Sophie B. Hawkins talks self-love ahead of Carlyle residency

Sophie B. Hawkins has never been one to let people put her in a box. The New York-based artist burst onto the scene with her hit “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” in 1992, which became a rallying cry for the LGBTQ community.

Nearly a decade after her last album, Hawkins has been in the studio recording “Free Myself,” slated to come out early next year.

amNewYork spoke with Hawkins about her upcoming residency at The Carlyle and the LGBTQ movement.


What are you looking forward to with your residency at the Carlyle?

I’ve wanted to play there since I moved back to New York. And one thing I know is when I do the songs live, the songs are at their best, and I’m at my best. I feel there’s going to be some magic at the Carlyle that I’m gearing toward and opening up for.


When you recorded “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,” did you have any idea what it would turn into?

I didn’t think people would understand it. And I thought the recording was bad. I don’t even remember there being this LGBTQ community the way there is now. It was just this fringe defiant faction of people.


The residency comes right after the Pride March. What are your thoughts on the larger movement for LGBTQ rights?

I feel really solid in my place for identification diversity. I put the words “omni” and “sexual” together because [Jon Pareles of The New York Times] asked if I was gay, and I knew I was way more than gay. Because someone else’s gender doesn’t make me gay or straight. And I feel very strongly that that’s people’s right.


And this echoes through a lot of your music, this theme of self-love and independence. Why is that so important for you to emphasize in the mainstream?

Somehow with my songs, I can cut to the heart of people who seem to want to be inspired to find their own truth. The songs are not political, but I’ve always believed that the personal is political. And the fact that it’s challenging to me is what makes it important. If I knew who I was exactly, I’d probably be done.


The concepts of sexuality and gender have come such a long way since you first started, but there’s also been a lot of pushback …

I don’t believe we’re going to lose ground, the voice around the world is so strong. Look how far we’ve come from Stonewall, and in not that much time. It used to be this emerging hidden thing, when I first started singing about it. But it’s not anymore.

IF YOU GO: Sophie B. Hawkins performs at Cafe Carlyle June 27, 28 and 29, 8:45 p.m. (seating times vary), $55, The Carlyle Hotel, 35 E. 76th St, thecarlyle.com