American singer-songwriter and musician Sheryl Suzanne Crow, who started as Michael Jackson's backup dancer to later become a nine Grammy Awards winner, is also known to be a liberal political activist. The 2000s not only shows a period of expanding career, but she had to fight against breast cancer and deal with her breakup with Lance Armstrong in 2006, after the couple had announced their engagement in September 2005.
Born on February 11, 1962 to musical parents Wendell- a trumpet player and lawyer and Bernice, a piano teacher, she began piano lessons at the age of five along with her two sisters. Crow wrote her first song when she was just 13 and eventually decided to study music at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
While in college, Crow joined and sang in a local band called Cashmere. After graduating, she started teaching music to autistic children at a local elementary school during the day. That job didn’t stop her from performing at night by singing in another cover band, P.M., and also recording local advertising jingles.
In 1986, Crow decided to pursue a full-time career as a singer and songwriter. After a successful audition as a backing singer for Michael Jackson she had a place on his international Bad tour from 1987-1989. In 1992, Crow recorded her first attempt at her debut album with Phil Collins' producer Hugh Padgham. The self-titled debut album was slated to be released on September 22 that year, but was ultimately rejected by her label.
She then began dating Kevin Gilbert and joined him in an ad hoc group of musicians known to everyone in the group as the "Tuesday Music Club” because they held jam sessions at local clubs on Tuesday nights. During these sessions, the group developed several songs that made it onto Crow's proper debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club, which was released in 1993. Her relationship with Gilbert became acrimonious soon after the album was released, and disputes arose about songwriting credits, and not long after that O’Brien committed suicide. In 1996, Crow’s ex boyfriend Gilbert was also found dead from autoerotic asphyxiation.
After all that trouble, Crow’s self-titled second album was released in 1996 and immediately the single If It Makes You Happy was channeling the airwaves of radios all over the world. Putting to rest any debate over her songwriting abilities, the album received thumbs up and it built its own cabinet of awards, including a further two Grammies for Best Female Rock Performance and Best Rock Album.
In 1998 Crow returned with her third album, The Globe Sessions. The album won Best Rock Album at the 1998 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.
In 1999 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 Clapton.
Her fourth studio album C’mon C’mon was released in 2002 and entered the charts at her highest position to date- number two and quickly went platinum.
A greatest hits compilation was to follow in 2003 which included some new tracks amongst the familiar old favourites. Her fifth studio album Wildflower was released in September 2005. Although the album debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts, it received mixed reviews and was not as commercially successful as her previous albums.
Crow’s relationship with cyclist Lance Armstrong was enjoyed in the media and their two-year relationship looked to be reaching new levels when they announced their engagement in 2005. The couple met at a charity event in October 2003 and began dating a short time afterwards. However five months after Armstrong had popped the question they announced their sudden split.
2006 welcomed her with the opening track, "Real Gone", to the soundtrack for Disney/Pixar's animated film Cars. However, that same year she was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Luckily, she underwent minimal invasive surgery and doctors said her prognosis was excellent.
In 2008, Crow returned with her sixth studio album Detours . This album was recorded at Crow's Nashville farm and will features the singing talents of her adopted baby son Wyatt who makes an appearance on the song Lullaby for Wyatt. Detours debuted at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling about 92,000 copies in its first week and an additional 52,000 copies in its second week. In 2009, A&M Records re-released Sheryl's debut album, "Tuesday Night Music Club" as a deluxe version 2CD/DVD set.
Sheryl's next studio album is expected for an early 2010 release.She has performed with the Rolling Stones and has sung duets with Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, John Mellencamp and Kid Rock, among others, and appeared on backing vocals for Tina Turner.