Tracy Bonham (born March 16, 1967) is an American alternative rock musician, best known for her 1996 single "Mother Mother".

Tracy Bonham
Tracy Bonham.jpg
Tracy Bonham performing at Webster Hall.
Background information
Born (1967-03-16) March 16, 1967 (age 52)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
OriginEugene, Oregon, United States
GenresAlternative rock
acoustic guitar
Years active1995–present
Zoë Records
Engine Room Recordings
Associated actsBlue Man Group

Raised in Eugene, Oregon, Bonham is a classically trained violinist and pianist, and is also a self-taught guitarist.[1] She received two Grammy nominations in 1997 for Best Alternative Album and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. She also appeared with The Blue Man Group on the Complex Rock Tour Live DVD and tour.


Life and early music careerEdit

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, and raised in Eugene, Oregon, Bonham began singing at age five and playing the violin at nine. As a teen she received a full scholarship to the University of Southern California for violin, but she eventually transferred (and moved) to Boston, Massachusetts in 1987, where she attended the Berklee College of Music to study voice instead. While there she started writing songs and in early 1995 she released her first EP, The Liverpool Sessions, and the single "The One" won best single in The Boston Phoenix reader's poll.

The Burdens of Being UprightEdit

After recording at Fort Apache Studio in Cambridge for several months, in 1996 Bonham released her debut full-length album The Burdens of Being Upright. Magazines such as Rolling Stone and People noted her bold approach to rock music. The album went gold within six months and later that year she was nominated for the Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Performance and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance (for "Mother Mother").[2] She then went on an extensive tour in support of the album.

The first single, "Mother Mother", went number one on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart for a month in late 1996. The second single, "The One", was a minor hit and peaked at #23 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart,[3] and two different music video versions of the song were briefly in heavy rotation on video music channels MTV and VH1. The third and final single, "Sharks Can't Sleep" failed to chart in the US.

Down HereEdit

After the mild success[4] of her first album, problems emerged during the recording of her next album from her own label. In 1998, all of the Island Records as well as Polygram Records and other associated labels were purchased by Seagrams, as the various labels now were under the umbrella imprint of UMG, or Universal Music Group, LLC.

Although Bonham had recorded a second album for release (in possibly 1998) titled "Trails of a Dust Devil", the new label delayed the release until mid-2000, re-titling it Down Here. The newly titled album – and the only single released from it, "Behind Every Good Woman" – failed to chart.

Bee EPEdit

In late 2001 she divorced Steve Slingeneyer (of the band Soulwax) after three years of marriage. At the same time, as Bonham began to record new music for her third album, Island Records cited they were going in a different direction (they were now favoring mostly male bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit) and she was released from her recording contract.[5]

She then left studio recording behind and began to tour in support of other groups such as the performance group Blue Man Group[6] and even rock band Aerosmith. In 2003 she recorded and released an independent EP titled Bee. It included early versions of "Shine" and "All Thumbs" and a live version of "Freed" (from the "Down Here" album), and a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog", where she substituted violin solos for the signature lead guitar line in the original.

She had only pressed 1,000 hoping to sell 500, but she eventually sold over 12,000 of the EP's while on the various tours. With the money made from the EP she returned to the studio to start work on her third full-length LP in Los Angeles, California. (The "Bee" EP was later re-issued in Europe as the "Something Beautiful" EP with the addition of a track titled "Blink the Brightest" and a bonus DVD with live performances.)

In 2004, she signed with Rounder Records, whose CEO, John Virant, was a longtime fan and spent over three years convincing Tracy to trust a record company again.

Blink the BrightestEdit

In 2005 she released her third album Blink the Brightest through the more pop-oriented Zoe label of Rounder. It was recorded in L.A., where she has lived part-time since 2003. She co-produced the bulk of the album with Greg Collins (U2, No Doubt, Matchbox Twenty); Joey Waronker, who has drummed for R.E.M. and Beck, co-produced four tracks.

Along with Bonham, the players included drummers Waronker and Butch (of Eels), bassists Sebastian Steinberg (from Soul Coughing & Neil Finn) and Davey Faragher (having performed for Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow), guitarists Joe Gore (from Tom Waits, P.J. Harvey) and Dave Levita (Alanis Morissette, Jewel) and keyboard player Mitchell Froom (Paul McCartney, Los Lobos).

She performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and her new songs were featured on XM Radio's The Loft Channel.

