationally. She moved to New York City in 1980, where she became involved with the Fast Folk cooperative in Greenwich Village.
She met music partner John Leventhal during this time; Leventhal became Colvin’s producer on several albums. Colvin often lends her talent to contemporaries in the music business; she can be heard singing the backing vocals on the Suzanne Vega hit, “Luka”. Vega returned the favor, singing backup on Colvin’s “Diamond In The Rough”, from her debut album, Steady On. Early in their careers, Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter formed a friendship that led to their frequently guesting on one-another’s recordings: Colvin lent her vocals to Carpenter’s 1992 recordings “The Hard Way” and “Come On Come On”, and Mary Chapin returned the favor on Colvin’s “Climb On a Back That’s Strong”, from Colvin’s Fat City album. She also contributed in the studio and onstage to several Bruce Hornsby songs.
Born January 10, 1956 (1956-01-10) (age 55)
Vermillion, South Dakota,
Origin Carbondale, Illinois,
Genres Rock, contemporary folk
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1970s–present
Labels Columbia (1989-2004)