sheryl crow - “america is stressful”

From sexism in the music industry to living in an ageist society, the musical icon offers her notes on being a woman

by Hanna Hanra
29 March 2018, 10:30am

Image via YouTube

Sheryl Suzanne Crow is a woman who needs no introduction. But, if it makes you happy ;) we’ll rustle one up for you anyway. Born in Kennett, Missouri, Sheryl spent her formative years studying art, running track, and playing with bands on the weekend. It wasn’t long before she became a bit of a local celebrity, performing at gigs and singing jingles for McDonald's commercials. Then in 1987, she got her big break as a backing vocalist for Michael Jackson during his Bad World Tour. Working as a solo artist nothing came to fruition, despite numerous album attempts, and Sheryl spent the next decade writing songs for major singers like Tina Turner and Celine Dion. Fast-forward to 1996 and the arrival of Sheryl Crow the album. Touching on issues including homelessness, gun control, nuclear war and abortion, it caused a bit of a stir -- so much so that Wal-Mart refused to sell it. On the radio, it was an instant success, with her first single If It Makes You Happy going on to win her two Grammys. Seven albums, two sons, many film and TV appearances, a woman of the year award and a duet with William Shatner later, she announced that she’d be back on the road for a world tour in 2018.

The best thing about being a woman is there is a built-in strength and protective attitude that comes along it.

The hardest thing about being a woman is unequal pay. What is frustrating to me is that for so many years we've seen women doing the same jobs as men, in the same positions and not being compensated the same. In my own industry, I find that women, especially in country radio, don't get played nearly as much as men get played. They also aren’t as acknowledged at our award shows -- like the Grammy’s this year -- only one woman won a main award.

I would call myself an outdoorsy person. I try to keep my boys (who are ten and seven) outside all the time and out in nature as much as possible. It's very calming. The environment here in America is very stressful, particularly for our kids, and just keeping them outside amongst nature is really the most calming; I think it's the most calming medicine there is.

When I was younger I had the totally wrong idea about using your beauty to enhance your artistry. I thought people wouldn't take me seriously. I did my first couple of records and I'd think, you know, this is perfect. I didn't wear a stitch of make-up, I wouldn’t let anyone ever dress me. I felt like it was so counter to being taking seriously. And obviously that's changed.

The most unexpected thing I’ve found about being a woman is where we are right now particularly in the states, with women finally being allowed to raise their voices and demand equality. It takes a lot of bravery.

The women I admire most are the women who have come out recently about sexual harassment. For so many decades, these women have not been believed and been vilified for speaking out against a powerful man. I admire all the women who have done that publicly and who have demanded that their voices be heard. There's so many, it'd be difficult to choose one, but there are lots of stories of empowerment. And I'm happy to see these going forward.

I feel like a grown-up most when cooking dinner, doing the laundry. I always kind of operated at my own schedule. You know, feeding one person was kind of a no-brainer. I'd just kind of eat on the go. And then once you have kids then you're kind of setting up the house, and a household, and a schedule. it does make you feel a little bit more like an adult, for better or for worse.

There's nothing easy about getting old, with the exception of perhaps having a broader view and the realisation that everything is isn't quite as black and white. I think getting old is hard for everyone. You know, you're facing your mortality. Particularly being a woman and aging; we live in such an ageist society, particularly the music business. I mean, you couldn't hope to get played on the radio at my age. Part of getting older is the challenge of acceptance, and I think with acceptance and with hopefully abandoning attachment to the physical is where you find the key.

I’m happiest when I’m with my boys. We just got back from spring break, which we spent on the coast of Florida. Just being with the boys out in the ocean, riding the ways, with no technology. That is what we call our happy place.

Love is fighting tooth and nail for the ones that you care about.

Abondance Matanda asks: What’s the difference between being a woman and a girl? I think you can't take the girl out of the woman, which is something kind of wonderful. You can tap into the playfulness and the innocence of being a girl without the cynicism. There's something really wonderful about that. But I think there's a love of wisdom with getting older and accepting the changes that go on in your face and in your body. And allowing that wisdom and hopefully there's serenity that you've accrued by the time you're, you know, a certain age.

My question for the next woman doing this column would be: what do you love about yourself?

Sheryl Crow
notes on being a woman