In The City + In The Woods EPEdit

While in upstate New York in the late fall of 2006 Bonham released the EP In The City + In The Woods, her second self-funded EP. The 11-track disc featured two studio tracks, a cover version of Beyoncé Knowles's "Crazy In Love" and an original titled "In My Other Life". The rest of the songs are live tracks, which include some older favorites – "One Hit Wonder" and a new version of "Navy Bean" – covers ("Blue Jay Way" & "Kissing The Lipless"), and previously unreleased material ("Your World Turns Upside Down", "The Idiot In Me").

Masts of ManhattaEdit

From 2007 to 2009, Bonham recorded songs for her new album in Woodstock. The 2010 album, titled Masts of Manhatta, was produced by Bonham and mixed by Tchad Blake, and was released under the New York City indie label Engine Room Recordings in the United States and on Lojinx Records in the UK.[7]

Pure McCartneyEdit

In celebration of Paul McCartney's 70th birthday on June 18, 2012 Tracy Bonham and the group with Danish singer Tim Christensen and his group The Damn Crystals performed the whole Ram album at Vega in Copenhagen.[8]

Personal lifeEdit

Bonham currently splits her time between Woodstock, New York, and Brooklyn, New York. She is married to Rolling Stone executive editor Jason Fine.[9]




  • The Liverpool Sessions – 1995 (EP)
  • Behind Every Good Woman – 2000 (EP)
  • Bee – 2003 (EP)
  • Something Beautiful – 2005 (EP/DVD)
  • In The City/In The Woods – 2006 (EP)
  • All I Wish Every Christmas – 2013 (EP)
  • My Big Red Heart Beats for You – 2015 (EP)



  • "Sunshine" – 1995
  • "Dandelion" – 1995
  • "Mother Mother" – 1996
  • "The One" – 1996
  • "Sharks Can't Sleep" – 1996
  • "Navy Bean" – 1996
  • "Behind Every Good Woman" – 2000
  • "Something Beautiful" – 2005
  • "Shine" – 2005
  • "Eyes" – 2005 [10]
  • "Big Red Heart" – 2010
  • "Luck" – 2015[11]

Digital releases

  • "Carry Me Home" – 2008 (Website download)
  • "Your Night Is Wide Open" – 2008 (Website download)
  • "The Size of My Fist" – 2008 (available on iTunes)
  • "The Indelible Man" – 2008 (available on iTunes)
  • "In My Heart (Bill Withers cover)" – 2009 (available on iTunes and the compilation album "Before The Goldrush")
  • "The Hugger, The Screamer, and Me" – 2009 (Website download)
  • "In The Pines (Leadbelly cover)" – 2011 (Website download)

Appears on album

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award
1996 MTV Video Music Awards nomination for Best New Artist ("Mother Mother")
1996 MTV Video Music Awards nomination for Best Female Video ("Mother Mother")
1997 Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Performance (The Burdens of Being Upright)
1997 Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance ("Mother Mother")


  1. ^ "Tracy Bonham — Blink the brightest" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 13, 2006. Retrieved January 29, 2007.
  2. ^ "Babyface, Smashing Pumpkins Lead 1997 Grammy Nominees", Rolling Stone, Jann Wenner, January 7, 1997, retrieved June 2, 2011
  3. ^ [1] Archived December 30, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Leahey, Andrew, "Tracy Bonham — Biography", Allmusic, Rovi Corporation, retrieved June 2, 2011
  5. ^ Anderman, Joan (June 19, 2005), "Up, Down, and Now Somewhere Between", The Boston Globe, The New York Times Company, retrieved June 2, 2011
  6. ^ "Blue Man Group Unveils New Concert with Tracy Bonham, Monobloco & More at the Hollywood Bowl | Broadway Buzz". August 15, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  7. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (July 6, 2010), "Tracy Bonham Makes a Fresh Start", Billboard, Prometheus Global Media, retrieved June 2, 2011
  8. ^ Pure Ram,
  9. ^ Chinen, Nate (July 23, 2010), "Interview: Tracy Bonham — Musician", The Scotsman, The Scotsman Publications, retrieved June 2, 2011
  10. ^ "TRACY BONHAM – EYES (2006 PROMO CD)". September 6, 2011. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  11. ^ "Tracy Bonham – Luck". (Destiny Media Technologies). August 25, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2016.

External linksEdit